You know what time it is! Lazy afternoons, sweat dripping from your forehead to your lap, mosquitoes buzzing and biting. It’s summer! And it also means you’re at a higher risk of suffering from a heat stroke within the comfort of your home.
Although there really aren’t any air conditioner enthusiasts out there, they do play an important role in the household. They keep us from overheating and becoming irritated at the slightest things. With a continuous blast of frigid air to cool you down, you can actually begin to enjoy the hot months. At home. And not at the beach.
In this article, we’re going to help you find Mr. Right Air Conditioner for your home so you can make it through the following months with relative comfort.
Do I need an Air Conditioner?
This is a basic question that you should ask yourself before investing hundreds of dollars on an air conditioner. Do you need one or will a tower fan make do?
The biggest difference between air conditioners and fans is that the former blasts your face with cool air, whereas the latter moves muggy air around a room. A fan has no air-cooling properties, but it does improve air circulation, which might actually be a bigger problem in your home.
Now, you could always sit in front of a fan to “cool down”. But really, you’re just evaporating your sweat, and you’ll end up feeling stickier than ever. If heat is a problem in your home, then yes, you need an air conditioner.
Types of Air Conditioners
The three most popular types are window air conditioners, portable air conditioners, and ductless/mini-split air conditioners. We acknowledge a centralized system as a type of AC, but unless you have existing ductwork in your home, you may want to skip it altogether.
Window Air Conditioners
When you think air conditioner, you’re probably thinking of a window unit. This type of AC is the cheapest and most popular out there. The unit hangs out of a window and sits on a sturdy metal bracket while the outdoor components compress a coolant and reject heat and moisture from the air. Installing these units is a breeze and possible without the help of hired help.
Portable Air Conditioners
You’ve probably seen portable air conditioners at malls, wedding halls, and hotel lobbies. Portable air conditioners are large units that sit on top of casters for seamless movement across flat surfaces. They can be quite heavy and expensive, but if you’d like cool air wherever you are, this might be the type for you. However, there are certain drawbacks of portable units, such as their inferior cooling capacity, noisy operation, and lack of portability (they can weigh up to 100 pounds).
Ductless/Mini-Split Air Conditioners
Ductless/mini-split air conditioners are becoming increasingly more popular over time. They consist of two separate units – an indoor unit that is installed high up on a wall (cool air falls down) and a condenser that’s either fixed to the ground or hanging on the outside part of a wall. They are connected by a conduit which moves outdoor air that’s suctioned and cooled by the condenser. Ductless ACs are not portable at all, unlike window models that you can move from window to window or portable models that glide across the floor.
Air Conditioner Buying Guide
In this section, we’ll go over what specs and features to look out for when shopping for an air conditioner. It’s a lot trickier than it may seem, so you need to consider each and everything carefully.
AC Size (BTU) and Area Coverage
When it comes to running an AC, size matters. If you end up getting an AC that’s too powerful for your room, not only are you spending more on electricity to keep the device running, but you’re also putting yourself at risk of freezing in the middle of the night. Get an AC that’s too small and you will hardly feel a breeze.
The cooling capacity of air conditioners is measured in BTU (British thermal units). Basically, the higher the BTU rating, the more adept it’ll be at cooling a larger room. The rule of thumb for window-mounted and ductless air conditioners is between 5,000 and 6,500 BTUs for rooms as large as 300 square feet. Rooms between 250 and 400 square feet need a 7,000- to 8,500-BTU air conditioner. For spacious rooms (up to 12,500 square feet), a 9,500- to 12,5000-BTU unit will suffice.
As for portable air conditioners, their BTU ratings can be somewhat misleading. To effectively cool the aforementioned sized rooms with a portable unit, add 20% on top of the BTU requirement.
In the past, air conditioners were notorious for consuming a ton of electricity per hour, but with advancements in AC technology, those days are somewhat long gone. Unless you’re talking about portable air conditioners, then you’ll need a pretty hefty wallet to pay for utilities.
As for window and ductless air conditioners, if you plan on keeping them running all day long, even with the astronomical increase in electricity, you can control how much you’ll spend monthly by getting an ENERGY STAR certified unit. With this certification, you can rest assured that your air conditioner is using as little power as possible while still ensuring frostiness. Plus, they don’t emit nearly as much pollution as non-certified units, so there’s that to feel good about.
There’s really no way to avoid the continuous droning of ACs when turned on, and when the compressor kicks in, you may find yourself going crazy at night. The only surefire way to ensure that you won’t be jolted awake in the middle of the night when the compressor starts up is by placing it far away (ductless models).
