Understanding Your Air Conditioner
So many people have them in their homes, but few people truly understand the basics behind their air conditioning units. They know enough to switch them on and set the temperature at the level they desire, but really know little about the parts that make the unit cool their house down. An air conditioner regulates the heat and cold in your house by controlling the humidity and temperature in each room, but do you know how it does this? Whether you are shopping for a new air conditioner or interested in learning about the one you have, the best place to start is with the general terms used to explain the functions of your unit.
BTU: A BTU or British Thermal Unit is the world wide measurement for energy. In layman’s terms it is the amount of heat that is needed to raise a pound of water by one degree of temperature. When you hear someone talk about BTUs in regards to air conditioning they are talking about the amount of heat a unit can remove from a standard sized room. The higher the BTU rating the bigger, more expensive, and heavier the air conditioner is. While many people think that bigger is better, when it comes to air conditioning that is not always the case. It is more important to correctly match the size of a room with the required amount of BTUs. Having too many or too few for the room’s size decreases efficiency and actually hinders the unit from doing its job.
Chassis: The chassis is simply the guts of your air conditioner. It is the frame and working parts exclude from the body of your unit. Smaller units often have a fixed chassis which is easiest to remove for winterizing. Larger units often have a slide out chassis that makes repair work a snap.
EER: The EER is simply calculated by dividing the BTUs into the number of watts. Air conditioners with higher EER numbers should be the most efficient. While a unit with a higher EER number will save you money in the long run, it will cost more to buy. If you don’t live in a really hot area, it might not be worth it to invest in a unit with an EER over 10.
Fan: The fan in an air conditioner works like every other fan you have ever seen. Its sole job is to move the air. When it comes to air conditioners an adjustable thermostat combined with an adjustable speed fan makes the unit very efficient. In an air conditioning unit, you want to look for louvers that not only adjust up and down, but right and left as well.
Filter: Air is surprisingly dirty and a good filter will make a big difference in the quality of the air you breathe. Clean air is also a must if you want to get the most efficient work from your air conditioner. Because clean air is so important to the operation and maintenance of your unit, it is important to change or clean your filters regularly. Because you will be dealing with the filter on a regular basis, it is a good idea to own an air conditioner that has an easily accessible filter.
Thermostat: A thermostat is simply a device used to regulate temperature. Thermostats are heat sensing and therefore able to adjust the output of your air conditioner based on the level of heat in a room. You can get thermostats that are manual or programmable, depending on your needs. If you can get an adjustable thermostat and a variable speed fan, your air conditioning unit will be very efficient.
Once you have a small understanding of how an air conditioning unit not only works, but works most efficiently and effectively, it is a lot easier to find a unit that fits your unique household needs and understand the most efficient ways to run it.
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