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Looking to Keep Cool? Here’s How to Select the Ideal Air Conditioning Unit

Looking to Keep Cool? Here’s How to Select the Ideal Air Conditioning Unit

When the weather heats up, a lack of air conditioning can lead to uncomfortable days and sleepless nights. Choosing a room air conditioner that suits your space and budget can keep you comfortable throughout the sweltering months.

Types of Room Air Conditioners

If you don’t have central AC or you want to supplement your existing central AC unit, a window air conditioner or portable air conditioner can help keep your living space cool. Both are self-contained cooling systems that disperse heated air outside.

Cool a Specific Room with a Window Air Conditioner

Popular in smaller homes and apartments, a window air conditioner is an affordable way to cool a specific room. This type of small air conditioner is easy to install into most window frames. It works by extracting hot and humid air, cooling and dehumidifying it, and then returning the cooled air back into the room. 
Features and Benefits: 
  • Fan-only setting for improved ventilation 
  • Sleep mode for comfortable sleeping conditions 
  • 24-hour timer for customized cooling 
  • Available in a variety of sizes and cooling capacities 
  • Doesn’t take up valuable floor space 
  • Units come with window filling panels to ensure a secure fit 
  • Many models come with digital controls and remotes 
  • Vertical air conditioner models for windows with a vertical orientation 
NOTE: Larger homes may require multiple units installed throughout. 

Browse our selection of window air conditioners.

Enjoy Cooling Versatility with a Portable Air Conditioner

portable air conditioner generally sits on the floor of a room. Heat is discharged through an exhaust hose that is typically vented out of a window. It is quick and easy to set up and remove when not required. A portable AC unit uses less of the window, although the venting kit will take up a bit of space. 
Features and Benefits: 
  • Freestanding unit is easy to move from room to room • Includes window venting kit with all included parts 
  • 24-hour timer and quiet operation 
  • Many models can function as an AC unit, dehumidifier and fan 
  • Some models also have a heat function 
  • Models with a self-evaporative system do not require a water bucket to empty 
  • Great for rooms with oddly shaped windows 
Browse out selection of portable air conditioners.

Beat the Heat by BTU and Room Size

When purchasing an air conditioning unit, you’ll see it has a BTU rating. BTUs (British thermal units) refer to the cooling power. The higher the BTU rating, the greater the cooling power of the air conditioner. It’s important to choose the correct BTU rating for your room size to ensure proper cooling and comfort levels. 
BTU Considerations: 
  • An oversized air conditioner is actually less effective: it wastes energy and can’t adequately dehumidify the room, leaving it feeling cool and clammy 
  • An air conditioner with too few BTUs for the room size will run continuously and be unable to cool efficiently, which also wastes energy 
Calculating Room Size 
Calculate room size by multiplying the room’s length by width in feet to determine the square footage of the space to be cooled. Make sure to account for extra calculations with oddly shaped rooms.  

Room Considerations: 
  • For heavily shaded rooms, reduce capacity by 10% 
  • For very sunny rooms, increase capacity by 10% 
  • In a kitchen, increase capacity by 4000 BTUs 
  • For rooms regularly occupied by more than two people, add an additional 600 BTUs per person. 
  • Increase the BTUs for high ceilings (those over traditional 8-foot ceiling height)
Cooling Capacity 
Once you’ve calculated the size of the room (with any additional considerations accounted for), use a cooling capacity chart to determine the BTU capacity you need.
Energy Efficiency Rating  
All room air conditioners are labeled with a standardized EER (Energy Efficiency Rating). The EER ranges from 8.5 to 11. Here are some factors to consider: 
  • The higher the rating, the more energy-efficient the model 
  • A model with a higher rating can cost more, but it will result in lower monthly electric bills 
  • ENERGY STAR-certified room air conditioners are more efficient and cost less to run than non-certified models 

Check the air conditioner’s EnerGuide label to determine its efficiency.

Steps for Successful Air Conditioning Installation

Installing a window air conditioner is a quick and easy DIY job. Check out these general guidelines for an overview of the process. 

TIP: The unit can be heavy and awkward to handle. Install with two people to ensure safety. 

Tools Required: 
  • Screw driver 
  • Measuring tape
  • Level 
  • Included mounting hardware and brackets 
  1. Make sure there is an outlet close by: if you need more length, use an extension cord rated for air conditioner use  
  2. Measure the width and the height of the window opening to make sure the air conditioner will fit  
  3. Prepare the side panels as directed (if not pre-attached) 
  4. Open the window’s lower pane, remove the window screen and clean the area  
  5. Centre the AC unit in your window and fasten it to the brackets (if included), or tightly close the window on top of the unit 
  6. Extend the side panels to fill the empty space and secure them to the window jam as directed  
  7. Seal the inside with weatherstripping (may be provided) and caulk around the outside  
  8. Plug in the unit, turn it on and enjoy your cool and comfortable room! 
IMPORTANT: Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing a new air conditioning unit.
The right home air conditioner sets you up to enjoy the hot summer months in cool comfort. Whether you choose a window air conditioner to conserve floor space or a portable air conditioner for its easy versatility, we have a model to meet your needs. Explore our selection and get ahead of the heat.
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