Air conditioning units come in many models. Most new homes are now built with central air, while older buildings originally came with nothing. Today, homeowners, apartment dwellers, and townhouse renters can choose from a variety of ways to cool down their living spaces. HVAC technicians are kept busy all through the year installing new units into homes and upgrading existing units.
Department stores are particularly busy during the summer months, and specifically, during a heat wave. Window air conditioners fly out the door and it is incredibly difficult to find an electric fan to purchase anywhere in the city. When choosing your air conditioner, however, what are the top points to consider? Here, we will examine eleven tips to look for when buying an air con unit.
Five Points to Consider When Purchasing a Portable Air Conditioner:
- Measure the room or space you wish to cool. Understand, in square footage, how big the area is before you go to the store. Many people are under the mistaken perception that bigger is better. Not so with air conditioners. If you buy an excessively large air conditioner for the space, you not only lose money in electricity costs trying to run the high BTU unit, but you will find the area damp and humid. Likewise, if the unit is too small, you will be running it night and day to try to cool the area. The BTU will not be enough to keep the area comfortable. Most times, the room is not going to feel cool at all, so you defeat the purpose of the A/C. Other factors play into the decision when looking for the right BTU. For example, units placed in the kitchen will need to be more powerful, as the kitchen is typically warmer due to the stove and oven. A bedroom with several people may need extra BTU, and sunny rooms will need more. Shady and dark rooms, however, need less cooling power.
- Physical size is important, as well, since you cannot install a thirty inch wide unit into a twenty-four inch window sill. Take accurate measurements of the window frame, so that you place the unit correctly and safely. You should also determine whether the window is solid enough to hold the unit. If not, you may need to add some wood or metal braces for added support.
- Consider where the condensation is going to fall. For example, if you place the unit in a second floor window above an open veranda, do you want water spilling down on the area?
- If the air conditioner will be up high, then you will require a remote control to adjust the cooling settings. This type of A/C unit is electronically controlled. It has a digital display and touch pad to set the temperature. A manually controlled unit, on the other hand, does not work with a remote. It generally has a knob with high, medium and low settings.
- Stay away from old, used air conditioners. Although the price might be right, the unit may not meet current safety guidelines. In fact, today, it is probably prudent to buy a portable air conditioner that is stamped with the Energy Star label or logo.
Six Points to Consider When Purchasing a Central Air Unit:
- During the spring and autumn, many local central air installers distribute coupons for discounts to buy air conditioners out of season. Often, they advertise last year’s model, so that customers can benefit from reduced rates. The customers receive a discount on the installation fees, as well as, a substantial savings on the unit itself. This is a great relief to many homeowners, but be sure to read the fine print and understand what you are receiving before ordering. For example, do the discounted units carry the same warranty as current models? Who will service the unit in case of problems? Is the discontinued model just an earlier version or has the company completely gone out of business?
- To determine the right central air conditioning unit, you will need the total square footage of your home or office.
- Look for companies that have been in business for a long time with an excellent track record. Remember that you will not be installing the unit yourself. The installation team will be making a hole in the outer wall of your home and in some instances will be hooking the unit into the furnace. It is not enough to know something about the company that makes the unit. You need to know about the installer, as well.
- It may be necessary to change your existing thermostat in order to operate the A/C. If you have one of the old fashioned manual dials, you will probably consider purchasing a more modern electronic version. By doing so, you will find you save money on your heating bill, as the temperatures are more accurate.
- The actual unit is placed outside the home and generally sits on a level concrete pad. Before you order a unit, make sure you have the space for it to sit properly, and that the area is prepared for the installer. For example, any bushes removed, tall grass, etc.
- Other features that you might wish to consider are the noise of the unit, the energy efficiency rating, the existence of a variable speed fan to keep air circulating instead of cooling, and the number of registers in the home to direct the air.
Finally, whether you choose a portable A/C, a window A/C, a wall unit, or central air, you want to choose the right unit for the space or home. The biggest mistake most consumers make when choosing an air conditioning unit is they buy on price alone.