Air conditioning systems – portable units that can be moved to where you need them most, or fixed, whole-house systems – cool the temperature of the air in your home, but also remove moisture, dust and other impurities making your domestic environment comfortable and clean. Air conditioning systems are typically efficient, quiet and require little in terms of ongoing maintenance. Indeed the benefits of an air conditioning system are easy to take for granted although the difference – on say a balmy summer day –between a home with air conditioning, and one without, is unmistakable.
Air Conditioning Features, Benefits & Considerations
The size of an air conditioning unit or system – in terms of its cooling power – should be tailored to the physical size of the space that it is required to cool. Cooling power is measured in kW (“kilowatts”) or Btu (“British thermal units”) per hour, and, typically, a room with dimensions of up to 16′ x 13′ requires 2.0kW, or 8,530Btu per hour. If a room is naturally cool – north facing for example – it may require less cooling power. If an air conditioning system provides too little cooling power it will be ineffective, and if it provides too much it will cool the air quickly but shut down before dehumidifying the air, leaving a room feeling humid and damp rather than cool and refreshing. Windows, electrical equipment and people may also affect the efficiency of an air conditioning system.
Energy efficiency is obviously important in an air conditioning system – for the sake of your own utility bills and the environment as a whole – and air conditioning systems are now included in the mandatory European Union energy labelling scheme. The scheme allows the energy efficiency of different models to be compared according to an agreed international standard. Air conditioning systems typically consume somewhere between 1.0kW and 1.5kW per hour, so by multiplying the cost of electricity per unit by these figures it is easy to calculate running costs.
In terms of ongoing costs, regular maintenance of an air conditioning system – including cleaning and adjustment – preferably by the supplier, is important to its efficiency, longevity, and safety. Air filters, in particular, should be replaced on a regular basis. An efficient system reduces your monthly energy bills and is less likely to present problems – such as water or carbon monoxide leaks – requiring inconvenient and expensive repairs at times when you need your air conditioning to be performing to the best of its ability.
An annual maintenance contract – where you pay a flat-rate fee, monthly or annually, regardless of the parts and labours costs involved in maintaining your system – may prove to be a highly cost-effective solution. An air conditioning system may last anything up to 20 years if properly maintained, but, given the improvements in energy efficiency in recent years, any system over 10 years old – and/or exhibiting signs of deterioration – is probably worth replacing altogether.