Air conditioning can dehumidify a room. As the air passes through the air conditioner, it goes through the coils that cool it down. This pulls condensate out of the air that drips into the drainage system of the AC.
This means that running an AC often pulls moisture out of your home. However, it is possible to humidify a room despite having an air conditioner. Here are a few tips on how to humidify a room with air conditioning.
An easy way to improve the humidity in a room is to encourage evaporation. You could leave bowls of water around the house. It will slowly evaporate.
Put them in direct sunlight to accelerate the evaporation and prevent mold growth. You could add citrus extract or other substances to the bowls to create a pleasant aroma, though you’ll have to clean the bowl more often.
A discrete method is to put a tabletop fountain in the room. Some of the moisture from the water feature will evaporate into the air. A side benefit of this approach is that you won’t have to explain the bowl full of water on the window sill.
A faster solution is boiling water on the stovetop and letting the steam float into the air.
Turn on fans to circulate the humid air as long as it isn’t a kitchen exhaust fan that pulls the humid air outside. Or you could just leave the lids off the pots of boiling soup and pasta and let that steam escape, though you’ll need to be careful of cook times.
Fortunately, this means you could solve the humidity problem in the living room by switching to cooking on the stove top instead of the oven.
You could also put more plants in the room, especially if that particular area is chronically dry.
They’ll naturally transpire or release water into the air as they grow, and you can mist them. This will simultaneously nourish the plants and increase humidity in the room.
If you put the plants in a wet tray, the water will evaporate into the air, increasing ambient humidity discretely. In theory, you could get the same effect by taking the lid off your fish tank. Then you have to take extra care to maintain water chemistry.
You can do little things to maximize the humidity in the house such as leaving the dishwasher door open instead of putting it through a dry cycle. When after you take a bath or shower, leave the bathroom door open to let the humid air spread to the rest of the house. Hang towels elsewhere in the house to dry to increase the humidity, and you’ll save electricity compared to throwing them in the clothes dryer.
Utilize the Swamp Cooler Method
A swamp cooler is a primitive form of air conditioning. The fan blows air through a wet filter. The water is typically room temperature or cooler. The air passing through it is chilled by the partial evaporation, and then the cooler air is pushed on through the rest of the room.
If you have a swamp cooler, the air conditioner / swamp cooler in and of itself humidifies a room.
You can utilize the same technique to humidify your room without any additional hardware. Hang a damp sheet in front of the air conditioner vent so that the air coming into the room is humidified.
You could put a wet towel over the window AC unit for the same effect. Or hang your wet laundry near the AC air vents to create a source of cool, damp air.
What if you don’t want to hang laundry in front of the air conditioner vent? You can make a little swamp cooler out of items around the house. Get a couple of sponges wet, then lay them down in front of a blowing fan.
Just make sure it isn’t a dirty, moldy sponge.
You can amplify the effect by letting the sponge float in a bowl of water. And you can turn it into a de facto air purifier by sprinkling it with baking soda when getting it wet, well before you turn on the fan.
Work with the HVAC Equipment You Have
There is a fair chance that your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system has a dehumidifier built into it. That’s normal given how much condensate these systems trap and get rid of.
They also have an incentive to remove moisture, since water collecting in the vents fosters mold growth. Equipment like the furnace will rust faster if moisture collects inside of it.
So the standard HVAC system removes moisture aggressively and may have a dehumidifier on top of that.
If there is a dehumidifier connected to the HVAC system, turn it off while keeping the air flow rate high.
Now the air won’t be as dry, and you haven’t had to do anything different to achieve this result. And you can use the fans with the air conditioner and dehumidifier turned off to maximize air flow in your home.
This has the side benefit of creating even temperatures and humidity throughout the house. For example, it could pull hot humid air from the bathroom or kitchen into the rest of the house.
Use a Conventional Humidifier
A humidifier will pull air in, blow it over chilled coils and a water feature of sorts, and then blow the cool moist air out into the room. You can humidify a room by setting up a humidifier and letting it run.
One of the benefits of a room-sized humidifier is that you can store it when it isn’t needed. Another is that it is cheap compared to the cost of a whole house humidifier.
You can also move the humidifier from room to room as needed. Be careful not to let the humidity in a given room get too high.
Choose a Whole House Humidifier
While we’ve already mentioned whole-house dehumidifiers, it is possible to buy a whole house humidifier.
These can be expensive, and they require an HVAC tech to install. They have to be cleaned regularly to prevent mold growth inside the unit.