Before choosing your new window air conditioner, you need to ask the dealer a few important questions, including ratings of various units. For instance, the British Thermal Unit (BTU) rating indicates the energy the unit supplies, and large rooms may require a higher BTU. Inquire about the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) as well, as a higher number indicates better efficiency. You should also ask about various features, in order to decide which would be most useful for you.
Ask the following three questions, then ponder your options:
1. Is the BTU Rating Sufficient?
The BTU rating should be adequate for your room size. For instance, if the room measures 500 square feet, you'd do best with a 12,000 BTU model. Larger rooms measuring about 1,000 square feet might require a unit with 18,000 BTU or greater. If the room has very high ceilings, a higher BTU rating may be necessary.
There are other factors that may determine the most suitable BTU. Does the room receive direct sunlight or is it in the shady part of the house? If sunlight hits the room directly much of the day, you may want to increase the BTU by a small percentage. Kitchens may require increased BTUs as well. Conversely, if your room is shaded, you may do fine with a slightly lower BTU than recommended for the room dimensions.
2. What is the Unit's Energy Efficiency Ratio? To help keep energy costs down, look for an air conditioner that is energy efficient. This is generally judged by Energy Efficiency Ratio, commonly referred to as EER ratings. Basically, EER ratings determine how many BTUs are used per hour over the wattage it draws. Ask the dealer what EER rating is best for the wattage and BTUs of the unit you're considering. You should find the ratings listed on the packaging.You might expect to pay a higher cost for models with high energy efficiency ratings.
3. What Optional Features Are Available? While some optional features in a window air conditioner may be useful, they're not always necessary and may drive up the initial purchase price. Consider what features you're likely to use frequently, then determine if it will be worth the extra price you may incur. Some useful features you may find are:
A filter change indicator: This helpful option lets you know when your dirty filter should be changed. If your busy lifestyle often leads you to forget filter changing times, the filter change indicator light will help you stay on schedule. It also eliminates the need to keep checking the filter periodically.
Digital Control Panel: Rather than a unit that requires mechanical operation to turn the cooling cycles on and off, a digital system utilizes a temperature control setting. This allows you to set the desired temperature to your liking. When the room reaches the set temperature, it will automatically shut off. It turns back on when the room temperature drops below the temperature setting. Some digital systems feature preset temperature controls as well.
Clean Air Ionizer: A built-in ionizer function will clean the air and filter out debris, such as cigarette smoke and pet dander. This feature is useful for allergy sufferers and those with respiratory conditions such as asthma or emphysema.
Dual-Function Air and Heat: A built-in heating unit will heat your room during colder weather. This option is helpful if you only need to heat one room rather than the entire house.
Remote Control: The controller allows you to control the unit from any area in the room. This is convenient for adjusting settings from the bed or easy chair.
A few final thoughts: If you're uncertain of installation requirements, check with your contractor or the manufacturer. Also, be sure the model includes necessary brackets and window extensions. These may be pre-installed or require assembly. For more information, contact a local HVAC company like Now Heating & Air.