Portland, Oregon is known for its rainy weather but most people don’t think about how warm a Northwest summer can be. With more than 60 days of no rain and above 80-degree weather, Portland summers are historically quite lovely. Typically, a Portland summer sees 12 to 15 days that are in the triple digits and this year summer has come exceptionally early bringing more days of high heat and humidity to wilt even the most sun-loving person.
What is Humidity?
Humidity is the amount of moisture in the air that makes the temperature feel warmer and our skin feel uncomfortable. Humidity comes from evaporation – as water evaporates it rises into the air, raising the feeling of moisture on the skin. Hot days can often be more humid because heat causes water to evaporate faster into the air.
Humidity in the Portland area can be deceiving. Most people are surprised to find that on average humidity in Portland can range from 60 percent to 84 percent. As the humidity rises the more uncomfortable you will get. When the humidity is high, we can easily overheat which is just one health danger that can rise in summer heat.
Humidity and Health
Hot, humid summer days can make a day feel unbearable. In humid weather our bodies do not sweat efficiently, making it harder to cool off. As our bodies work harder to cool off it can increase water loss which can have an adverse effect on your body. Low energy, fatigue, muscle cramps, and heat exhaustion can come from long-term heat and humidity.
Additionally, humid air can give bacteria, dust mites, and mold a perfect place to thrive, increasing the suffering of those with indoor allergies. Older adults and young children can be especially susceptible to summer heat since their bodies have a harder time regulating body temperature and fighting off indoor allergens.
Rising Heat in Portland
For the last 20 years, more and more homeowners in Portland are finding that air conditioning is a necessity as sporadic summer heatwaves become more commonplace. The area’s summer temperatures have shifted to higher daytime and nighttime temperatures making it harder for people to find relief overnight. Rather than sweat and wilt, it pays to be ready for the regular record-setting heat waves that seem to come every summer.
Pros for Air Conditioning in Portland
Heat and humidity aren’t just bad for your health, it is also hard on your belongings as well. If you have ever seen a book cover curl on a hot summer day you have seen the effects of humidity. Wood, paintings, guitars, books, and other household items can be impacted by high heat and humidity that make it necessary to protect them as much as possible.
When Willis Carrier invented the first air conditioning unit it was to control humidity. Humidity problems were creating production problems for a New York printer and Carrier’s solution was to condition rooms by dehumidifying the air, making the space feel cooler to the skin and nicer on belongings. Air conditioners work by moving heat and humidity from inside your home to the outside, leaving the interior of your home comfortable so you can sleep deeply, keep allergies and asthma issues at bay, stay productive and avoid the effects of prolonged heat.
Additional reading: Air Conditioning 101
Cons for Air Conditioning in Portland
There aren’t a lot of disadvantages to air conditioning but the energy costs of running an air conditioner can be significant depending on your home size. Air conditioning can also cause dry skin in some people so it is important to stay hydrated.
It is also necessary to keep your air conditioning filters clean. Central air conditioners use air filters to improve indoor air quality and work with the same ductwork that your existing furnace uses. Regular maintenance is vital to keeping your air conditioning unit running well for years and will keep allergens from building up in the system.
Heat Pumps vs Air Conditioning
In Portland, a heat pump is an excellent alternative to an air conditioner while giving you the added advantage of one unit to both heat and cool. Heat pumps do not generate heat but instead transfer heat from one area to another. In summer, warm air from the inside is transferred outside and in winter this process is reversed. Because Portland weather tends to be moderate, heat pumps work well as a versatile and efficient cooling and heating system for homes in our area.
Additional reading: Heat Pump vs Air Conditioner: Which is Right for You?
Properly Sizing Your Air Conditioner
Bigger is not better when it comes to your air conditioner. A too-large AC unit actually is more than inefficient. As it cycles on and off frequently, an oversized AC never runs long enough to remove humidity from the air, making it difficult to control the “air feel” in your space.
Sizing an air conditioner depends on a variety of factors:
- Home shape
- Ceiling Height
- Orientation to the sun
Additional reading: AC Sizes Explained: What Size Air Conditioner Do I Need?
Keeping your AC Maintained
As stated above, regular maintenance on your air conditioner or heat pump is vital. A lot of factors impact the lifespan of your air conditioner or heat pump. In general, an air conditioning unit can last between 10 to 15 years, some easily work for 20 years. Regular, expert care and maintenance are always key to long system life.
We recommend that you service your air conditioning system at least once a year, typically in the spring. You want to make sure that your AC unit or heat pump is ready to go for the hottest months of the year. Preventative maintenance makes sure that you are ready before any extreme weather beats down on you and your home.
Additional reading: When to Service Your Air Conditioner (And How Often)
Costs to Have AC
There are several factors that determine the cost of installing home air conditioning.
- Square footage
- Desired level of comfort
- Home efficiency
- Desired efficiency
- Noise requirements and sensitivity
- Type of system
- New or replacement system
Because no system is one-size-fits-all the installation costs of air conditioning can vary quite a bit. Starting price for a central air conditioning unit can start around $4500 and go up to about $8500. Other systems like a heat pump or ductless can be more expensive but have other benefits.
Additional reading: AC Installation and Replacement Costs
How Jacobs Can Help
Staying cool in the summer is critical to both health and productivity. There is no need to suffer through the next heatwave, Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning experts are ready to make sure that you have the best air conditioning system installed for your home and lifestyle. We will guide you through the decision so you can avoid extra costs, fewer repairs, and enjoy a long-lasting system. No matter what you need we’re always just a phone call away. You are welcome to review our statement on COVID-19 and how we’re taking precautions to protect you, our team, and our communities.