Beat The Heat – your window air conditioning how-to guide

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Written by Marc Rivers, communications intern at Touchstone Energy. Marc is a rising senior studying Film and English at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

The official start of summer was June 21, and we are all certainly feeling the heat! Here in the Washington, D.C. area, the mercury is traveling to the highest levels seen so far this season. When you’re not feeling brave enough to tackle the hot and sticky weather outside, you want to make sure you feel nice and cool indoors.

Having a working Window Air Conditioner (A/C), helps significantly in this regard. Designed to cool a single room, a window air conditioner is an efficient and surprisingly versatile tool to have in the house.

Depending on the model, a window air conditioner can operate in different modes: cooling, fan-only and heating. The cooling mode takes in room air, cools it and directs it back into the room. Different models feature pre-set cooling levels while others let you set your preferred temperature for the unit to maintain. Fan-only uses less energy and simply circulates and filters the room air. The heating mode allows you to set the desired temperature and the heating system cycles on and off to maintain it.

As with any piece of equipment, there are various factors to consider when making your purchase. The square footage of the room you want to cool should dictate the size of the A/C unit. You will also want to know the conditioner’s BTU (British thermal unit) rating, which indicates the amount of heat it can remove from a room—The higher the number, the greater the cooling power.

Also consider: how much sunlight does a room receive? Is the room always shaded? What is the average number of occupants of the room? These seemingly minor factors will serve you greatly in buying the proper unit.

When you’re installing your A/C unit, don’t be a hero; get help from a neighbor, professional or family member. You don’t want that heavy thing falling on your foot. Also keep in mind that installing the unit in a shaded window increases its efficiency. Make sure a working power outlet is nearby.

Heating - Air conditioning Thermostat with Window.

Heating – Air conditioning Thermostat with Window.

An A/C unit has a number of dynamic features to help guarantee you get the most out of your purchase.

A  programmable timer lets you set a time your unit will turn on and off. Mechanical controls allow you to adjust fan speed and cooling levels. There’s also a sleep setting, which increases the specified temperature over a period of time before returning to the original setting several hours later. This feature reduces the unit’s noise, which should help you binge watch that Netflix show without any distractions. An electronic ionizer helps the unit remove impurities like pollen in the air, remote controls allow you to control the unit without leaving the couch, and filter alerts let you know when the air filter needs cleaning.

Other steps to take to ensure your unit is working at the highest efficiency level include keeping it clear of obstructions outside and inside, reducing the workload of the unit by using appliances such as dishwashers, ranges and dryers during the cool hours of the day, keeping the exterior of the cooling room shaded, and closing window treatments when it’s sunny outside.

Summers are long enough that you want to keep you’re A/C unit in the best possible working condition. To do so, make sure you check and clean the air filter regularly, wipe down the cabinet with a damp cloth and mild detergent, and prepare the unit for storage for that long hibernation during the winter.

If you follow these guidelines – and make sure to read the instruction manual of course – you should feel confident that your home will provide a cool reprieve from the heat waves summer brings.

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