Keep Your Cool: Air Conditioning 101

Keep Your Cool: Air Conditioning 101

Rachel Atwood
Aug 4, 2011

It's hot and it looks like temps are going to continue staying on the upper end of the thermometer for awhile. Using your air conditioner effectively, balancing comfortable temperature with energy use and effectiveness can be daunting, especially for those still wondering what type of AC unit is best for their room (size vs. power). We take a look at a few tips on how to beat the heat and discuss the different type of units worth considering...

How To Use Your Air Conditioner Most Effectively

  1. Keep your thermostat between above 72º and below 82º to conserve energy. Setting the thermostat to 56º does not make your AC work faster or harder to cool you down, and is a waste of energy.
  2. Purchase a machine that is the right size for the space you want to cool. The bigger machine is not always the best. EnergyStar has this helpful chart for picking out a properly sized AC unit.
  3. Check filters monthly, replace when necessary to keep air flow at fullest.
  4. Check the coils of your indoor/outdoor unit, because they attract dust, and dust will lead to poor performance.
  5. Close off the rooms you are not using and close their ducts. The less room you have to cool, the better.
  6. Avoid using a humidifier while the AC is running. This just makes the AC work harder.
  7. Keep your thermostat away from high-energy appliances like TVs or computers, because the thermostat will pick up on their heat reading and run longer than necessary.
  8. if you're in the mood for some DIY, seal up all of the air leaks around the house, since this is a big waste of AC/heating energy in summer and winter.

What Type of Air Conditioner is Right for You?

Window Air Conditioner: As the name suggests, these types of air conditioners will sit in your window and are similar to their cousin, the Wall Mounted AC. Window AC units are usually made for double-hung windows, are generally the cheapest option, and are the easiest to install. They can also be easily removed when the heat season is over.
Good For: Apartments, Dorms, Renters
Product Suggestions:

  • Frigidaire FRA256ST2 25,000/24,700 Window-Mounted Heavy Duty Room Air Conditioner for $549
  • LG Energy Star 10,000 BTU Window Air Conditioner with Remote for $287

    Wall Mounted Air Conditioner: A close cousin to the Window AC, the Wall Mounted AC will require you to have a hole cut into your wall. While a hassle to install, they are usually the easiest to remove and repair and range around the same price as the Window AC.
    Good For: Home Owners, Renters (but talk to the owner first!)
    Product Suggestions:

  • Haier 2XLV1 Indoor Unit, 12, 000 BtuH, 13 SEER, 115V for $367
  • Sanyo 09KS71 Ductless Mini-Split Wall-Mount Single Zone Air Conditioner-9,0 for $967

    Portable Air Conditioner: Big and bulky, you don't have to do any kind of installation and can be wheeled around your living space as needed, but they'll cost you more than a Window or Wall Mounted unit for the convenience.
    Good For: Apartments, Dorms, Renters, Home Owners
    Product Suggestions:

  • SPT WA-1140DE Dual-Hose 11,000-BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Remote Control for $460
  • Whynter SNO 12000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner for $460

    Central Air Conditioner: While you can get either Split-System or a Packaged Unit, these are the big metal boxes you either see in one's backyard or on the rooftops of buildings. Central ACs are generally more efficient then the previously mentioned types, are usually out of sight and hearing, but will cost the most money for the unit and the installation. Call your local Central Air company to find out the best unit and price for your home. They will be able to install your Central AC unit properly according to your city/state guidelines.
    Good For: Home Owners who live in high-temp areas

    Related Posts:

  • Why You Might Want to Leave the A/C On During Vacation
  • The Best Way to Close Off Any Vent
  • How Often Should I Replace My Air Filter?

    (Image: skippyjon & jthetzel licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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