When Air Conditioning Is a Must, Use These Tips

July 11, 2016

With the National Weather Service predicting a hotter than average summer for the Northeast this year, there will likely be a point when your shades and fans aren’t enough to keep your home cool and comfortable. If you don’t have central air conditioning, you might consider putting in a window air conditioner. If you reach that point, the following tips for selecting and installing your air conditioner will help keep your home cool—and help you save energy—as the weather heats up.

  1. Choose an AC unit that matches the size of your room.
    With room ACs, bigger isn’t always better. Oversized units sometimes have trouble removing humidity, leaving your space clammy and uncomfortable. To find an AC unit appropriately sized to cool your space, first determine the size of the room, then match that size to the unit’s cooling capacity. Often, you can find the recommended room size on the AC’s packaging. Alternatively, you can look up the recommended cooling capacity, measured in BTUs per hour, for your room size. The BTUs per hour will be prominently listed on the packaging. The Buying Guidance tab on energystar.gov/roomac includes a table to help you match your room size to the optimal BTUs per hour.

  2. Look for the ENERGY STAR®.
    ENERGY STAR certified room AC units are 10% more energy efficient than units meeting federal standards. These ACs are third-party certified to save energy, include high-quality sealing materials to improve insulation around the unit, and come with clear instructions. Want even more energy savings? Look for units with a high Combined Energy Efficiency Ratio (CEER): the higher the CEER, the more energy-efficient the unit. You can look up the CEER for any ENERGY STAR certified room AC unit at energystar.gov.

  3. Consider a WiFi enabled unit.
    AC units with WiFi connected functionality can be controlled remotely, meaning you can turn them on or off from your phone or computer. If you forget to turn the AC off before leaving the house, you can turn it off with your phone. If you’re on your way home, you can turn the unit on to start cooling gradually before you arrive (rather than blasting it to cool things down after you get in the front door). You can even program WiFi enabled units to fit your schedule. Additionally, AC units with such functionality can provide feedback on their energy use, helping you determine adjustments that save more energy.

  4. Make sure your AC unit is installed snuggly.
    When you install your room AC, use the side panels or other secure materials to make sure the unit fits tightly into the window opening. Just as heat can escape out of a drafty window in winter, cool air can escape in summer. Tightly sealing the area around the AC unit will help prevent the cool air from escaping outside and enable the unit to work more efficiently.

If you’re looking for a new room air conditioner, visit Mass Save’s room air conditioner page to learn how to get a $40 instant rebate on ENERGY STAR certified units.

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