Your Complete Guide To Air Conditioners

Energy efficient air conditioners

The perfect air conditioner for your house will minimize your energy bills in addition to keeping your home comfortably cool during the summer.

When you are searching for a new cooling system, one of the main things you need to ask yourself is whether you need to have air conditioning for just one room or the entire house.  Answering this question will help you determine what type of air conditioning that you need in your home.

To help you with selecting the best air conditioner for your home in Edmonton, we have compiled a list for you of the various kinds of air conditioners, in addition to their pros and cons.

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Air Conditioner Types

The bright sun and high air temperatures combine to create a very hot and uncomfortable environment.  An air conditioner will lower the humidity level and air temperature to make your house more comfortable and cooler.

An air conditioner works the same way that a refrigerator does.  They both remove heat from the interior of your house and transfer it outdoors.

When it comes to air conditioners, there are two main types: central air conditioners and room air conditioners.

Room Air Conditioners

A room air conditioner, as the name suggest, cools one room or a small area of a house or building.  It requires no ductwork for distributing cool air, and it runs on electricity.  A room air conditioner’s cooling components are in one package, unlike a central air conditioner.  In addition, they are easier to install and less expensive to buy than central air conditioning systems.  Overall a room air condition is more cost-effective.

There are three basic types of room air conditioners:

Window Mounted Air Conditioners.  These can effectively cool rooms that are from 300 to 1,800 square feet in size.  When mounted, half of it is inside the room and the other half is on the outside of the window.  The open space that is in between the window and air conditioner is covered by plexiglass (an acrylic sheet used instead of glass).  A window mounted air conditioner is inexpensive, easy to install and works with your home’s existing electrical wiring.  At the end of summer, it is also easy to pack your window-mounted air conditioner and store it.

Through-the-Wall.  Since it permanently installed in the wall, sealing around the unit is a good idea to save on energy costs.  The seal will help to prevent cool air from leaking to the outside.  Although they are more attractive than a window unit, as well as being easier to replace and repair, installation can be expensive.

Portable air conditioner.  This type of unit can cool a 300 to 400 square foot room effectively while moving from one room to another.  However, they can be noisy, use more electricity and are expensive.

Central Air Conditioners

The ductwork in your home’s heating system is used by a central air conditioner to cool down your whole house. Cool air comes into the house via registers and supply ducts.

A room air conditioner will only cost a couple hundred dollars.  However, having a central cooling system installed will cost from $4,000 up to $10,000, which will depend on whether it is necessary for you to install ductwork and a forced-air furnace.  However, after a central air conditioner has been installed, it is more quiet and effective, and essentially trouble free.

There are two types of central air conditioner systems: packaged units or split-system units.

Split-System.  With this type of system, a metal cabinet housing a condenser and compressor is installed on the outside of your house.  There is also an indoor cabinet containing an evaporator as well as a furnace.  The evaporator coil gets installed in the furnace.

Packaged.  The packaged central air conditioner’s evaporator, condenser, and compressor are all inside one unit.  Usually, it is installed on a concrete slab next to the foundation of your house, or it is on the roof.  Frequently, a natural gas furnace comes with a packaged air conditioner.  Indoor warm air flows through the exterior wall or roof of your house and connects with your packaged air conditioner, which supplies your home with cool air.

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Energy Efficient Air Conditioners

You can determine the energy efficiency of both a central air and room air conditioner via their seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER).  SEER is the ratio of the power output (measured in watts) to the cooling capacity (which is measured in BTUs).  An air conditioner that is more energy efficient will have a higher SEER rating.

A central air conditioner must have a 13 SEER or higher to be labeled Energy Star.  A room air conditioner must have a 10.7 to 10.8 on models having less than 20,000 BTU per hour.  So a room air conditioner is not as efficient a central air conditioner.

The purpose of a room air conditioner is to cool one room, and not the whole house.  Since a room a/c provides cooling on demand, it is less expensive to operate compared to a central air conditioner, even when their efficient level is not as higher as a central air conditioner.

Central Air Units Versus Room Air Conditioners

Obviously choosing between a central air conditioner and room air conditioner will depend on the area needing to be cooled.  However, there are some things you will need to consider in some circumstances:

– If you rent your house and are planning to move into a house of your own in the future, it doesn’t make sense to invest into a central air conditioner.  You can take a room air conditioner with you when you move and reinstall it into your new house.

– If there is a central air duct system in your house already, then a central conditioner is a great choice.

Deciding on which kind of central air conditioner or room air conditioner you should choose can be more challenging.

Room Air Conditioners

– If you are living in an apartment or have another small area to cool, then a window-mounted air conditioner can save money.  However, this kind of air conditioner covers part of the window and can be noisy.

– Wall mounted air conditioners are quieter but more expensive than a window-mounted one.

– Portable air conditioners are not as efficient as wall-mounted and window units.  They are also more expensive to operate and buy.  If you desire to move an air conditioner from one room to another, then it may be a practical choice.

Central Air Conditioners

-If your house has a furnace already, then the most economical type of central cooling system that can be installed is a split-system central air conditioner.

– A packaged central air conditioner also works as the central heater, so you won’t need to have a separate indoor furnace.

How to Choose the Best Air Conditioner

No matter which kind of air conditioner (central or room) that you decide on, you need to consider the technical aspects in order to ensure you are making the best choice.

Power.  A smaller unit that runs longer on a continuous basis will be more efficient than a unit that stops and starts frequently.  A unit that has a longer operating cycle results in lower humidity levels, which will provide your house with better indoor air quality and make it more comfortable.

Energy Efficiency And Consumption.  Always check the Energy Guide Label (which displays the unit’s SEER).  The higher the SEER, the more money you will save in energy costs.  When choosing between models having the same features, this is important.

Noise level.  All air conditioners display a noise rating.  An 80-decibel noise level is manageable.  When the level is over 89, you may find yourself running into problems with the law and your neighbors.


The perfect air conditioner for your house will minimize your energy bills in addition to keeping your home comfortably cool during the summer.

You can choose either a central air conditioner or room air conditioner for your house.  A room air conditioner will cool one room in your house and can be either wall mounted or a window unit.  In addition, it can be portable and be transferred from room to room.  A central air conditioner can cool the whole house via the heating system’s ductwork.

The main thing you need to consider when choosing either a central air conditioner or room air conditioner is the size of the area that needs to be cooled.  A room air conditioner is not as energy efficient as a central air conditioner, but they cool on demand, which makes them less expensive to operate.

You need to compare air conditioners having similar features on the basis of noise level, energy efficiency and power to make the best choice for your house.

About Dwight Gropper

Dwight Gropper is the President of Air Conditioning Edmonton, which specializes in heating, air conditioning and plumbing installation and repair services. For same day 24/7 service, call 780-800-7010.