Choosing Your Air Conditioner
If you’re like most people and want the biggest and best for your family without breaking the bank, it’s a good idea to do some simple measurements and make sure you’re not overcooling. In fact, getting a unit that is larger than necessary can actually result in uneven cooling along with wasted energy. You’re paying more for an AC unit that does a poorer job.
To make sure you don’t get an air conditioner that is too big or too small, measure out the actual cooling space you’ll be using it for. A good air conditioner will need about 20 Btu per square foot you plan on cooling at once. So, if you’re cooling a single 225 square foot room, you could get away with a 4,500 Btu air conditioner in your window.
However, if you plan on installing a ductless split or packaged air conditioning system in your home to cool multiple rooms, you should calculate the amount of space that will be cooled on a hot day and use that to determine the best size air conditioner. There are other issues to keep in mind as well, including the rise and fall of cool and hot air, shared space between rooms and zone control systems. However, an experienced AC technician can help you make the right estimate for your space.
One of the biggest fears most homeowners have when installing an air conditioner is the sudden spike in electricity use and the bill that usually follows soon after. To avoid those bills, there are some things you can do.
To start with, raise your thermostat ever so slightly. If you combine an air conditioner with an effective dehumidifier, you won’t need to set your AC unit to 72 degrees to be comfortable. In fact, anything up to 78 degrees should be comfortable if you can reduce the humidity in your home. For each degree you lower your thermostats below 78 degrees, your overall energy use will go up by 8%.
One thing to keep in mind is that a dehumidifier will force your air conditioning unit to work harder, in effect costing you more money. So, run the dehumidifier only when the air conditioner is not on, preferably when you’re not home.
To help reduce the need for that cooling unit to be on, shade the windows that get the most sunlight from the east and west. Simple awnings can reduce your energy use significantly if they are installed early in the summer. Additionally, don’t turn on your oven or dishwasher until absolutely necessary, preferably later in the day.
Make sure to check the coils on your air conditioning unit every year before operation. Whether indoor or outdoor, these coils will attract dust throughout the season. Removing that dust can improve efficiency immediately, so it should be done regularly. You should also check the refrigerant levels in your air conditioner regularly. Trained technicians can check your charges and ensure you are ready for even the hottest days before your AC unit gets flipped on this summer.