An air conditioner can be a wonderfully convenient and cost-effective way to ensure the comfort of your home throughout the year.
However, many homeowners don’t realize how critical it is to get the right size air conditioner. Whether the unit is too big or too small for your home, it can spell trouble.
When an air conditioner is just too large for your home, it cannot operate optimally. Of course, you’ll spend more money up front to buy that model, but the money waste doesn’t end there. A big air conditioner uses more energy, so your bills are definitely going up. Plus, an oversized AC unit may too frequently cycle on and off, and it will fail when it comes to removing an appropriate amount of humidity from the air. This could give your indoor air a cool, clammy effect that is anything but comfortable.
Unfortunately, it’s just as troublesome to miscalculate and get an air conditioner that is too small. You may have saved money up front, but that appliance will have to run non-stop trying to cool your home. It won’t be able to keep up, which means that you will ultimately be dissatisfied with your purchase.
Getting an air conditioning unit that is perfectly sized for your home doesn’t have to be a mysterious process. You just have to keep some guidelines in mind.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Air Conditioner Size
Several features about your home will affect the size of the air conditioning unit it requires. It’s important to consider how much sun exposure or shade your home receives as well as how many occupants live in the home.
Also keep in mind these factors:
- Your home’s square footage
- How many windows you have and how large they are
- How many appliances in the home regularly generate heat
- How old your home’s ductwork is and what state of repair it’s in
- The local climate
When a contractor who installs air conditioning units is working on one of these jobs, he uses advanced methods to precisely calculate the necessary tonnage of the air conditioner.
However, you don’t necessarily have to understand these complex calculations in order to choose an AC unit for your home.
How to Get an Educated Estimate for AC Tonnage
When we talk about tonnage in relation to air conditioning, we’re referring to the unit’s ability to cool a space. Each ton refers to the air conditioner’s ability to cool 12,000 BTUs per hour.
A basic equation may be used to calculate how powerful your air conditioner should be. Here’s what it looks like:
((Square footage of the house multiplied by 30, divided by 12,000)-1.0) = Necessary tonnage
Accordingly, if your home is 1,600 square feet, your calculation would look like:
(1,600 X 30 / 12,000)-1.0 = 3 tons
This means that your home needs a three-ton air conditioner.
What if you live in a place where it’s really hot and dry? Then, you would perform the same calculation, but leave out subtracting the one.
For the above example, that would mean that your calculation would look like:
1,600 X 30 / 12,000 = 4 tons
Unsurprisingly, this will mean that you need a more powerful air conditioner if you live in a place that has hot, dry summers.
What If You Don’t Want to Do Any Calculations?
If you are feeling math-averse, then you can always rely on the online BTU Calculator.
All you need to use it is some basic information such as:
- Total square footage
- Ceiling height
- Number of occupants
- Condition of insulation
- Sun exposure
Plug in your data, and the BTU Calculator does all of the hard work for you.
Rely on Professional Calculations
If even the thought of trying to figure out your home’s square footage and ceiling height seems like too much effort to you or if you are concerned about not getting the data precisely right, then it might be wise to have a professional do the calculations for you.
The first step toward doing this is to check with your utility company. Ask them if they perform free energy audits, as this will generate a Manual J Calculation.
A Manual J Calculation typically is performed by a professional because it is complex. Through this calculation, the HVAC technician is able to figure out how much hot air actually comes through the home’s exterior walls during the hottest months of the year.
What makes this calculation so much more accurate than any other option is that it takes all possible factors into account. It is an incredibly detailed equation that considers the thermal characteristics of each of your home’s components, including things like ceilings, floors, windows, doors and walls.
Moreover, this complicated calculation involves factors such as the zone in which your home is located, where your home is placed with reference to the position of the sun during the hottest months, lighting, ductwork, appliances and how many people occupy the residence.
This sounds like it would require a great deal of time and research, but technology has really simplified the process. Software can be used to streamline everything, and the HVAC technician can get much of the required information from local building code guidelines and property tax records.
With so much data going into the calculation, it is no wonder that this is by far the most accurate way to determine just how big your air conditioning unit needs to be. The result is that you are able to buy an air conditioner that is precisely the right size for your home. This means no wasted money up front with the purchase of the unit and more reasonable energy bills for years down the road.
Wall Mounted or Window Mounted Air Conditioner?
While size is perhaps the most critical consideration when it comes to getting the right air conditioner for your home, it also is worthwhile to give some thought to whether a built-in, wall-mounted air conditioner is better for your home than a window-mounted unit.
In general, wall-mounted air conditioners are far more efficient, and this means that they do a better job of cooling your home. Much of this advantage comes from the wall-mounted air conditioner being placed about five or six feet above the floor. Window air conditioners tend to be mounted lower, but a wall unit that is mounted higher does a better job of circulating air through the room.
Wall-mounted air conditioners can still be removed for cleaning or at the end of the season. A winter cap is placed in the opening to seal your home until it is time to put the air conditioner back in the summer.
Ask a Pro at Delaware Heating and Cooling
If you want to keep your home cool but also are concerned about energy efficiency and your utility bills, then it’s critical that you work with an HVAC professional to determine what size air conditioner you need.
An oversized unit won’t necessarily keep your home cooler, and you’re likely to experience some uncomfortable clamminess. Additionally, that big air conditioner is going to significantly increase your energy bills without giving you enough return on your investment.
It’s just as inconvenient and wasteful to get an air conditioner that’s too small. You’ll be dealing with excessive heat and an air conditioner that never turns off. Your energy bills will skyrocket, but your home won’t feel any cooler.
Striking the right balance is crucial, and that’s why it just makes sense to work with the professionals as Delaware Heating and Cooling. Thanks to our years of experience and access to the latest technological advances, we can perform precise calculations so that your air conditioner is sized just right for your home.
Call Delaware Heating and Cooling to learn more today about getting an air conditioner that’s the perfect size.