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Choosing The Best Option
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Shopping Guide: Air Conditioners
It’s time: You’ve had enough sweating in your own home and leaving a puddle behind on your favorite couch. Stop ruining your furniture, and start looking for solutions. You should be comfortable in your living room, bedroom, garage, or any other room in your home.
No, you don’t need to install a sophisticated central A/C unit that can cost you thousands of dollars.
Instead, a window or portable unit will give you cool, crisp air at a fraction of the cost. Plus, some models take their performance a step further and double up as a dehumidifier or a small heater.
Before you start shopping, it’s important to know what you should look for in an air conditioner. If you don't do the research, you could end up with a unit that is about as useful as a table fan.
The four variables to start considering are the size of the area you want to be cooled, whether you want a dual-purpose dehumidifier/air conditioner, the model's energy efficiency, and portability.
The Size of Your Space
Are you planning on cooling down the whole house or just a small bedroom? Do you have a studio apartment or multiple bedrooms? The size of your home determines the kind of air conditioner you need.
As you take a look at our top 10 choices, you’ll see each option provides a number called their BTU. This stands for British Thermal Units, which is the measurement of thermal heat energy. When you get into the nitty-gritty, 1 BTU is the amount of energy it takes to raise a pound of water by 1°F at sea level.
Not to bring science class into this article about air conditioners, but BTUs give you a good understanding of how much cubic feet of air an air conditioner can cool down.
An air conditioner should handle 20 BTU per square foot of living space. An easy estimate to the BTUs your new unit should handle is to multiply your square footage by 20 BTU. Increase that number if the room will be used by multiple people or if there are appliances that give off heat, especially in a kitchen space. Also, you’ll want to take into consideration how hot the outside weather can get, so use 20 BTU as a baseline minimum.
Or, you can take a look at this easy guide as a quick reference:
Non-master bedroom is typically 100-200 sq. ft. so you’ll need a BTU of 5,000-6,000
Master bedroom is usually 350-450 sq. ft. so you’ll need a BTU of 9,000-10,000
Living area can average 450-650 sq. ft. so you’ll need a BTU of 12,000-14,000
This is one way you can narrow down your air conditioner search, but once you’ve determined the functional area you need to cover, it’s time you look at the other features of each unit.
How Humid is Your Home?
In a few of our top picks, you have the option to switch on the dehumidifier function of the air conditioner, which gives you control of how much moisture remains in the air of your home. This can also serve as an eco-friendly way to cool down your space since some units recycle this moisture and use it as coolant.
For dry climate areas, this is not as important, and you can save about two hundred dollars.
In terms of air conditioners, portability doesn’t just mean if the unit has wheels or not. Our top picks consist of window-mounted units and portable free-standing units, so it’s important that you take this into consideration when purchasing your new model.
Are you able to easily install a window unit yourself? Is your window capable of holding a window-mounted unit? Reviewers have mentioned turning to free-standing air conditioner units for homes with only one window because they didn’t want to lose the ability to open and close their window.
A window unit, like the Frigidaire FFRE0833S1, can provide a powerful performance by drawing outside air and filtering it directly into your home, eliminating allergens and keeping the air in your home clean and cool.
However, portable air conditioners are starting to step their game up in terms of power and design, so weigh both options before choosing one or the other.
Unfortunately, the unit itself isn’t the only cost associated with an air conditioner unit. If you’re responsible for energy bills, like most renters and homeowners are, then you need to see how energy efficient your unit is.
Your unit should not be eating away at your energy bill just to cool your air, and if it is, then it’s time to think about a replacement. New air conditioners are looking at ways to repurpose humidity and be more eco-friendly.
Also, take a look at which products you can easily clean — a clogged filter starts losing its efficiency and won’t cool a room as you want it to. Most of our top picks have filters that are washable and easy to clean, meaning that with just a little elbow grease, you can keep your energy usage low.
Stop Sweating and Start Living Happily
Tempers start to flare as soon as the temperature rises. Think of how many arguments you can avoid if the room temperature was just a few degrees cooler. We almost guarantee an air conditioner will improve your mood and even make you more productive at home.
Who wants to cook when it’s too hot in the kitchen? Why would you want to get off the couch when every step causes you to sweat? Take a look at our top 10 air conditioners, and let the cool air make you a happier person.
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