Pretend it’s summer and check out this AC buyers guide

Beyond shopping for sandals, another way we can wish summer into existence is to plan for how we’ll cool our homes when the heat comes.

Key Points

  • Winter is almost over and all I want to think about is summer.  
  • If you’re considering a room air conditioner for the coming heat, make sure to get the right one for the space to avoid wasting energy.
  • Also make sure and use it correctly. Bad installation can be a recipe for an energy wasting disaster.

With the official start of Daylight Savings this week, I’m ready to put winter behind me. Call me optimistic, but I’m hoping that daydreaming of swimming pools and sunscreen while online shopping for flip flops will make the warm season come more quickly.

Beyond shopping for sandals, another way we can wish summer into existence is to plan for how we’ll cool our homes when the heat comes. If you don’t have a central air conditioner in your home, you’ll likely turn to a room AC. Check out these tips from ENERGY STAR before heading to the store:

Size your AC for Comfort and Savings

Bigger is not always better! An oversized unit will cool the room, but only remove some of the humidity. This will leave the room with a damp, clammy feeling. A properly sized unit will deliver maximum comfort and savings. Check out this chart to help determine the best size.

Proper AC Installation and Use is the Key to Cool

An improperly installed room air conditioner leaks as much air as a six-square-inch hole, increasing energy costs and making your home less comfortable. Follow these tips to beat the heat:

  • Be sure to follow the instructions and use the insulation materials included with your room air conditioner.
  • Make sure the unit is level so the drainage system works effectively.
  • Don't put lamps or TVs near the AC thermostat as the extra heat will cause it to run longer.
  • Set the thermostat as high as is comfortable, typically 78° F. You'll appreciate the savings.
  • On humid days, set the fan speed low. Slower air movement removes more moisture.
  • Use an extra fan to spread the cooled air around.
  • At the end of the cooling season, if possible, remove the room AC unit to minimize heat loss. Or use an appropriately-sized cover during winter.

Maybe the energy savings from all those good AC techniques will even help me justify buying a new pair of espadrilles.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A. in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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