1. Does your building have rules and restrictions?
Before you begin shopping you must first find out if your building has rules or restrictions concerning air conditioners. Some apartment complexes or condo towers forbid the use of exterior air conditioners either to reduce noise pollution or for aesthetic reasons. Be aware of your real estate situation before making a quick purchase.
2. Owner or tenant, is there a difference?
When buying an air conditioner, whether you are renting an apartment or you own your home, there are options to consider. A tenant may opt for a portable window unit that they can easily take with them when they move whereas an owner may choose to invest in a wall mounted unit or a more permanent central air conditioning system.
3. What’s the area that you wish to cover?
Did you know that the bigger the room you wish to cool is, the more powerful your air conditioner needs to be? This force is expressed in Btu/h (British thermal units per hour) and measures the speed at which a room is cooled. Before selecting your air conditioner, you need to decide if you wish to control the temperature in your entire home or if there are rooms in particular that you’d rather keep cool. The number of Btu must therefore be taken into account. It should be noted that the kitchen, the room that produces the most heat in your home, requires an air conditioner that produces at least 4000 Btu/h.
4. Have you considered sunshine intensity and the orientation of your windows?
In addition to the size of your room, there are other factors that may influence the type and strength of air conditioner you will need. If certain rooms are poorly insulated, you may want to consider an air conditioner that’s about 15% more powerful. If the rooms you’ve chosen to air condition are facing the sun (western or southwest-facing), there’s a risk that they will heat up more quickly. In this case it’s best to choose a higher Btu/h or keep the room darkened with opaque, light-cutting curtains. Indeed, the orientation of your windows counts for more than you might think and it’s because of this that Natural Resources Canada recommends installing a wall mounted conditioner on a shaded, north-facing wall. Note that for a heat pump, a south-facing surface is preferred by owners, especially for maximum heat in winter.
5. Have you evaluated the use you will make of your air conditioner?
Another important aspect that will help determine your choice: how you will use your air conditioner. Do you think you’ll use it only at night? If this is the case you may want to reduce the Btu/h force of your machine by 30% depending on the square footage of the room in question: a significant difference when compared to an air conditioner in constant use. Obviously the operational costs will be relative as well. On those extra hot days you will need more energy (Btu/h) to cool your home.
Determining how you will use your air conditioner will help you chose the machine that will best suit your needs during the summer season. You will also be able to make your decision more quickly. Money well invested!
Let’s review the different types of air conditioners that are on the market
1. Portable air conditioner
The least efficient type available, this air conditioner is appreciated however for its portability and its relatively quiet operation. It can be installed in smaller spaces, near a window, and helps cool the close surrounding space by a few degrees. This model requires a hose to vent heat to the outside.
2. Window unit
Requiring very little maintenance, this unit can easily be installed in a sliding window. Developed to cool the room it’s in, rather than the entire home, this unit is installed during the summer season and stored for the rest of the year. Certain models are noisier than others, but if you invest in a higher end model, the noise levels will be considerably lower.
3. Wall-mounted unit
To cool your entire home, a wall-mounted air conditioner is your best bet, economically speaking. Increasingly popular on the market because it doesn’t require any ventilation ducts, this type of air conditioner is perfect for smaller homes and condos.
4. Central air conditioning
This is the ultimate air conditioner used to cool or dehumidify your home during the summer season! Central air conditioning is best used in homes with forced-air central heating systems or those with a heat pump: the latter offering both cooling and heating. Extremely effective in cooling bigger spaces, both are silent and allow for significant energy savings.
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