How to Buy an Air Conditioner

It’s that time of year again. If you don’t have an airconditioner you may be thinking of getting one. If the one you do have seems to be less than adequate, it may be time for an upgrade. What should you look for? How big a unit is right for you? Plus, what the heck is a BTU anyway? Many consider buying an air conditioner a confusing process..
Why not take a minute to read up on what’s available and what all those numbers mean.

First, BTU stands for British thermal units per hour . Really, all that one really needs to know about this is that the higher the BTU, the more space the air conditioner can cool efficiently. The aim is to get as many BTU’s as necessary for sufficient cooling without getting a unit that is more than you need. As a general room of thumb, look for five to six thousand BTU’s for each 100 to 300 square feet you want to cool. Consider seven thoudsand to eighty wo hundreds BTU’s for 250 to 55o sq. ft. and ninety eight hundred to twelve thousand five hundred for area that is 350 to 950 sq. Expect a standard air conditioner to cool one or two rooms.

Set with how many BTU’s you will look for, the next thing to consider the units’ efficiency rating. .
The federal government has set and requires a standard energy efficiency rating (EER). They are 9.7 for units of below eight thousand BTU’s. 9.8 for units of eight thousand to thirteen thhousand nine hundred and ninety nine BTUs. Many units now exceed these numbers. If a unit has an “energy star status” that means it is at least ten percent more efficient than the minimum standards .Models that use the least electricity used to be the most expensive models but that is no longer the case. I make energy efficiency an important point in my selection process. During the “dog days of summer” your air conditioner might be on alot, maybe most of the time. The cost of running the unit is an important aspect of the unit’s cost for me. Beside the EER rate there should be a sticker from either AHAM ( the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers)
or (CSA) the Canadian Standards Association. They test units and confirm the EER ratings of units.

Once you decide on the number of BTU’s and effieciency ratings all you need decide are options. Some prefer electronic controls and digital temperature readouts. For some, controls with “warmer and “cooler’ are fine. Some units have remote controls now. Many have a “slide out chasis” this is an outer cabinet that anchors to your window. You slip the unit into the chasis for extra security. All these points are up fro individual consideration. The one option that really is worth looking for is a timer. You can set your timer so that the unit switches on half an hour before you arrive, off in the middle of the night and back on before you wake. Timer’s pay for themselves in savings.

The most popular are well known brands are Fedders, GE, Kenmore (Sears) LG Maytag and Whirlpool. Expect to pay roughly about $150 to $650 for a small to midsize (depending on the cooling capacity) and about $270 to $475 for a large model.
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