As for window and portable models, the compressor is wherever the unit is, so enjoy the night-long buzzing! Of course, you can place the window or portable AC far away from your bed and study table, but it really depends on how much floor space you have and where your windows are located.
If you have pre-existing ductwork in your home, there’s really no need to think about window-mounted, portable, or ductless ACs. Instead, get a pro to help install a centralized system for your home; that way you’ll make use out of something you didn’t know you had.
As for the rest of us ductless schmoes, installing a window or portable AC can be as simple as 1-2-3. Place them where you want them and let them run.
Ductless ACs are a bit different as they require tearing down a portion of a wall to let the conduit pass from the indoor unit to the outdoor unit. So you’ll need to be aware of what sort of material(s) your walls are made of and whether your walls can support brackets to hang the compressor. The compressor needs to be secured as there’s a very real threat of it falling and ruining some unfortunate passerby’s day.
Portable air conditioners can be placed anywhere you’d like in a room. The closer you are to the unit, the colder the air will be, so consider placing it about at least 10 feet away from where you’ll be chillaxing.
The coils are found in the evaporator core of the air conditioner which is encased in the compressor portion/unit. The coils work to absorb heat from outdoor air before it passes the coolant and enters your home.
These coils are made of either aluminum or copper. We’d highly recommend you find an AC that uses copper wires rather than aluminum since it conducts heat much more effectively. Plus, when the air conditioner is on the fritz, it’ll still work better before the repairman shows up.
After sale Maintenance
ACs don’t last forever, but you can prolong its death by calling hired help to clean the unit. You can clean the AC on your own, but if you’re not trained in AC-cleaning arts, then leave it to the pros.
Make sure that your city has an official help center that offers after sale services. A long-lasting warranty should also instill confidence that the air conditioner will not fail while under warranty, and replacement parts (if needed) will be available to you FOC. You could always go to a private tradesman for professional cleaning if your city doesn’t have an official help center.
Certain air conditioner models don’t just cool down a room, but they also filter the air, creating high-quality breathable air for you and your loved ones. If you’re getting an AC/air filtering combo unit, take a look at what sort of filter the devices come with.
For the best indoor air quality, consider finding a model that uses True HEPA filters that eradicate 99.97% of airborne pollutants as small as 0.3 microns in diameter. Pollen and pet dander have no hope in residing indoors if you get a True HEPA filter.
Other types of filters will do if you don’t have pets or suffer from seasonal allergies. Some filters are washable and reusable, so if you’d like to cut costs on filter replacements, get one that uses this type of filter.
And not only can air conditioners purify the air, but some models also have a dehumidifying mode that condenses excess moisture particles in the air. The drier the room, the cooler it’ll feel. However, the dehumidifying mode is not a perfect replacement for a stand-alone dehumidifier.
How to use an Air Conditioner like a Pro
Before we leave you, we’d like to give you a few tips on how you can make the best use out of your air conditioner while keeping costs down.
Utilize sleep mode and timers
On the AC remote, you can find several features that assist in cutting electricity costs. Such features include sleep mode and timers. While on sleep mode, the AC will use less electricity while maintaining a constant temperature depending on the model. The timer will automatically shut the unit off while you’re not awake so you’re not wasting money on utilities while you’re asleep.
Install proper insulation
Any leaks or cracks in a room or window frame will let warm air from outside seep in while cool air escapes. Obviously, this will increase the temperature of a room, and your AC will have to work harder to keep the temperature down. If the room is properly insulated, it’ll do a better job at retaining cool air. There are many ways to insulate a room, so find what’s best for your situation.
We don’t really have to tell you this, but sun rays are kind of hot. If a room has access to direct sunlight, the room will heat up quicker than the AC can cool it down, and you’ll have the keep the unit running for hours on end to keep up. Hanging curtains can be a simple trick to prevent the sun from ruining your indoor fun.
Get rooftop solar panels
Finally, you should seriously consider installing rooftop solar panels to help bear some of the electricity load. Solar panels are cheaper than ever before, and they’re extremely handy in the summertime when the sun’s a-shinin’. Get a pro to give to an estimate and help set the panels up since it requires a bit of technical know-how to get the job done.
So there you have it, ladies and gents: our guide on how to find the right air conditioner for your home. The first thing to consider is what type of AC will work best for your home. We’d recommend steering clear of portable models if possible since they can be quite expensive to operate while doing a worse job at cooling a room than the window and ductless models.
Afterwards, consider how big or small of an AC will suit your home or room best. A higher BTU rating means more energy consumption which is needed for spacious rooms. It’s better to get a unit that has a slightly higher BTU rating that necessary as it’ll guarantee effective coolness.