Your Best AC! The weather’s been unpredictable this summer, but one thing’s for certain: we’ve had our fair share days over 25 degrees. Adding air conditioning is one of the most impactful home improvements you can make — your home’s comfort directly affects your quality of life. Installing an AC unit is an excellent way to invest in your home; however, it’s very important to choose the right one, and install and maintain it properly. When it comes to air conditioners, it pays to do your homework! With so many types of air conditioners to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start. We’ve put together some handy tips to help you choose the best air conditioner for your home.
Types of Air ConditionersAll air conditioners perform three standard functions: they lower room temperature, remove air moisture and filter air. Although all AC units do the same things, they come in different versions: Window units are the most popular because they are affordable and simple to install. Some models also double as a heater. You can install a window unit in both single and double hung windows; they typically have accordion panels on the sides to ensure a secure fit. Remember, models made for sliding windows need extra support if attached to your home’s exterior. Portable, freestanding units can be moved between rooms. These units come with a venting kit for exhaust (much like your clothes dryer). Most freestanding units have reservoirs you need to empty every so often; however, some come with a drainage hose and some convert most of the moisture to exhaust to reduce how often you need to empty them. It’s important to note that freestanding air conditioners can be quite heavy and are often less efficient than window units. Built-in air conditioners are permanently installed in the wall of your home and provide both cool and hot air. Built-in units are ideal for areas in your home that aren’t connected to your central heating and air system, like your garage. Built-in units are more expensive than window units and you need an opening in your exterior wall to install them. However, these units don’t take up any window space and they provide an air-tight, secure fit. Built-in AC units can be tricky to install — we recommend hiring a professional.
Cooling Capacity: BTUs and Energy EfficiencyBTUs (British thermal units) measure heat energy. Choosing an air conditioner with the right BTU rating for your space will help you get the most energy efficient system for your home. The BTU rating tells you how quickly and effectively your air conditioner will cool a room. AC units generally range from 5,000 to 20,000 BTU. Make sure to factor in things like ceiling height, insulation, sun exposure, location and climate when you are considering BTU ratings. All air conditioners come with an Energy Efficiency Rating between 13 and 20+. The higher the rating, the lower the emissions (and your utility bill). Today’s units must meet Energy Star standards, which set maximum energy usage at about 10 percent less than older models.
Before You Buy Your Air Conditioner
- Calculate the size of the area you want to cool. Multiply a room’s length by its width to find its square footage.
- Look at your power sources. Find the outlet you plan to use to power your air conditioner and choose a unit that’s compatible.
- Make sure it fits. Check (then double check!) the specifications and dimensions of the air conditioner you’ve chosen to make sure it will work in the space you have available.