Knowing which air conditioner to buy for a room requires some knowledge as to the size and use of the room. The size of the room, for instance, will tell the retailer how many BTUs (British Thermal Units) your air conditioner should have. These BTUs are affected by the number of people using the room and also by the amount of sun or shade that the room enjoys.
Matching the size of the AC to your home is the key to energy savings.
So, the first priority is to know what size of air conditioner you need if you are looking for energy efficiency. Having an air conditioner that is too small will mean it runs constantly. Having one which is too large will also mean it runs constantly and will leave the room damp and clammy.
Whole House Air Conditioners
The most popular type of whole house cooling is central air conditioning. It takes a qualified technician to install this type of air conditioner correctly as it will need to be connected to the duct work. You may find help at the ACCA website. Consumer reviews rate the following as top in this category:
- 16 to 23 SEER air conditioner with a higher price but lower running cost
- 14.5 to 17 SEER air conditioner that is mid range and balanced between purchase price and running cost
- 13 to 14.5 SEER is right if you are on a budget or use the unit very little.
EER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. You will find the information on the yellow guide that comes with the unit.
You should avoid buying old air conditioners that are less than 13 SEER because they are very inefficient by today’s standards.
A heat pump works like a central air conditioner in reverse and uses the same cooling technology. The advantage of a heat pump is that it gives electricity savings of 36% compared to an air conditioner. Your initial cost will be higher but you will save in the long run.
Window Air Conditioners
A window model of air conditioner is easier to install and costs much less than a central air conditioning unit. You should be able to install it yourself by following the guide that comes with the unit. However, remember to measure your window carefully before you buy. Most of these window units can also be installed as through-the-wall units by adding a frame. Alternatively, you could consider a portable model that can be moved from room to room.
Advantages of room air conditioners:
- The filters are easier to access and clean. This should be done regularly for best efficiency.
- Timers or thermostats allow you more flexibility when programming the AC.
- You also have variable fan speeds.
You can change settings easily to night time or energy saving when you want the AC to operate on a low setting.