Choosing the Right Size Air Conditioner for Your Home
It always seems to be the case that a home appliance goes on the fritz when you need it most. With the recent, record-setting high temperatures, my air conditioner had been running constantly. My sense of impending doom was confirmed when, just as the heat wave hit its sweltering height, the poor old boy could take no more. The compressor was shot, hurling us into a state of hot, sticky, sleep deprived misery.
It’s amazing how a little discomfort can affect family relations. My husband fell into a near catatonic state, I responded with not-so-passive aggression, and the family dog took off for parts unknown, leaving only a “Dear John” note. We needed a new air conditioner, fast, to save the family!
So, after doing some research and choosing a brand, we needed to determine the right size. Air conditioners come in many different sizes, whether window or central. These units should be sized to cool the area of your home you’re trying to cool with the most efficiency. So how do you do that? By measuring the area to be cooled, you’ll have a pretty good idea what size air conditioner is right for you.
To calculate this, just multiply the length times the width of the room or area to be cooled. Then, multiply that total times 25 BTU. This allows appropriate cooling for any hot weather condition. For example, if a room is 14 feet wide by 18 feet long, that calculates to 252 square feet. Take 252 sq. ft. times 25 BTU per square foot and you get the minimum BTU air conditioner you should buy. In this example, 252×25=6300 BTU cooling capacity. If you are buying a central air conditioner and know the square footage of your house, it’s an easy calculation.
Lest you be tempted to buy a smaller air conditioner to save money, consider this. Smaller BTU units will continually run, just trying to keep up. This will increase your electric bill and it is unlikely the unit will be able to cool the area effectively.
Conversely, many think that bigger is better. To dispel that rumor, an air conditioner that is too large will cool more quickly, however that may negate the reason for running it in the first place. Along with cooling the air, your air conditioner is also extracting the humidity from the air that makes us feel hot and sticky. So while the air may be cooler, if the unit doesn’t run long enough, moisture cannot be extracted from the air properly. And, as we have learned, hot and sticky can be a recipe for family disaster.
So, when the time comes to purchase a new air conditioner, remember that too little is not enough and too much of a good thing can be bad.
And as for my story… we purchased the perfect air conditioner, my husband is speaking again, the dog moved back in (with a list of HVAC demands), and the planets are back in alignment. Ahhhh… life is good.