Chill Out With a Window Air Conditioner
Record high temperatures this summer are exposing weaknesses in
the nation's air conditioning armor. Tough-to-cool spots such as
upstairs bedrooms may have reached the boiling point. As you
laid sweating on your bed last night, you made up your mind to
get relief. But how? With a window A/C unit!
Installing a window unit allows you to turn the central system
higher at night for energy savings. And running it won't break
the budget, either. The new window air conditioners are getting
quieter, more energy efficient, and more sophisticated. Prices
start at under $200 and range higher according to capacity,
efficiency, and features.
Look for the EER (energy-efficiency rating) when you are
shopping for air conditioners. The higher the EER posted on the
equipment, the less electricity it will take to run it - which
means you save money on utility bills. A rating of 9.0 is
currently considered a good EER for home air conditioners. Some
window units also have an "energy saving setting" that switches
the blower off when the compressor stops to save electricity.
Capacity. All AC equipment is rated in BTUs (British Thermal
Units). Room air conditioner BTU ratings range from 5,000 -
25,000 BTUs. If you are interested in cooling one bedroom, a
5,000 BTU unit may be sufficient. The best way to accurately
determine the right size air conditioner is through a Cooling
Load Estimate. This calculation translates factors that include
square footage of windows and number of people using the rooms
into a BTU rating. If you want to know how to do your own
Cooling Load Estimate, send a self-addressed, stamped, long
envelope to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers and
ask for their Cooling Load Estimate Form. The address for AHAM
is 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60606.
Air Flow Directional Controls. These allow you to direct the air
to cool a room evenly. Some models do not have them, while
others might be equipped with three or four settings, on up to
models that allow flow adjustment in eight different directions.
You also have the oscillator option--automatic back-and-forth air
Blower Speed Settings. Enable you to custom cool your room: high
for fast cooling and low for peace and quiet. Look for at least
three blower speeds.