Tips For Choosing A Room Air Conditioner

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If you are not blessed with central air conditioning, room air conditioners can give you some reprieve from the oppressive heat and humidity of the summer months. On the surface they may all seem the same, but you just don’t want to go out and buy the first one you come across in the store, or more likely these days, online.

There are several things you want to think about. Here are just a few tips to get you started:

Energy Efficiency

Room air conditioners used to be seen as major energy sucks but have improved dramatically. Since June 2014, room air conditioners are required to meet a new standard that sets maximum power use at 10 to 15 percent less than older models that were based on guidelines established in 2000.

So, even a run of the mill air conditioner is much more efficient, and ones that rank higher on the energy-efficiency scale are even better.

Efficiency of air conditioners are measured by energy efficiency ratio (EER) and every increase of 1.0 on the scale represents a 10 percent increase in efficiency. Look for units that have an EER or at least 11. Anything in the 12’s is the most efficient units.

More efficient units may cost a bit more, but the energy savings over the life of the unit will more than make up for it.

Tips For Choosing A Room Air Conditioner


The size of the room will determine the cooling capacity required of your air conditioner. The cooling capacities of most units ranges from 5,500 Btuto 14,000 Btu per hour. Many people think buying a larger unit automatically equals better cooling, but it is not as effective and a lot of energy gets wasted. Air conditioners are meant not only to cool, but remove humidity. If the unit is too large for the room, the air may cool quickly but will be ineffective at removing the humidity because the unit will shut down once the desired temperature gets reached, creating an uncomfortable damp, clammy feeling.

Generally, a 15,000 Btu unit will be sufficient for a room of 875 square feet. Most units will be labeled with the capacity and the square footage it is appropriate for, but there may be other factors to consider for optimal functioning. You can find a variety of calculators on line that take into account other factors such as what the room is used for, window area, sun exposure, insulation levels and other factors.

Control Options

You also want to take control features into consideration. Multispeed fans and adjustable thermostats are desirable features. Digital controls help control temperature more precisely and have timers that all you to turn the unit on or off at a pre-set schedule.

Where controls are located is important to think about as well. If you are installing at a window at waist levels, top controls will be easiest. Bottom or side controls are good for units that are installed at the level of your head or shoulder.

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