When the weather heats up, a new Energy Star® certified room air conditioner can help you keep your cool and lower your summer cooling bills. Energy Star units use 10 percent less energy and on average cost less than $70 per year to run.
The most important consideration in buying a window air conditioner is properly sizing it to the room. Bigger isn’t always better, and buying an air conditioner that’s too large won’t provide better cooling. In fact, an oversized air conditioner actually will be less effective, cooling the room before it has a chance to remove the humidity. The result will be a room that’s not very comfortable to spend time in, because the cool, moist air will make the room feel damp and clammy.
When you go shopping, take the measurements of the room with you. The chart (right) will help get you started on what size air conditioner to buy.
Be sure to make adjustments for these circumstances:
- If the room is heavily shaded, reduce capacity by 10 percent.
- If the room is very sunny, increase capacity by 10 percent.
- If more than two people regularly occupy the room, add 600 BTUs for each additional person.
- If the unit is used in a kitchen, increase capacity by 4,000 BTUs.
- If you’re mounting the air conditioner near the corner of a room, look for a unit that can send airflow in the right direction.
Also look for a unit with a motor that’s acceptably quiet on all speeds, as well as side curtains or sliding panels that fit tightly to keep bugs, rain and hot air outside. Consider some or all of these features too:
- Remote control
- 24-hour on/off timer
- Adjustable or oscillating louvers
- Dehumidification settings
- Built-in ionizing air filter
- Anti-theft measures
What's the future of window air conditioners?
Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, the Noria is unlike any window air conditioner you’ve seen. Less than 6 inches tall, it’s about 40 percent smaller than a conventional unit and lets you keep the view out your window. The Noria weighs about 30 pounds and has a built-in carrying handle, so it’s easy to install and store (even under a bed or in a closet) during cold-weather months.
The 5,000-BTU Noria features a single knob for power and setting the temperature. That’s all that’s necessary for cooling, because the appliance’s design directs cool air toward the ceiling, creating a convection cycle that prevents cold and hot spots in up to a 10x16-foot room. There’s also a fresh-air mode that brings in cool air without using the compressor – and you can control the unit from your smartphone.
The Noria currently is in the final stages of testing, and it should be available April 2017 for about $400. (Presale prices are lower.) For more details, go to www.kickstarter.com and enter Noria in the search box at the top of the page.