Air Conditioner Buying Guide

Summer is right around the corner and temperatures are on the rise… now is the perfect time to assess your cooling needs before the thermometer hits triple digits!

Already have an air conditioner? First, check and clean your air conditioner to ensure it’s running properly. If you haven’t bought a new air conditioner in the past 7 years, upgrading to a more energy efficient model could save you money on your utility bill.

Need a new one? Whether you’re purchasing a window, portable or split air conditioner, you will find the choices in the market today are much more energy efficient. Before you go to the store there are two major things you should consider first before purchasing:


Getting a cooling system that‘s the wrong size is the most common mistake people make, regardless of the type.  An air conditioner that is too small will never cool the space and cost you more money to run, while an air conditioner that is too large will cool the space too quickly without removing the moisture, leaving the space cold and clammy.

When figuring out the size of the air conditioner you will need, you need to fist determine the size of the space you are looking to cool. Once you have the size you can determine how many BTUs is required to cool that space.  Learn how to calculate your BTUs here.


How will you be installing the air conditioner and will you be installing it yourself? Will it be through a wall or a window? This will help determine the type of air conditioner you need to purchase. If you are installing an A/C yourself, be sure that the electrical circuit to the room can handle the electrical load of the unit. Take a look at the outlets you have to determine what plug type you need.  Learn more about installation and different plug types here.


Types of Air Conditioners and Common Questions

Window/Wall Air Conditioners

Will window air conditioners work in any window?

Window air conditioners are built to fit multiple windows that open vertically or horizontally. Many window air conditioners include adjustable panels, which help them expand to fit and seal openings. Be sure to measure your window first before purchasing you’re an A/C unit.

Can any window air conditioner be installed through a wall?

No; you want a window/wall slide out air conditioner that can be installed in a window or in a wall. When installing a through-the-wall air conditioner, the first thing you want to determine is how thick your wall is. Measure the distance from the inside of the home to the outside of the home including the studs, sheet rock, and whatever type of material you have on the outside of your home. All these factors come into play in selecting the proper air conditioner.  Learn more here.

What is a ‘SEER’ Rating?

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, or SEER, calculates the efficiency of air conditioners. The higher the SEER rating is the greater the efficiency is. The lower the SEER rating is the more money you spend to operate it.

How much energy does a window air conditioner use?

To calculate this, divide the BTUs by the SEER rating. This gives you the watts per hour. Divide that by 1,000 to get kilowatt hours (kWh). Next, multiply the kWh by your power company rate to learn your costs per hour. For example, a 15,000 BTU air conditioner with a SEER rating of 12 and a cost of 30 cents per kWh would calculate as follows:

15,000 BTUs / SEER 12 = 1,250 W = 1.25 kWh

1.25 kWh x $0.30 = $0.375 per hour to run your window air conditioner. At 8 hours a day for 125 days of summer, your window air conditioner will have an annual running cost of $375 a year.

How often should you change/clean your air filter?

It’s best to change filters every three months. If you live in an area with a lot of dust or pollen, you may want to replace it more frequently or, at the very least, clean your filters once every 2 weeks. Clogged air filters can impair the performance of your air conditioner and increase your energy costs. Learn more about keeping your air conditioner running efficiently here.

Portable Air Conditioners

Why choose a portable air conditioner?

It is extremely easy to install, and for spaces that will not support a window/wall A/C unit, it may be your best option. Another great advantage is mobility, you can easily move it from room to room depending on where you are and which area needs attention, unlike a window unit that is installed and tends to remain in one spot.

Can I use a portable air conditioner in a room without a window?

Just like any other A/C unit, portable air conditioners need to have somewhere to release heat.  The most convenient way is to use a window, but there are other solutions. You can easily install through a door using an extended portable air conditioner installation kit or vent through a ceiling using a ceiling vent kit.

Is it safe to run a portable air conditioner overnight?

