Tips & Tricks

Stay Cool: Your Guide to Choosing the Best Air Conditioner

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As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, there are a few things you can count on: cravings for popsicles, the smell of barbecues flooding your neighborhood, and sweltering heat that makes staying inside unbearable. So you can count on yourself to break: you’ll stock your freezer with popsicles, accept invitations to every barbecue on the block, and at some point, you’ll buy an air conditioner. 

In theory, any kind of air conditioner is fine. They all do the same thing, right? Well, not really. Knowing the kind of air conditioner you need means you need to think about your space, your budget, and possibly even your lease requirements. So before you hit the store in a sweaty rage and dedicate your paycheck to an air conditioner that won’t work for you, here are a few questions to ask yourself about air conditioning:

First Things First: Does Central Air Conditioning Make Sense for You?

If you find your home too hot to bear more often in the summer than not, you may want to consider installing central air conditioning. While it is expensive – often starting at $5,000 just to buy and install the central air conditioning units – it may save you money down the line in terms of efficiency, especially if you’re in a larger space that would require several portable or window air conditioners. It’s also a near-necessity if you live in a particularly warm area, like a sunny city or somewhere in the American south.

On the other hand, if you live in a small space, central air conditioning usually isn’t the right fit. The initial setup and equipment cost is far larger than what you’ll pay over the years for multiple air conditioner units for your home, and while it may seem enticing to have something that’s easier, there are also repair and energy costs to consider. But if your heart is sold on having central air conditioning, get a quote from a professional before committing – that alone might convince you that smaller units are the way to go. 

What Other Factors Will Influence the Room Temperature?

Source: Consumer Reports

When choosing the best air conditioner, it’s important to think about cooling your space as a multi-step project rather than a one-step fix. The first part of this is deciding exactly what you’re cooling: just one bedroom, or an open-concept living, dining, and kitchen area? Larger areas will require air conditioners with more output, and may benefit from an additional fan to assist with circulation. In some particularly large spaces, it might make more sense to buy two or more smaller window or portable air conditioners to ensure the entire space is cooled equally, not just one section.

Additionally, you’ll need to consider a few more factors about the room’s average temperature: is it upstairs or downstairs? Does it get lots of direct sunlight? Are the curtains usually left open? How many people are usually in the room at one time? These will help you determine where your air conditioner units should go, and what level of output you’ll need from them.

How Much Will Energy Efficiency Affect the Total Cost?

In some places, it is easy being green – mostly because electricity is expensive. While energy efficient air conditioners may seem more expensive upfront, they’re often less expensive in the long run, especially if your city has expensive electric rates. If you’re new to town, or just moved to your new city alone, it’s worth asking around to hear about the local opinions on air conditioning. Take Seattle, Washington, for example: it’s one of the least air conditioned cities in the country despite its warm summers, in large part due to high electric costs. If electric costs are a concern for you, it’s worth it to opt for an energy-efficient air conditioner.

What Kind of AC is Best? Portable vs. Window Air Conditioners

While both portable and window air conditioners are technically mobile, that’s about all the similarity these two air conditioners share. There are some key differences to consider when deciding between portable versus window air conditioners:

  • Space. If you’re considering a window air conditioner, check your windows first – not all styles are suited to window air conditioning units. And if you’re a renter, check your lease before installing a window air conditioning unit, as some leases specifically disallow them for aesthetic or energy efficiency purposes.
  • Noise. Believe it or not, window air conditioners are much quieter than portable air conditioners, in part because the window units filter the noise outside. If you love white noise, portable air conditioners are great, but if quietude makes a space homey for you, a window air conditioner is probably the way to go.
  • Energy efficiency. Despite portable air conditioners having a great reputation for energy efficiency, they’re often found to be less energy efficient than their window counterparts. Keep this in mind if you’ve decided energy efficiency is a priority.
  • Cooling space. Window air conditioners work best in small, modular spaces, making them ideal for studio apartments, where only one room needs to be cooled. Portable air conditioners, however, are intended to cool a much larger space, and can be rolled from one room to another based on need, making them far more suited to multi-room units and single-story homes.
  • Cost. While this always should be cross-referenced with energy efficiency, window air conditioners are far cheaper than portable air conditioner units, especially when you consider efficiency of cooling. When cost is your most important factor, window air conditioner units are the way to go.

How Will You Transport Your Air Conditioner?

It’s one thing to get to the store and say, “I’d like this eighty pound air conditioner, please!” It’s another thing to bring it home, set it up, and bring it back and forth to storage in colder months. Before opting for a huge, heavy air conditioner, ask yourself if you’ll realistically be able to manage its size and weight. If you know you need a large unit, but don’t know how to handle its size, call on Dolly for help. Dolly Helpers can take care of bringing your new air conditioner home from the store, bringing it to storage in the colder months, and bringing it back out of storage when the weather gets warm again, taking care of all the heavy lifting. Dolly can make moving your air conditioner a breeze, pun intended.

When Will You Buy Your Air Conditioner?

One last – but not least – important factor is deciding when to buy your air conditioner. Waiting until the last minute can leave you with few options, or in some cases, no options, which can make your life way more difficult during the hottest weekend of the year. When it comes to buying your air conditioner, earliest is best, so buying in springtime will give you the most selection (and when it’s early in season, oftentimes a discount!).

But if it’s too late to buy early, and the stores have already been picked over, you still have a chance. Many stores, like Lowe’s and Home Depot, receive multiple shipments of air conditioners – and will know about them in advance. The salespeople will happily tell you when the next shipment is coming in so you can be first in line for the next batch of air conditioners.

No matter the size of your budget or your space, the right air conditioner should keep your family cool and comfortable all summer long. So why not eliminate some of the stress by using Dolly to bring home your air conditioner? We’ll take care of picking up, lifting, and bringing home your air conditioner so you can enjoy a nice, cool drink of lemonade. Count on Dolly to make bringing home your air conditioner a little easier, and a little bit cooler.

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