Summer challenges your heat tolerance, but fine-tuning your air conditioner is a simple task. The hard part is deciding what to do if you don't have an A.C. unit or if you want to replace the one you do have.
What should you look for when making a selection? How do you decide between one model and another? The following five questions are crucial for making this decision. If you know the answers, you’ll pass with flying colours.
1. What system should you choose?
Here, the answer is simple, because you only have three options to choose from:
- Split-system air conditioning system: the most widespread and common form of A.C., with one unit or interior split (the one you turn on the expels cold air) and a second unit or exterior split (the one outside the house). The advantages that have led this system to dominate the landscape include its power and efficiency in providing both cold and heat. The downside is the installation process. Though it is not complex, it is more complicated than the other options.
- Compact or window air conditioner: this approach incorporates both units in a single structure, usually in a cubic shape (it looks like a giant microwave). Decades ago, this was the most common kind of air conditioner (especially in office buildings). They are extremely easy to install, but they are less efficient than split-system air conditioners.
- Portable air conditioning: small towers on wheels that you can move around the house according to your needs. They are not very efficient and only make sense as a quick solution for cooling down small rooms (preferably 20 square metres or smaller).
You will have to make a choice based on your goals for the air conditioner, which could range from basic (portable) to more advanced (two units), with the compact version as a happy medium.
2. What power do you need?
We should start by clarifying that the energy efficiency of your home plays an important role in this question.
Generally speaking, it is best to estimate a power of 100 BTUs per square metre. We have to convert BTUs to kW, which is the measurement used for electricity. We can do this by multiplying the BTUs by 0.86 and dividing the result by one thousand.
Thus, for 30 square metres, we get 3000 BTUs or 2.58 kW. This would be the power necessary for an A.C. unit intended to cool a large room.
The unit's power is going to end up fattening our bill: the higher the power, the more we end up paying. Therefore, it is important to consider that buying a unit with more power than we need doesn’t mean better climate control in the room, it just means higher costs (both for the unit and, later, for the regular energy bill).
An option that would result in less waste would be to make due with a pleasant temperature, reduce our estimate to 50 BTUs per square metre, and select an inverter system ,which is capable of maintaining a stable temperature while it operates at 40% of maximum performance. This way, we manage to lower our energy bill while also being quite efficient.