How to choose the right air conditioner – AHAM Consumer Blog

It’s easy to forget what a heat wave feels like until it happens. However, you’re already behind the cooling curve if you wait until temperatures approach triple digits to shop for an air conditioner. Plan now, before portable and room air conditioners fly off the shelves and you’re left overheated and longing for autumn’s cool relief.

Choosing the right air conditioner involves more than just looking at price and power. It is important to  understand the area you’re trying to cool before you buy an air conditioner. Buy too strong of a unit for the room size and you’ll use more power than you need. Take home a unit that doesn’t have enough capacity, and you may end up sweating (and, perhaps, swearing) while you use too much energy as your unit runs continuously but never quite cools the room.

First, decide whether a portable air conditioner or room air conditioner is best for your home. After you learn some of the differences, it’s time to figure out how much cooling capacity you’ll need your new air conditioner to deliver:

Check your measurements: Your first step is to determine the square footage of your room. Both portable and room air conditioners must be connected to a window, so you should also measure the window. Take both measurements with you when you shop. A portable air conditioner  will also take up floor space. Consider whether the physical size of the unit is appropriate for the room if you are buying a portable air conditioner.

Choose your capacity: Air conditioner capacity is measured in BTU (British thermal units). Check the unit labeling as you shop. You’ll likely see a chart with BTU and the appropriate room size for cooling. Choose a size appropriate for the room or rooms you’ll be cooling.  If you are placing the unit in a kitchen, sunny room, or room with high ceilings, you may need to size up.  Some manufacturers may also have capacity information available on its website.

Frigid features: Some units can be turned on or off via smartphone or tablet, so you can come home to a cooler space on a hot summer day. Others offer a “follow-me” function that measures the temperature both at the location of the unit and of the remote control. If you’re sitting across the room from the unit and holding the remote control, the unit will take the temperature in the remote into account and adjust its output based on both temperatures. Other features you might find are programmable timers and alerts that tell you when the AC filter needs to be changed.

What’s your plan for staying cool this summer?



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