Thinking about buying a room air conditioner? Wondering how they work and how to shop for one?

Here's some basic information and some buying advice from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

We know: All About Room Air Conditioners

What's a room air conditioner?

Air conditioners are generally divided into two categories. Central air conditioners cool the entire house through a system of vents. Room air conditioners cool only a limited area such as a room, and usually are fitted into a window.

Where do I put a room air conditioner?

Most room air conditioners are designed to fit into double hung windows, but you can also find models that will fit into sliding and casement windows, and models that are suitable for in-wall installation.

How important is the size?

Very. If your unit is too small, it wonít cool the room. If itís too large, the unit will turn it self on and off too frequently and the room wonít remain at a comfortable temperature.

How do I choose a size?

Air conditioner sizes are measured in BTUs (British thermal units). In general, you can use this rule of thumb:

Room SizeBTUs
100-200 sq. ft. 5-6,000 BTU/hour
250-550 sq. ft.7-8,000 BTU/hour
350-950 sq. ft.9,800-12,5000 BTU/hour

Does it matter if I have a lot of windows in my room?

Yes, and it matters what direction the room faces. Remember, if the room you want to cool is sunny and has lots of windows, you'll need more cooling power from your air conditioner.

How do I buy an energy efficient room air conditioner so I can save on my fuel bills and help preserve the environment?

The government rates air conditioners for their energy efficiency. By looking for air conditioner models that include an EnergyStar label, you can be assured that the produce is at least 10% more energy efficient than the minimum federal government standards.

In some states, you can receive a rebate for buying an EnergyStar air conditioner.

Who sells room air conditioners?

You can buy room air conditioners at stores like Home Depot, Sears and Lowe's. Brand names include Maytag, Goldstar, Whirlpool, Kenmore, Carrier, Fedders, GE, and Haier.

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