This article comes from Good Housekeeping.
Tips For Buying A New Air Conditioner
There’s nothing better than air conditioning on a hot day — and the technology keeps getting cooler. The latest air conditioner units sport digital displays, timers, remote controls, and even “smart” fans that automatically adjust speeds to maintain desired temps. They’re also quieter, more energy-efficient, and easier to install and maintain than units made only a few years ago. But if you’re wondering what to look for when buying an air conditioner this summer, here’s what to consider:
First, what are the different types of air conditioning units?
There are four main types of air-conditioning units. They are:
1. Window-mounted air conditioners
The most common type of air conditioner is a window-mounted unit, which temporarily resides in a window opening. You can buy a cooling-only unit or a cooling/heating unit for supplemental heat if your home is located in an area with moderate temperatures. If you live in the north, it’s good to remove units at the end of the warm weather season.
- Low cost
- Works with existing electrical wiring in your home
- Easy to install
- Often designed for double-hung windows
- Must ensure the unit will fit inside window dimensions
2. Wall-mounted air conditioners
These air conditioners are permanently mounted by attaching a metal sleeve through the wall and sliding in the AC chassis from inside. Wall-mounted units also come in cooling-only or cooling/heating varieties.
- Aesthetically appealing
- Fits more securely than window units
- Doesn’t obstruct sunlight
- No off-season storage necessary
- Installation can get costly — you must cut an opening through an outside wall, and larger units may require installation of a dedicated 220-volt line
- Many models don’t include the exterior metal sleeve, so you’ll need to purchase it separately (costing $50 to $100)
3. Window/wall-mounted air conditioner
This versatile type can be temporarily installed in a window or permanently mounted in a wall.
- Versatility is ideal; can suit a rental apartment window now, or a home wall installation later
- Usually lack window installation kits (nuts, bolts, and frame needed to secure the unit in a window)
- You may need a dedicated 220-volt circuit
4. Portable air conditioner
This is a mobile air conditioner on wheels that can be rolled from room to room and includes a tube to exhaust heat out of a window or through an opening in a wall.
- Easy to store at the end of the season
- Readily fits in more window sizes/types than traditional window units
- Higher-priced than comparable window units
- Takes up floor space
- Exhaust tube must be installed each time it’s moved
What AC features should I look for?
Here are some important air conditioner features you’ll want to look for in order to save time and energy and improve the quality of your air.
- Energy-saver switch: Normally, an air conditioner’s fan runs constantly, even when the compressor is turned off. But with an energy-saving switch, the fans turn off when the thermostat turns off the compressor, saving you money.
- “Check filter” light: A visual reminder to clean or change the filter.
- Oscillating vents: An internal motor that automatically sweeps the unit’s airflow from side to side, cooling the room more evenly.
- Remote control: This handy option lets you adjust the temp from anywhere in the room. Great for increasing the temperature/thermostat in the middle of the night when your body temperature drops.
- Sleep mode: Slightly raises the room’s temperature setting at night to avoid nighttime chills.
- Timer: Automatically turns the unit on or off at a predetermined time when you’re not there, letting a room cool down or heat up before you enter.
- Ventilation/exhaust: Lets fresh air from outside circulate into the room.
- Manufacturer’s warranty: Generally ranges from one to two years for parts and labor.
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