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On those hot, muggy summer days, there is nothing better than a cool home. Air conditioners were at one time a luxury and not a standard for many homes. Even people living in the hot Phoenix area during the 1970�s were using what was called �Swamp Coolers�, which consisted of going up on the roof periodically to hose down a cooler that when turned on, would push out semi-cool air at best. Today, most homes have air conditioning of one type of another and even in regions that do not get that hot.

When thinking about buying an air conditioner, you will find that you have many great options. First, the window air conditioner has been around for a long time and since it sits firmly in a window, it is the perfect choice for cooling a specific room or smaller home. This type of air conditioner is very effective and cost efficient. Even the window air conditioner has made great technological advancements.

The way a window unit works is just like your refrigerator in that it has an evaporator coil. This coil cools the interior of the room and then another coil, the condenser coil, is what pushes the hot air to the outside. Then, refrigerant runs through tubes being pushed by a pump. This goes between the evaporator and condenser coil as a way of transferring heat. Finally, an internal fan is used to blow the cold air that has been produced from the refrigerant out into your room.

You will find that window air conditioning units have different BTU�s, which stands for �British Thermal Unit�, an international way of measuring energy. Typically, a window unit will range from 5,000 to 24,000 BTUs with the higher number being designed for a very large room or home. Therefore, you will need to match the BTU to the size of the room / home that will be cooled. Another consideration is the EER, which is the �Energy Efficiency Ratio� and calculated by taking the number of BTU�s and dividing them by the wattage. Window air conditioners with high EER numbers are more efficient than units with low numbers are. Additionally, a higher EER number equates to a more expensive unit. With ratings from 8 to 11.5, you would choose the higher number if you live in hot regions.

Window air conditioners also have thermostats just like central air, which controls the temperature of the air produced. Many window units are programmable although there are still some manual units on the market. The programmable units are nice in that you can set the unit to run at one level during the hot daytime hours and then change when you go to bed to something not quite so intense.

If you want your window unit to run at optimum efficiency, you will need to ensure it has a clean filter. Most of the newer units have filters that can be removed for cleaning or replacement easily, which is a huge bonus for functionality and effort on your part. The fan of your window air conditioner is very important in that this is what moves the air around. The best option is a fan with variable speeds and a louver front so you can adjust the direction of the airflow.

The smaller window air conditioning units have what is called a fixed chassis. This is nice in that during the wintertime, you can remove the unit from the window with ease. The larger units, which typically weigh more, have a slide out chassis in which case the air conditioner simply slides out to be cleaned. Keep in mind that the larger units are generally left in the window during the winter and simply wrapped and sealed so cold outside air cannot seep inside the home.

Now that you know what a window air conditioner is all about, before you head out to shop for one, be sure you take measurements of the room where it will be installed. Additionally, you also need to consider the number of windows in the room, the number of people in the room, for instance if this will go into a family room, there will be more people in and out and therefore, more body heat, ceiling height, and the direction in which the room/windows face. To help you with the decision, the following is a great guide:
  • 100 to 150 Square Feet � 5,000 BTU�s
  • 151 to 250 Square Feet � 6,000 BTU�s
  • 251 to 300 Square Feet � 7,000 BTU�s
  • 301 to 350 Square Feet � 8,000 BTU�s
  • 351 to 400 Square Feet � 9,000 BTU�s
  • 401 to 450 Square Feet � 10,000 BTU�s
  • 451 to 550 Square Feet � 12,000 BTU�s
  • 551 to 700 Square Feet � 14,000 BTU�s
  • 701 to 1,000 Square Feet � 18,000 BTU�s
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