When the weather starts to heat up, most people turn their thoughts to staying cool. If you don’t have central air conditioning, room air conditioners are still an energy-efficient, low-cost alternative to cool the rooms in your house that you spend the most time in.
With more than 6.5 million models sold each year, air conditioners are one of the most common household appliances. According to Energy Star, cooling costs account for approximately 13% of household utility bills, which means choosing the right unit is crucial. An air conditioner that is too small for the size of the room won’t cool effectively. But an air conditioner that’s too big can leave your space frigid and uncomfortable.
Consider the following when purchasing an air conditioner:
- The noise. Air conditioners have come a long way in the noise department in recent years. Among the quietest models, all you will hear is the gentle whirr of a fan. Air conditioners that score low for noise will be loud enough on low to disturb you if you’re a light sleeper, and distracting when set to high.
- Window location. Window air conditioners tend to blow air in a single direction—which can be a problem if your window is off-centered. To be able to cool a room, the air needs to hit the middle. It’s possible to find models that blow air to the left or the right. Other models have swiveling fans.
- Proper installation. Quite a few air conditioning units are intended for double-hung windows. If your windows are not double-hung, consider another style of air conditioner. Your window unit must also be level enough for the unit to drain properly. Electronic devices that generate heat should be located away from the air conditioner.
- Filter location. Make sure the filter is easily accessible. You will need to clean it regularly to keep your air conditioner working well.
- Intelligent features. The latest air conditioning models can be controlled and adjusted with only a smartphone. They may also be connected to other temperature control units in your home. This can allow you to save energy and minimize the cost of your bill.
- Warranty. Check with the manufacturer or ask the retailer about the warranty offered on the unit. A longer warranty will guarantee that your air conditioner can be used for years to come.
Start by choosing the space you would like to cool and identifying where you will install the unit. Window air conditioners have varying cooling capacities, which may range from 5,000-12,500 British thermal units (Btu). You can figure out the amount of cooling capacity you need by allotting 20 Btu for every square foot of your room. If your room is 400 square feet, you will need an air conditioner with approximately 8,000 Btu.
However, it’s important to take other factors into consideration. If you have a high ceiling, for instance, you might need a slightly higher cooling capacity. Additionally, if your window is not in the center of the room or your space is unusually sunny for most of the day, you may want to purchase an air conditioner with slightly higher capacity.