How To: Buy An Air Conditioner

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Dept. of Cool. As summer approaches and all those AC's that have been languishing on Craigslist all winter look a lot more palatable, we thought it would be good to get out some tips on air conditioners. Who better to turn to than a fellow who has become an avid reader and sells lots of them, Levi Capland.

While he is totally biased as to WHERE you buy them, he is totally objective when it comes to HOW to buy them. This is what he says:

A. The goal is to buy an efficient unit that will cool the room using the least amount of electricity.

B. Know what you need. Figure out how many btu's your room requires.

Simplest way to do so is length x width x 35=btu's. Or sq ft x 35.

If you have high ceilings, are on a high floor of a bldg, have a kitchen attached to the room you are cooling, or get a lot of sunlight you want to multiply by 45.

C. Buying an undersized a/c b/c its cheap will save you in the short run, but you pay a lot in the long run. If the unit you buy is not strong enough to cool your room, all you will end up doing is paying very high electric bills. If it is too strong the unit will simply freeze over.

D. Energy Star units will save you about $15.00 in elec. bills per season. The higher the EER (energy efficiency rating) the more energy efficient the unit is.

E. With the exception of one model by Airtemp, all a/c's over 15000 btu are 220 voltage. Airtemp makes an 18000 btu on 110 voltage.

F. If trying to cool off more than 1 room, take into consideration that the further the cool air travels the faster it drops.

G. I see too many people trying to buy a 5000 btu unit for a 250 sq ft. room. I tell all my customers who are insistent on buying what they want (not what I suggest) "I will sell it to you, but I will not guarantee it to work for you."

Levi Capland (718.252.4000 ext 118)

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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.