How to Choose a Room Air Conditioner

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With summer comes the question of whether or not you should get a room air conditioner, and what kind to get. A few things to consider when choosing room air conditioners include budget, style, BTUs, and how energy-efficient it is. Read on, and learn exactly how to choose the best room air conditioner.

  • Set a budget. Room air conditioners vary in price depending mainly on energy efficiency, BTU rating, whether you get a portable or window air conditioner, and additional features. Determine how much you want to pay beforehand so you don't end up spending too much.

  • Decide between a portable and window air conditioner. Portable air conditioners are placed away from the window, and an exhaust hose is run from the unit to the window. A "window kit" is placed in the window to which the exhaust hose is attached to. This setup gives you the freedom to place the air conditioner in a greater number of places, takes up less space through the use of the "window kit," and lets you have an air conditioner even if your windows are small. The downside is that portable air conditioners are more expensive, and require more BTUs to cool the same sized room as a room air conditioner.

  • Choose the right number of BTUs for the room. While most air conditioners list the room size you can expect it to cool in addition to the BTU rating, keep in mind things that may increase or decrease your needs, including ceiling height, insulation type, a room that's shaded or in direct sunlight, a very hot outside temperature, a room that needs to be cooled to a very low temperature, heat-generating appliances in the room, and number of people in the room. For a formula and chart to help you decide how many BTUs you need, check the resources below.

  • Get an energy-efficient room air conditioner. Choosing an Energy Star room air conditioner is an easy way to save money on energy costs. If possible, however, it's best to compare the actual power consumption or energy efficiency rating of similar units to make sure you're getting the coolest room for the lowest price.

  • Consider other features. These include quality of air filter, speed controls, direction controls, timer settings, whether or not a remote control is included, and whether or not the room air conditioner will fit in your window.

  • Read customer reviews. There's no better way to make your final decision on a room air conditioner than by reading customer reviews. All the good and bad things will be revealed, such as how quiet the unit is, and each person's experience with how well it cools.

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