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The Complete A/C Buying Guide

Everything You Need To Know To Buy Air Conditioning

As you lay sprawled out with a fan and a wet towel, you think “I should really get air conditioning”. You just can’t stand how hot your home gets, especially on the upper floors. We hear you. So we’ve prepared for you the complete guide to purchasing an A/C, everything from cost, size, and efficiency.

Step 1. Room Sizing

The first thing you should do is measure the size of the room you want to install your A/C in. Take a measuring tape and measure in feet the length, width, and height of the room.  Then, you’ll want to determine the volume of the room by multiplying those numbers together. For example, if you measure a room to be 13’ x 10’ x 9’, then the volume of the room is 1,170 ft. For whole house cooling, make sure to measure the volume of your entire home.

The reason you want to do this will become clearer in step 3, but the gist of it is this; installing a larger A/C in a small room is both costly and impractical, and installing a smaller or weaker A/C in a larger room results in higher running costs. A/C units typically indicate on their packaging the room size they work best in.

Step 2. Home Insulation

How well your home is insulated will also have an impact on how effective an air conditioner will be. If you don’t already know what it is, then the second thing you should do is determine what type of insulation your home is using.

To do this, you need to locate your attic access, which may look like a small trap door in the ceiling. Using a ladder and wearing both eye and hand protection, carefully open your attic and have a look inside using a flashlight.

It is extremely important to be cautious of any possible exposed wires, overhead objects, and any other obstacles or loose debris, especially if you are not familiar with your attic.

It is recommended that if you are not familiar with your own attic that you have a professional take a look for you. Academy Mechanical can help!

Step 3. A/C Types

Now that you know the size of the room, now it’s onto what type of A/C. There are a number of types, but only one or two types will work in your chosen room.

For smaller rooms with vertically sliding windows, a window A/C works well. For medium to larger sized rooms, portable A/Cs are a good choice. Condensing units are usually installed outside and are used to cool down the entirety of your home.

Something to note is that air conditioners will almost always need connection to a window. The exception to this would be if you have central HVAC, in which case, it should be possible to install wall-mounted A/C units.

This is important, particularly for those who are renters; air conditioning units, especially window mounted units, may require to be screwed in or nailed into place. If you would like to avoid this, always check the unit information to see what type of mounting it uses.

Step 4. Energy Efficiency Guide Label

As a standard, A/C units will have an Energy Guide label. These are either white labels with a bold kilowatt-per-year number, or a yellow label with a bold cost. The white label is for Canada and the yellow label is for the USA.

In Canada’s Energy Guide label, a cost is not shown, but it does state what room volume in feet the unit type has been tested in, which will help you decide whether it will work well in your chosen room.

Step 5. Unit Price vs Running Cost

You will be tempted to just buy the cheapest A/C unit, but you must resist! A cheap A/C unit may not be the best in the long run; it may be of lower durability, cost more to run, or it may not have a good output of cool air. A cheaper unit will often have a higher cost per year to run and a much lower Energy Efficiency Ratio. You will want to strike a balance between how affordable the unit is for you to buy and how efficiently the unit runs.

Really take the time to calculate not just how much a unit costs to buy, but how much it costs to run over the course of a month, or even the whole year.

No matter the type of home, room, insulation, or budget you have, Academy Mechanical can help you find the right A/C for your home. Contact us today to see how we can help you assess your space, find an A/C unit, and install it, from step one to the last step!