Good Questions: Good Energy Efficient AC Units?

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Hello AT,

My husband and I moved into our nyc apartment in the fall, when the temperatures were balmy and the thought of window AC units was in the not-so-distant future. Given the recent temperature spike, we're now in the market. But we're also trying to create a greener home. Any suggestions for good, energy-efficient AC units? We're buying two, so we can't spend a fortune, but I'm hot-natured and hate the heat, so it's a very important purchase.

Thanks for your help! Elizabeth

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Dear Elizabeth,

The most energy efficient way to cool your house is to create a cross breeze by putting one fan facing outward in one window and opening another window at the most opposite point. Sealing all the space around the fan will make its ability to pull air through your house very strong. This will actually get you through most of the summer very comfortably and your use of energy will be low.

Now as for AC units, usually the little "energy star" stickers on some models are your best guide. Here's the lowdown on EnergyStar and here's a bit more on buying them:

When buying a new AC unit, look for a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) of 13 or higher on central systems and the ENERGY STAR label on room units. In arid climates, evaporative coolers are much more efficient (and less costly) than AC. They also add needed moisture to the air, while AC units further dry the air. (ASE.org)

But would be nice to have a little more information. We found this great link, Air Conditioners Reviews at ConsumerSearch, where you can expect to find a good run down on American AC units through last summer.

Anyone else?

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Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.

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