Terms to Learn When Shopping for a New Air Conditioner

When shopping for a new air conditioner for your home, it’s good to understand some terms and phrases you might come across, so you know you chose the right unit for your space. This will also ensure you don’t overpay for a unit you don’t really need, while not getting an undersized or inefficient air conditioner. Note a few of those terms and phrases here.


BTUs refers to British Thermal Units, which is a measurement of the power of an air conditioner. The more BTUs provided by the unit, the more air it can cool at one time. Most air conditioners range from 5000 to over 20,000 BTUs, and you would choose a size based on the square footage of your home as well as other factors such as how much direct sunlight it gets and if the space is well-insulated.

Note, however, that you don’t want to assume that a unit with the most BTUs is the best choice; an oversized unit will cool your space so quickly that it won’t have a chance to remove humidity, and the air gets very cold and then warms up again very fast, so that the unit cycles on and off too often. Choose a measurement of BTUs that is sufficient but not more than you really need.

Energy Efficiency or EE

The Energy Efficiency or EE rating of an air conditioner can be confusing to homeowners, as you might assume that a higher EE rating means the unit uses less electricity. However, a higher EE rating means that more energy is used to actually cool and circulate air, versus other electrical functions of the unit. In turn, there is less waste of electricity, not necessarily less use of electricity. Invest in unit with the highest EE rating you can afford but don’t assume this will automatically mean lower electric bills during the summer.

“Room” Air Conditioner

Be careful about the term “room” air conditioner as this can mean a variety of things; it might refer to a window unit or a portable unit that still needs a window nearby for venting. It might also mean a split system, which is a unit that blow cool air out a panel installed in a wall or ceiling, but not through the home’s vents. Each has different specifications for installation and power requirements, so don’t assume they’re all the same even though they may all be advertised as a “room” air conditioner.

Comments are closed.