With gas prices at all-time highs, energy costs are on consumers’ minds. The last thing you want to do is spend more than you need to cool your home as temperatures rise. Buying a new energy-efficient air conditioning unit can pay for itself in cost savings in no time.
It’s important to consider two important factors to get the maximum benefit — cooling capacity and efficiency. Many people size air conditioners incorrectly, purchasing an air conditioner with more cooling capacity than needed.
More is not necessarily better — a unit with too much capacity may cool a room so quickly that it won’t run long enough to lower humidity. This results in a cold, clammy feeling caused by chilly, humid air. More importantly, you will be wasting energy and lots of money.
To help you determine what size room air conditioner you need, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), a nonprofit trade association, has developed a “Cooling Calculator.” This calculator, along with other useful information about room air conditioners, can be found on www.CoolOff.org. The Web site will take you through a series of questions, before recommending models that fit your needs.
Once you know what size unit you need, consider its operating efficiency. The higher the energy efficiency ratio, or EER, the more efficient the model. When shopping, you’ll also want to look for the “AHAM-certified” seal. Models certified through AHAM’s program have been tested and their performance verified by an independent laboratory, assuring consumers that the product will perform according to the manufacturer’s product claims for BTU’s per hour, amps and efficiency.
Once you have the perfect air conditioner for your home size, you’ll want to keep it running smoothly.
Here are some maintenance tips from the AHAM:
• Turn off the unit and open doors and windows during cooler periods.
• Use the unit fan and portable fans to draw in cooler outside air and increase circulation.
• Use a higher (warmer) thermostat setting during peak periods or when the area is unoccupied. A 75 to 80 degree setting will cut power consumption by 15 percent.
• Don’t let heat build up all day and then try to cool areas quickly by turning the controls to maximum settings.
• Draw the shade or window blinds to reduce solar and outdoor heat.
• Regularly change or clean filters and check air flow for blockage or frost on evaporator coil.