If you live in above the Mason-Dixon line, then you are probably familiar with window air conditioning units but for those that were born and raised in the south they might seem something quite out of the ordinary the first time you lay eyes on them. A window air conditioner is a good solution for homes in areas with relatively short and moderate summer months and low humidity. One unit is good for cooling one closed off room or two open area rooms. The real benefit to the homeowner is the lower energy cost for cooling only those areas needed at the times needed rather than cooling the whole house. If you live in the south or other areas of the country that experience extreme heat or humidity, window units are not a good long term solution primarily because the resale value of your home will go down dramatically in those areas without a central air conditioning system.
There are some situations where a homeowner may have both a central system and window units. One example of this is where a homeowner is looking to save money by running the central air conditioning system less (say 79 degrees instead of 73), then augmenting the cooling in the den, or bedroom, or whatever room the family occupies the most. A good rule of thumb is that you will save 5% on your central air conditioning power consumption for ever degree that you sacrifice, so in this case the homeowner is saving 30% on the central system and consuming quite less than that on the window systems. If you are looking at possible doing the same, then the first thing to do is to make sure that there are not zoning laws or deed restrictions preventing you from running window units in your neighborhood. Even though noise is not a big issue with a lot of the latest makes and models, these deed restrictions still exist with noise as the justification just because some neighborhoods consider them an ‘eye sore’.
If you have decided that a window air conditioner is suitable for your situation, then there are a few thing that you need to know or decide upon before shopping:
- What is the area of the home to be cooled? This can be determined by measuring the length, width, and height of the room. Buying a unit that is too small for the room will not cool it down to where you want it to be. Buying a unit that is too big for a room will cause it to short-cycle which will use more energy than necessary and will not dehumidify properly.
- What is the minimum energy efficiency rating that you will want? The higher the EER rating the lower your electrical consumption for the same cooling power, however the higher EER units usually carry a higher price tag. You may also want to check EnergyStar.gov to see if the unit(s) you are looking at qualify for any energy tax credits which will help to lower your effective purchase price.
- Features that the unit should have which will help keep you comfortable and lower the overall usage costs are:
- A built in timer so you can start and stop the unit at preset times. This is good for cooling a room before you get home from work, or turning it off after you fall asleep.
- An internal thermostat so you can set the unit for a specific temperature.
- Variable speed fan control.
- An optional internal/external cover for the unit for the months it is not in use will minimize cold are seeping through into a heated area.
With the current state-of-the-art in air conditioning technology, any home owner should be able to configure the perfect scenario to cool their home in the most energy efficient way possible.