Choosing an AC unit in Birmingham, Alabama, can be tricky, as you need a system that’s powerful enough to combat the area’s high summer temperatures. Otherwise, you face a lukewarm home that’s inhospitable and utility bills that are too high on a monthly basis. Improve your home’s efficiency and comfort by using this guide to assist you when choosing your new air conditioner.
Type of Unit
The first decision you’ll need to make is what kind of unit you’d like. There are five main types of air conditioners on the market today. These include:
- Portable air conditioner, which you can roll from room to room depending on what areas you’d like to cool. These are great if you’d like flexibility with your cooling, but be aware they do take up a lot of space. Generally, they can cool a room between 150 to 500 square feet, depending on the size and specifications of the unit.
- Window-mounted air conditioner, which sits inside your window frame during the summer months. These are the most popular kind of AC and are also the cheapest to run. Generally, they cool between 100 and 900 square feet of space.
- Wall-mounted air conditioner, which is attached to your wall with a metal sleeve. These are a great alternative to window units because they don’t block light, and they’re easy to store year-round. These can cool a room between 400 and 1,000 square feet.
- Central air conditioner, which delivers cooling throughout your home through ductwork and has an outdoor unit. Central air is a sensible choice for homes with existing ductwork, and the main advantage is that you can keep the entire house cool.
- Split ductless air conditioner, which enables you to cool multiple areas at once. These units are more expensive, but they are a permanent cooling solution and are great for homes that do not have ductwork.
Prices for these units vary, with portable units coming in between $700 and $1,000, window units costing $200 to $800, wall units costing $400 to $700, and split ductless systems costing over $1,000 or considerably more, depending on how many units are needed. Central air conditioning can cost between $3,500 and $4,000 to install in a 2,000-square-foot home with existing ductwork.
Size of Home
You might only be able to decide on the best type of air conditioner after you calculate just how much space you need to cool. Complete this task by measuring how many British Thermal Units (BTUs) you’ll need, which is the cooling capacity of an air conditioner. Ordinary air conditioners fall somewhere between 4,000 to 20,000 BTU.
Begin by measuring the length and width of your room, and then multiply these measurements together. This will give you the area of your room, which you can then use to see the BTU rating that’s appropriate. For example, a 150-square-foot room will need 5,000 BTU, while a 700-square-foot room will need 14,000 BTU. Have a massive 2,700-square-foot room? Nothing less than 36,000 BTU will suffice.
Don’t just buy a unit with as many BTU as possible, as this will cost more to operate, and you won’t see any noticeable benefits. In fact, it might even leave your air feeling humid, as it won’t have to run as often.
Obviously, you want an air conditioning unit that’s efficient, as this will save you money and reduce your impact on the environment. Manufacturers are now required to rate each unit’s efficiency with an energy efficiency ratio (EER). This yellow sticker is on the back of every air conditioner. Look for stickers with a higher number, as this means the unit is more efficient.
For the best value, find a unit that has the federal EnergyStar label, as this means it meets federal efficiency standards.
Once you find the type, size, and energy efficiency you want, there’s no harm in seeking out a few extra bonus features in your new AC unit. Here are some of the modern amenities you might benefit from:
- Sleep mode that shuts the unit off at night.
- Timer that turns the unit on to prepare for your arrival home.
- A warranty from the manufacturer.
- Directional airflow vents to push air directly where you want.
- Dehumidifier mode to remove moisture from the air.
When you finally do choose your new AC unit, our HVAC pros will be happy to install it. We provide a free quote before every install so you know exactly how much you’ll pay. Call Total Comfort Heating and Air today at (205) 386-2056 to get started.
Image provided by Shutterstock