With the summer months being upon us and knowing your home is likely to heat up soon, you might be looking at getting a new air conditioner for your residence. However, simply looking through the seemingly endless number of options might cause you to break out in a sweat. After all, how do you figure out which air conditioner you should be purchasing and how it can impact your cooling bills? If you live in an apartment, you might even have to worry about whether or not your building allows window units. No need to worry: we have done all of the research you need to make a good decision.
The crucial component of getting the right system to provide a balance of comfort and savings is to find the optimal unit for your space. Getting an air conditioning system that doesn’t have sufficient power is likely to cause you to have ineffective cooling and it can end up causing your cooling bill to skyrocket as a direct result. Whereas, if you buy one that is too powerful for your space, it can cool off your space far too quickly which can result in a clammy atmosphere. Likewise, having to constantly cycle your unit on and off can end up causing the system to get stressed and even to fail prematurely.
The energy efficiency you are able to get from the system is another major consideration. The energy efficiency ratio (EER) that you get from the system is ultimately the measure of how effective the cooling system is capable of operating when the outside temperature is at 95 degrees. Ideally, you want to find a system that features an Energy Star label which indicates that it has passed the efficiency standards set forth by the government. However, it’s important to remember that no matter how efficient the system is, you are not going to be as comfortable as you can be nor will you extract the most value out of your system if your home doesn’t have the proper sealing and insulation.
Keeping this in mind, below you will find various guidelines that can help you navigate through the market to find the ideal air conditioner for your home.
A central air conditioning system is by far the most popular kind of cooling system you will find in the United States. A whopping 75% of all households have this type of cooling system according to the United States Energy Information Administration.
That being said, properties in New York are some of the major outliers in this. The main reason has to do with the average age of the buildings in New York being significantly higher according to the Department Of Buildings with over 3/4 of them being constructed prior to 1960. Retrofitting apartments that are older with this type of cooling system require a lot of expensive legwork including installing a condenser on the outside of the home, installing a fan and coil system inside, and installing ducts to facilitate air distribution throughout the place. All of these things are not cheap and it all requires space which is a lacking resource among apartments found in the city.
Even if you are one of those willing and able to give up your valuable closet space to install this type of system in your apartment, the building where you rent or own an apartment might not allow you to place a condenser on the roof for its installation. Likewise, retrofitting an apartment that is built without the necessary ductwork can get exorbitantly expensive. In the ideal scenario where you can avoid having to run a pipe through your neighbor’s kitchen ceiling to reach the compressor, installing an entire home system is likely to cost anywhere from $2,650 to nearly $15,000 according to a site that tracks home improvement costs TrustedPros.ca.
Another thing you have to consider is the fact that you will lack individual room temperature control which can cause you to cool the home very inefficiently. That being said, it does come with the added benefit of being a system that is almost entirely hidden and out of the way.
If you do decide that this type of system is right for you, it would be wise to check out the Consumer Reports Central Air Conditioning Buying Guide to find the most reliable brands and to find the system that has the right Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio for your place.
You need to hire a professional installer who is going to be able to help you come up with a professional recommendation on where to locate the ductwork and how to insulate it for maximum efficiency. Likewise, you need to budget for having a professional to come to maintain the system for you to keep it functioning optimally.
DUCTLESS MINI-SPLIT AIR CONDITIONER
If a central air system isn’t an option for you, a ductless mini-split system is likely to be your best available alternative. This type of system can be mounted conveniently on a wall and operated remotely through a controller. These systems do happen to require an outdoor compressor to function, but there is no space-eating ductwork involved. The refrigerant is circulated through the tubing that connects to both the outdoor and indoor units.
While it certainly isn’t as unnoticeable as central air systems, this type of system is very efficient. The main reason being that you can control each unit individually. These systems are also fully capable of providing heating elements. The total cost of outfitting a 2,000 square foot home with this type of system is likely to range anywhere from $1,800 to $7,000 according to TrustedPros.ca. Ultimately, you will end up spending on the higher end of the spectrum the more walls you need to cover.
This is the most inexpensive and perhaps the easiest to install. Window units are some of the most popular options for those looking for individual room cooling. The starting prices that you can expect to pay for smaller units that are capable of cooling 150-square feet is around $129. Whereas, the larger units that are capable of cooling around 1,600 square feet are around $599 according to Lowe’s.
In order to determine the size you need, you should look to measure the room that needs cooling and calculate its cooling capacity which is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs).
Always consider the level of sun exposure the room is getting and consider how the room is being used because it can impact overall cooling capacity. For instance, if more than one person is regularly using the room, you should add 600 BTUs for each person. Likewise, if the unit is being placed in the kitchen, you should increase the recommended capacity by 4,000 BTUs.