Rarely do you think about air conditioning in January, when you only want your rooms to be warm and toasty, but the truth is that the dead of winter is a great time to start planning for summer A/C. Sooner than you know it, the heat will be punishing, and you’ll wish you had researched the most efficient air conditioners and made an informed choice for your space.
If you want to stay ahead of the seasons, read on for some tips and tricks for choosing the right A/C to keep your room cool efficiently and effectively.
Consider Your Room’s Size
Just as a twin comforter won’t keep the entirety of your king-sized bed warm and cozy, an air conditioner that is too small won’t efficiently cool your room. Conversely, you don’t want to buy an A/C unit that is too large, as doing so will force it to run inefficiently, drastically increasing your energy bill and putting undue stress on the A/C’s systems. If you are considering purchasing window, wall-mounted or portable air conditioners, a rule of thumb states that you need 20 BTUs for each square foot of living space — so a 300-square-foot room will need a 6,000 BTU unit. Large, open-concept spaces aren’t efficiently cooled by a single unit —you should be willing to outfit your home with an entire HVAC system or else a unit for each enclosed space. In this case, you still want to find the Goldilocks A/C, but you are working with your entire home’s square footage as opposed to just one room.
Consider Your Room’s Features
There are a few features that affect the rule of thumb estimation for the size of A/C unit necessary to cool a room. These include:
- Heavy shade. If your room lacks windows or never receives direct sunlight, reduce the estimate by 10 percent.
- Direct sun. Consistent, bright light will heat up your room more than average, so you should increase your estimate by 10 percent if your room gets direct sun.
- High occupancy. People and pets produce body heat, which will increase the temperature of a room. If two or more people are consistently in the space, add 600 BTU per person.
- Kitchen appliances. Ovens, stovetops, hotplates, electric kettles and other head-producing appliances should increase your capacity by at least 4,000 BTU.
There are a few more concerns to add should you consider installing an HVAC system to your home. Specifically:
- Climate zone. Generally, inhabitants of cooler parts of the world need to worry less about air conditioning than people living in hot climates. If your summers see triple digits, you might need a more robust unit.
- Attic space. These days, homes are built with HVACs in mind, so there is attic space where builders can run ductwork to deliver cool air to every corner of the home. If your house has high ceilings or attics, you can hide your ductwork; otherwise, you might need to redesign with an industrial feel or else skip the HVAC and install multiple smaller units.
- Windows. Shade and sunlight affect house-wide A/C, too, but you should also consider the ordinal position of your windows as well as their style. Large, west- and north-facing windows will keep your home hotter than windows looking to the east or south.
Finally, you need to think about the organization of your room, so you don’t install your A/C unit in a space that interrupts the flow of traffic or the balance of furniture. Often, it is wise to install wall-mounted units high up, so they don’t take the space of furniture or artwork. Because you can control new units with a remote control, placing them out of reach shouldn’t be a concern. Window and portable units should have the same considerations; you don’t want the unit to block a gorgeous view or become a trip hazard, so place them appropriately.
Consider Your Budget
Finally, it should go without saying that larger units are going to be more expensive than smaller units, and A/Cs with more features — like smart connectivity or sleek design — will also cost more. It might not be cost-efficient for you to purchase an air conditioner for every room of your home, especially if many rooms go all but unvisited during the warmer months. Instead, you might cool the central rooms or main bedrooms and leave the other spaces closed off until temperatures become mild.
Even as you bundle up against the January chill, you should think ahead to cooling your home for the summer. Using these tips, you can energy- and cost-efficiently keep your living spaces comfortable year-round.