This year most of the U.S. has been stuck with record heat. As I sit here with the air conditioning blasting and the electric meter going around at a dizzying pace, I wonder how I ever survived a childhood without it.
When I was growing up, we lived in an old Civil War era house in Lafayette Square in St. Louis. The wealthy merchants who made their fortune off of the Mississippi River originally built the homes. Most of them moved to the Central West End after a disastrous tornado tore through the area around the turn of the century. Our house sat on a tree-lined street just off of the park and I think that the shade helped keep our house cool during the summer time. We had window fans in several of the windows and my grandfather bought a huge industrial-type box fan that sat in the window of his bedroom. I remember him rigging it up with an old wringer washing machine motor and the fan blades were driven with a rubber belt left over from the last car repair. The thing was huge and it was set up to blow out, pulling the warm air that had accumulated during the day outside. There were strict instructions not to turn the behemoth fan on during the day, it was only allowed to run after the sun had gone down. I remember that during the hottest days of the summer, it got fairly warm for a few hours in the afternoon, but there was a delicious gentle breeze coming through all of the cracked windows during the early morning and evening hours. With the windows open and the screens in place, you could hear all of the summer sounds of crickets chirping and birds calling, something that is missing when the house is shut down tight and the air conditioning is running.
The building that I currently live in is old by today’s standards, probably built sometime in the fifties. It lacks a tree-lined street as well as central air conditioning. Therefore, we have to make do with window units. Even if your house s equipped with central air, it might be wise to consider buying a room air conditioning unit. Today’s models are quieter and more efficient and come with many features lacking on some of the older models. You can use them to cool zones within your home and save energy by reducing the load on the central air conditioning.
Window air conditioners range in size from 5,000 BTUs, (British Thermal Units) to 24,000 BTUs. It’s important to consider the size of the unit as well as the size of the area that you’re planning to cool. If the unit is too small, it will run continuously without really cooling the room. If it is too large it won’t work effectively because the room will cool down so quickly that all of the humidity won’t be removed. The initial costs with a larger unit will be higher and it will also use more energy. First calculate the square footage of the room by multiplying the length of the room by the width. Then use the chart that is available at the dealer to estimate the size of the air conditioner window unit that you will need. Also look at the unit’s EER – Energy Efficiency Rating. The higher the rating, the less energy it will use, and the more money you will save.
If you have a room where a window is not available or an apartment where mounting the unit through the wall is not feasible, then you might consider getting a portable AC unit. Portable AC units use a window or venting kit to exhaust the hot air to the outside. The advantage with these air conditioners is that they are small and portable and can be used just about anywhere.
Ductless whole house systems have an outside condenser just like the central units, and several air handling units for the inside of the house. A conduit, which houses the power cable, tubing, and condensate drain, links the outdoor and indoor components through a small hole that is drilled in the wall.
Here are a few of the highest rated window units on the market today:
The Kenmore 75051 is a small 5,300 BTU unit that retails for about $150.00. It will cool a room about 150 square feet in size. The unit has an EER rating of 10.8. It also comes with an electronic touch pad control, a remote control, and a timer.
The GE AGM08LJ will cool approximately 400 square feet. It features electronic controls and a 24-hour delay timer. This unit has an EER rating of 10.8 and is considered one of the quietest on the market. It’s priced at about $250.00.
The size and shape aside, GE AGM08LJ is one of the best brands that you can find with controls that can be easily managed without too much inconvenience similar Blaux brand that is considerably cheaper at $230.00 and people still lookup for blaux portable ac reviews to get the best model available.
The Sunpentown WA-1205E is a 12,000 BTU portable air conditioner that will cool about 400 square feet. It features digital controls, 3 different cool settings and fan speeds. It comes with a timer and is a slim 19 inches. It retails in the $400.00 to $500.00 range.
The Fedders AGY18F7A has a cooling capacity of 18,000 BTUs. It is rated to cool up to 1,000 square feet of room space. At $450.00 this unit is a good value for the money. It has a respectable 9.7 EER rating. Some of the features include digital controls, 3 cool and fan speed settings, timer, 4 way air deflectors, and a childproof grill.
Though most window air conditioners will cool the amount of square footage that they claim to, be sure to compare models not only in price but also EER ratings, quietness, and ease of installation. You’ll find that they vary quite a bit. Then look for the one that has the features that work best for you.