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Buying an Air Conditioner

Air conditioners greatly improve the comfort level in a home, especially during scorching summer days. With many options on the market, you can find the right type of air conditioner to suit your needs, and the information below will help you pick one to cool a single room or your entire home. Find out what kind of air conditioner is best for your space before you begin to shop.

Buying an Air Conditioner

Why buy a new air conditioner?

Most new air conditioners are built to run more efficiently than older models. These new units can help you save on your energy bill.

There are many different types of air conditioners available that suit various spaces. A mini-split wall-mounted unit can cool several rooms, or a portable air conditioner is perfect for a small space.

New air conditioners include convenient features. Some units have improved air filtration or alert you when it's time to change the filter, and some have timers so you can schedule when they run.

Features of new air conditioners

Technological features

  • Multiple air conditioner sizes and British Thermal Unit (BTU) ratings fit different spaces and cool them efficiently.
  • Remote control operation for ease of use.
  • Check filter light reminds you when it's time to replace the filter.
  • Central air conditioning connects to your ductwork and circulates cool air throughout the home while expelling warm air outside.
  • New central, window- and wall-mounted air conditioners run more quietly.
  • Mini-split air conditioners can provide cooling power for multiple rooms in the home without requiring ductwork alteration.

Multiple functions

  • Central air conditioners and some window- and wall-mounted units have cooling and heating features so you don't have to buy a separate heating unit.
  • Air conditioners eliminate moisture from the air to prevent mold and mildew growth.
  • Many new units include better filtering to reduce pollen, dust mites and other airborne particles.
  • Portable air conditioners cool small rooms and can also act as dehumidifiers.
AC Unit

Energy efficiency

  • Energy-efficient air conditioners cool the home while using less energy than older air conditioning units.
  • Some units are Energy StarĀ® rated, indicating they meet government standards for energy efficiency.
  • Timers schedule your air conditioner so it runs only when needed.
  • Fan-only operation for use at night or on cooler days saves more energy.

Types of air conditioners

Portable air conditioners

Portable air conditioners are mounted in the window and can cool a single room or the entire floor of a home, depending on the home's layout and the air conditioner's power.

  • Price range: $100-$600
  • Height range: 24-40 inches
  • Width range: 12-25 inches
  • Power range: 8,000-14,000 BTU

Portable air conditioners are best for...

Apartments and other rental spaces: If you rent your home, you may be unable to undertake a major renovation like adding a central air system. A portable air conditioner allows you to cool a rental without damaging or modifying the space.

Allergy sufferers: Mold, mildew and dust mites thrive in overly humid environments. Portable air conditioners help remove moisture from the air, limiting the growth of allergens and relieving allergy woes.

Hot rooms: A portable air conditioner can cool down a single room that has higher temperatures than the rest of the house, like a room that gets a lot of sun or has many running appliances.

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Window Air Conditoner

Window air conditioners

These units are mounted in the window and can cool a single room or the entire floor of a home, depending on the home's layout and the air conditioner's power.

  • Price range: $120-$700
  • Height range: 12-20 inches
  • Width range: 14-26 inches
  • Power range: 5,000-25,000 BTU

Window air conditioners are best for...

Affordable cooling: Window air conditioners are relatively inexpensive to buy, install and maintain. If you want to cool your home while keeping to a budget, a window air conditioner is the best option.

Those who prefer low-maintenance appliances: With other types of air conditioners, you may have to clean ducts or drain water containers. Window air conditioners simply require changing the filter about once a month and sweeping any dirt inside of the unit.

Rental spaces: Because window air conditioners can simply be placed in most windows without modifications to the frame, they're a good option for adding cooling options without modifying rental spaces.

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Wall Air Conditioner

Wall air conditioners

These air conditioners are built into the wall and provide ample cooling power without taking up window space. Some wall-mounted models use a mini-split installation while others are through-the-wall units.

  • Price range: $450-$5,000
  • Height range: 7-24 inches
  • Width range: 24-63 inches
  • Power range: 8,000-40,000 BTU

Wall air conditioners are best for...

Homeowners: Installing a wall air conditioner takes some minor renovation work, like removing part of the wall, cutting out studs and securing brackets to the outside of the home. Since many rentals do not allow these kinds of alterations, these air conditioners are best for those who own their home or apartment.

Older homes: Some older homes would require the addition of significant ductwork to accommodate new central air conditioners. With wall air conditioners using mini-split or through-the-wall installations, no extra ducts are needed.

Maintaining window views: Wall-mounted air conditioners offer an alternative to window models that can block the view and reduce the amount of light coming through a window.

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Bottom Line

Home air conditioners come in a variety of styles and can fulfill practically any cooling need. Consider the size of your home, the area you want to cool and your price range before making a purchase. If you own your home, a wall-mounted air conditioner will save space and cool a large area. Renters may want a portable or window-mounted model depending on their preferences. It's important to choose the right air conditioner for your needs. A model with too little power won't effectively cool a room, and a unit that's over powered compared to its space will waste energy and cost more to run. Choose the right model to find an air conditioner that's truly tailored to your home and stay comfortable during warm weather.