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Shopping for an Air Conditioner

               What do I need to know?

When shopping for an air conditioner, consider what size of unit will best suit your needs. A bigger unit is not always better.  A unit that is too large will not cool the area uniformly.  An oversize unit will cool an area too quickly, resulting in the air conditioner to frequently turn on and off, and will not run long enough to  reduce the humidity in the room, resulting in the air feeling cold and clammy at the normal thermostat setting.

As with a larger unit not being better, the same goes with selecting a smaller unit.  A unit that is not large enough for the square footage will run constantly on hot days and will not be able to cool the room adequately.

Consider the dimensions of the area to be cooled and how that area is used.  An air conditioner generally needs 20 Btu for each square foot of living space.  For instance, a room that is 15’ wide and 20’ long, you would calculate: 15 x 20 x 20(Btu) = 6,000.  Thus, an air conditioner with a 6,000 Btu capacity would be required.

Calculating the Btu requirements becomes more complicated when you facet in the room’s use, or if you use passive cooling techniques such as shading, ventilation or vegetation, your Btu estimate can be lowered.  In addition, your Btu needs are increased by factors such as the size of the household, frequent use of heat-producing appliances, or summer humidity levels.  An appliance dealer will use these factors to adjust your estimated Btu requirement.  For the most efficient cooling, purchase a unit with a capacity within 5% of this estimate.

When choosing between units with similar prices, capacities and features, energy efficiency should be the deciding factor.  Even though an energy efficient unit may cost more, it may be the best buy.  High efficiency appliances cost less to operate and can pay back the extra initial cost many times over during their lifetimes.

All room air conditioners bear bright yellow EnergyGuide labels which provide information on energy efficiency.  EnergyGuide labels are mandated by Congress as part of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975.  The label displays an energy efficiency rating (EER) in large black numbers.  The higher the rating, the more efficient the appliance.  Units with an EER of 9.0 or above are considered very efficient.

Central air conditioners are rated according to their Seasonal Energy Efficient Ratio (SEER).  Like the EER, the higher the SEER, the more efficient the system.  To compare the efficiency of two units with equal cooling capacity, take the difference in SEER’s and divide by the large SEER.  For example, if system A has a SEER of 6, and system B has a SEER of 8, system B will provide the same amount of cooling as system A while consuming 25% less energy (8 – 6 = 2; 2/8 = 25).

Finally, compare warranties and maintenance agreements when buying an air conditioner.  Ask about any rebates or tax incentives that may be available through the company.


A Division of Two Seasons Holdings LLC

515 E. Carefree Highway, Suite 360
Phoenix, Arizona 85085

FAX: 623-535-5940

ROC 218834

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