Choosing the Right Air Conditioner
The summer heat and humidity in Phoenix Arizona can really get you down if the air conditioning in your home is out of date, or not working at all. Many people shudder at the thought of loud obnoxious window air conditioning units from their youth. The ones that ran all of the time but still left the room feeling hot. Today’s air conditioners are quiet, discreet, and energy efficient. There are still the older style window mounted units that can also be installed through a wall. Professional help is recommended if “through wall” installation is intended. Portable type air conditioning can be rolled in and out of a closet as needed. Wall mounted units with the compressor set up outside the home make for super quiet, efficient cooling. Though considerably more expensive, there are even systems that are recessed into the ceiling. Needless to say, options abound in today’s air conditioning market.
Once a determination has been made on the type of unit desired for the space, careful consideration needs to be made on the size and shape of the area to be cooled. Air conditioners are sold based on the BTUs they can reduce per hour of operation. The higher the BTU rating the more powerful the machine, and thus larger area the device will be able to cool. With that being said, a very powerful unit in a small space will leave a room cool, but it will not properly remove the humidity. BTU to square footage calculators are available all over the internet, and sales personnel in reputable AC dealers can assist with size recommendations. An old rule of thumb is 15,000 BTUs per 900 square feet for estimation purposes.
Room shape plays a large factor in determining a device as well. While a 25,000 BTU air conditioning system has enough power to cool a very large room, it won’t cut it if installed in a window on the far side of an “L” shaped area. Splitting the BTUs to two smaller units installed in windows on opposite sides of the room will be far more efficient. Another option in this scenario would be one powerful ceiling mounted unit centrally located in the room. Don’t forget, cathedral ceilings greatly increase the space to be cooled in a room, so be sure to account for that area.
Portable units are designed mostly for smaller spaces, and not really for constant use. They are great for guest bedrooms or small offices. They usually have wheels, and won’t take up too much floor space. The only requirement they have is access to a window so the warm air removed from the room can be vented outside.
Modern air conditioning units are amazingly more efficient than those old ones of the past. Today’s standards help keep spaces cool with a much smaller impact on the electric bill each month. To ease customers understanding of energy impact, the federal government requires manufacturers to publish the EER, or Energy Efficiency Rating, right on the machine. This is a simple calculation of cooling power compared to energy usage. The higher the number the better, with any rating over 10 being considered a truly efficient system. Take note, air conditioners with a higher rating will have a higher purchasing cost, but that cost will be mitigated over time by savings on monthly electric bills. Generally speaking, buy the highest EER unit you can afford to save money over the long run. Energy guides included with the unit will offer an estimated operating cost.
Some additional consideration must be made if a window mounted air conditioning system is chosen. While wall, ceiling, and portable units will have a TV style remote control, window units tend to have controls on the device itself. Less expensive models may have analog controls, but digital displays are now the norm. Be sure the placement of the controls will be accessible once the unit is installed in the window. Top down controls would be difficult to use and see if the air conditioner were mounted in a high window, or side displays facing a wall. Also be sure the filter will be easy to access for cleaning or replacement once the machine is in its installed location. Check the filter removal options before you buy to save headaches in the future.
Lastly, relating to all types of air conditioning systems, a little more money can be spent on features that will greatly enhance the function. Oscillating fans and vents will aid in more evenly cooling the room. Digital temperature controls keep the compressor from running at all times, while maintaining exactly the desired environment. Heater options will give the system more versatility and allow for cutting expenses in colder months.
The myriad of styles and features available in today’s market for air conditioning systems can be a bit daunting. With a little planning and smart shopping, the options can be customized to suit exactly what a consumers needs for any given environment. Time and money can be saved by pairing the unit with the room, and maximizing energy efficiency.
Categorized in: Phoenix