Summer is in full swing, and if you don’t already have an air conditioner, you’re sure to be feeling the heat. When it comes to picking an air conditioner, you have the power to choose from several different styles and powers. But don’t settle on the thought that bigger is better with the belief that larger units will cool your home faster. The reality of it is that the size doesn’t matter. Air conditioners will cool at the same rate, but undersized units will not be able to fulfill your cooling needs, continually running but never reaching your preferred temperature, and oversized units will consume a lot more energy than is necessary to reach that temperature.
So how do you pick the perfect air conditioner? You need to look at the style of AC you want and what its capabilities are. All air conditioners lower the ambient air temperature, reduce the moisture in the area, and filter the air. AC units come in different styles: central, mini split, window, and standalone. Central air is installed throughout your house, with a condenser and compressor located outside and an evaporator and fan inside your home. These systems are expensive to install if you don’t already have ductwork, but they will cool an entire home. Other units won’t cool more than a single room, but they are less expensive.
Mini split units have a unit mounted on a wall inside your home. They are a cheaper alternative to central air if you don’t have ductwork. However, they are suited to a single, large room generally. Window and standalone units are self contained units, with the evaporator, fan, condenser, and compressor all inside the box. These units are best for just a single room.
Specifically looking at the units that are good for cooling a single room, you need to know what the size of your room is to determine how powerful a unit you need. Window units are easy to install, but they block the window they are installed into, so you’ll lose any view you had by installing one. However, they are relatively cheap and removable for when temperatures cool down again. Window air conditioners are great for rooms that are 150 square feet to 1,560 square feet in size. Depending on the room size, you will need a certain amount of British Thermal Units (BTUs) of power for the unit. A 150 sq ft room needs an air conditioner that has 5000 BTUs. At 450 sq ft, you need 10,000 BTUs. The largest room at 1,560 sq ft needs 24,500 BTUs. If you live in a well shaded location, drop your BTU need by 10%. Likewise, if the room you are cooling is exposed to a lot of direct sunlight throughout the day, add 10% to the BTU total. If you are cooling a kitchen, add a flat 4000 BTUs. For rooms with multiple occupants, such as a dorm or bedroom, add 600 BTUs per person.
Standalone AC units are very portable and can roll around on wheels, but they are less efficient than window units. For a 200 sq ft room, you need a unit with 8000 BTUs, and on the higher end of the scale, a 600 sq ft room needs a 14,000 BTU unit. Their main advantage is that they are very portable and the attached hose can be placed in a window for venting. They can also be easily put away as they are not quite as unwieldy as their window counterparts. They are ideal for small rooms or to boost the cooling abilities of a central air system.
Mini split and wall mounted units are about as efficient as a window unit and have similar needs as far as room size and BTUs. However, these units are permanent and cannot be removed from where they are installed. Some models have a heating function in addition to cooling, which can be useful for the winter. They tend to be the most expensive option, especially if you already have ductwork for a central air system. They also have to be installed on an exterior wall to ensure proper ventilation.
All AC units now are required to have an EER, or Energy Efficiency Rating. The EER is derived by dividing the BTUs by the AC’s wattage. The rating should lie between 8 and 11.5, with a larger number meaning better efficiency. To calculate the proper size AC you need, measure the length and width of the room you will be installing a unit in and consult the BTU calculator chart for windowed or standalone units to determine how many BTUs you need. Remember that sunny rooms need 10% more BTUs and shady rooms need 10% less.
Purchasing a higher efficiency AC will be more expensive, but by combining its efficiency with cheap electricity, you can really save a lot of money over the AC’s life, likely covering the cost of the unit. If you would like more information on switching energy providers and saving money on your energy needs, contact Shop Houston Electricity today