For many people on Maui, room air conditioners are the right option. While they can’t cool an entire building or house, they can deliver comfortable air temperatures where they are needed. More importantly, they are much cheaper and easier to install than central cooling systems. So while I may recommend a central air conditioner for people who need centralized cooling, I have to take into account personal preferences.
But how do you choose the right window AC?
It depends on how big your room is. The cooling capacity of an air conditioner is measured in British thermal units (Btu) per hour, and an AC can have a cooling capacity of as low as 5,500 Btu per hour to as high as 14,000 Btu per hour. This unit of measurement is important when calculating your room’s load.
The general rule is, for every square foot of room space, your air conditioner needs 20 Btu per hour. However, this is a simplistic means of calculating your cooling needs. Other factors come into play. For instance, the height of your ceiling, the number of regular occupants in a room, and the location of the room all affect how big your air conditioner needs to be.
Energy Star’s recommendations are as follows once you have made initial load calculation:
- Reduce capacity by 10% if your room is surrounded by trees and is shaded.
- Raise capacity by 10% if your room is under direct sunlight.
- Add 600 Btu for every additional regular occupant of the room if more than two persons regularly stay in it.
- Increase the capacity by 4,000 Btu if you’re installing a window unit in the kitchen.
How big your AC needs to depend on what room you’re installing it in. For a typical bedroom that’s around 100-300 square feet, you need an air conditioner with a capacity of 5,000 – 6,000 Btu. Larger and busier rooms around 350 – 650 square feet need a unit with 9,800 – 12,500 Btu.
What if the air conditioning unit is smaller than what my room requires?
If you buy a small air conditioner for a relatively big room, note that while you may have saved on the initial cost, you will be spending more on electric bill and repairs in the long run. Because a small unit struggles to cool a big room, it will run longer and work harder. A struggling air conditioner is energy-hungry. Worse, it will wear out faster.
Is a bigger Maui room air conditioner better?
We get it. It gets hot on Maui, especially during the warmest months, so it makes sense to buy a bigger window AC, right?
A unit that’s too big for your room will cool it fast. Sure. And that’s the problem. What happens is, your AC will start and stop more frequently, causing the equipment to wear out faster than a unit of the right size. It also cools your room faster than it can strip off its moisture, leaving you with that stuffy feeling. If you think the failure of your AC to dehumidify your room isn’t serious, wait until you smell mold in your home.
Should you be worried about efficiency?
The efficiency of an air conditioner is measured in SEER rating, which is basically the cooling capacity per unit of power input. The higher the SEER rating, the less energy the equipment requires to cool the same room to the same temperature. Should you be concerned about it? If you wish to lower your electric bill and carbon footprint, yes. There are relatively efficient systems that are reasonably priced. Look for models with the Energy Star label.
Air conditioner installation on Maui entails a few things, one of the most important is checking your home’s electrical system to make sure it can handle the demands of the cooling equipment. Window type units run on either a 115-volt or 230-volt circuit. Check the AC’s voltage requirement. The average American home uses the 115-volt connection, so equipment rated at 230 volts needs a dedicated circuit.
- Window air conditioners are heavy, and most people find it difficult, if not impossible, to install one on their own.
- Location matters. You want to install the unit in a shaded part of the house, not under direct sunlight. In addition, you want to install it near a power outlet.
- Check that the unit’s plug is compatible with your outlet.
Features to Look for
- Facile control layout allows easy adjustments. Look for mechanical controls for fan speed and cooling level as well as electronic controls that allow you to set the AC to a specific temperature.
- A programmable thermostat allows you to run your unit only during specific times of the day, such as when you’re at home. Thus, it helps you save on air conditioning cost.
- An AC whose filter can be removed by sliding it out of the unit is preferable. That way, you will find it easy to remove the filter for cleaning and replacement.
- Many models come with remote control, which makes adjustments convenient, and some remotes function as temperature sensors that turn the unit on only when the room temperature rises above the specified setting.
Tips for Operating Air Conditioners on Maui
- Your window unit relies on good air circulation, so any obstruction near the unit hampers its ability to function at its best. Make sure that the surrounding of the outdoor part of the unit is free from obstructions and that the indoor unit is not near furniture.
- Block as much sunlight as possible using curtains. Sunlight heats up your floor and counters and raises the indoor temperature, thereby promoting your AC to work harder.
- Set your thermostat a bit higher. While 72 degrees feel great, 78 degrees isn’t so bad. You will still feel comfortable at a slightly higher temperature without the shock that a huge electric bill brings.
- If you feel uncomfortable when you raise your temperature setting, it’s probably because of the humidity. Turn on the dehumidifier.
- Turn on the fan. Another way to get away with setting the thermostat higher without feeling muggy is to let the air in your room circulate. A ceiling fan can make you feel a few degrees cooler.
- Monitor your power consumption. A new appliance, unplugged devices, or an ailing air conditioning system can bump up your electric bill. It’s no secret that an AC is a notorious power sucker when not properly maintained.
- Clean and replace your filter. Cleaning an AC filter is a task most people can do without technical assistance.
Do you have questions about room air conditioner installation on Maui? Call us at 808-244-0161.