Portable or window unit? Central air or ductless system? Here’s how to make the right choice to keep your home cool all summer.
Selecting the proper air conditioning system for your space involves weighing several factors: the type of room, its total cubic footage, the number of people typically using the space, and the room’s exposure to sunlight.
A professional heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) specialist can help you evaluate your space. Then they can suggest the most suitable system from among these options:
When selecting your unit, familiarize yourself with a few abbreviations that distinguish models on the market. First, air conditioners are rated by a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER). SEER is the measurement of an air conditioner’s efficiency (the ratio of its cooling output to its energy input) over an entire cooling season.
Then, the British thermal unit (BTU) rating indicates cooling capacity — how quickly and effectively a unit can cool a given room.
Furthermore, the factor most closely tied to your electric bill is the energy efficiency ratio (EER), which is the ratio of cooling capacity to electrical input — this figure tells you how efficiently an air conditioner operates. You can find the EER rating on each unit’s yellow Energy Guide label. A typical range runs from 8 to 11.5, with 10 or higher considered the most efficient.
If energy efficiency is top of mind for you, consider a unit certified under the U.S. Energy Star program, which recognizes models with good SEER and EER ratings. An Energy Star-approved room air conditioner runs about 10 percent more efficiently than an older unit. On the other hand, Energy Star-approved central unit might be 15 percent more efficient than its standard counterpart. In addition to the energy savings a higher-rated product provides, your state and local municipalities may also offer rebates or other incentives to consumers for making an energy-smart choice.
Once you’ve chose a unit, operating it efficiently will go a long way toward keeping your home cool and your utility bills low.