Absolutely! All portable air conditioners collect condensation as they cool, but you don’t have to worry about them overflowing as the unit will shut itself off before that happens. Most portable air conditioners will do the same thing if it’s time for a new air filter.

Can I lengthen the exhaust hose on the portable air conditioner?

This is not recommended. Extending the exhaust hose will void your warranty and if it isn’t done professionally it could be unsafe to use.

Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioners

Why choose a ductless mini-split?

Ductless mini split systems have the benefits of a central system without the difficulty and high material/labor costs of installing ductwork. Most systems can be installed and running in a few hours. Learn more about the benefits of ductless mini-split air conditioners here.

How do I choose a ductless split air conditioner?

Like all air conditioners, you need to know how many BTUs accommodate the area you’re trying to cool.  Ductless mini-splits cool a larger area for BTU capacity than portable or window air conditioners.  See a BTU key here.

How do I install a ductless mini-split air conditioner?

We and the manufacturer strongly recommend professional installation and suggest that self-installation should not be attempted. HVAC training and tools are needed to complete the installation of a ductless mini split air conditioning system to comply with technical, E.P.A. and environmental requirements.


P.C. Richard & Son is your air conditioner headquarters. We have a huge selection of air conditioners at the lowest prices guaranteed to keep you cool all summer! Still have questions? Check out our Learning Center or stop into your local P.C. Richard & Son Superstore and one of our friendly and knowledgeable sales associates can help you find an air conditioner that will best suit your needs.





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Keep Your Air Conditioner Running Efficiently


As the temperatures rise, so do energy costs. We all know running the air conditioner during the summer months can be quite costly, but a cool home doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Here are some tips on how to keep your air conditioner running efficiently while keeping those energy bills low, without compromising your comfort.

Keep the Cool In and the Heat Out

Make sure your home is properly sealed. Check your attic to make sure it has been properly insulated. If you can see the attic joists, you will need to add more insulation. Check your windows and doors for drafts and seal up any cracks with caulking or weather stripping.

Help Your Air Conditioner Breathe

Air conditioners consume a lot of energy, but there are a few tricks that will help lower their energy consumption. Remember to check the filters. Filters can compromise efficiency so you want to make sure to clean them or replace them. Keeping your air conditioner out of direct sunlight will also improve performance. To help with air circulation, keep fences, decks, bushes and other obstructions away from your unit.

Be a Fan of Fans

Investing in a ceiling fan will help move air around your home and improve the efficiency of your air conditioner.  With the help of a fan, your unit will not have to work as hard and this will help lower your energy costs.

Keep Your Curtains Closed

Of course natural light can help keep your electric bill low, but if nobody is home during the day, keep the curtains closed. Keeping the sun’s direct rays from entering the house helps reduce the amount of effort your air conditioner puts forth to keep the house cool.

Reduce the Humidity

Use a dehumidifier when the temperature rises. Eliminating the humidity in your home will make it feel cooler and more comfortable. When using a dehumidifier combined with fans you can set your air conditioner on 75 degrees saving you on energy costs.

Upgrade to a More Efficient Unit

Have you tried all the tricks, but still aren’t getting the results you want? It may just be time to spring for a new one. Newer systems are more efficient then systems from 10 years ago and can help trim your energy bills by 20% or more.

If you are looking for an air conditioner, P.C. Richard & Son is your air conditioner headquarters! We have a huge selection of wall and window air conditioners at the guaranteed lowest prices. Shop online or visit us at one of our 66 locations. Stay cool!


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Simple Tips to Save Money This Summer While Enjoying The Comfort of Your Air Conditioner

As the temperature rises, so does the electric bill. Running your air conditioner during the summer months is quite costly, but with these simple tips you won’t have to sacrifice your comfort to save some money.

Do you have the right size?

When it comes to maximizing your comfort while minimizing your electric bill; size matters. If you purchase an air conditioner that’s too large you could be throwing away money, however purchase an air conditioner that’s too small and it’s likely you’re not cooling your space efficiently. Having the right size air conditioning system is key. Whether you have a window air conditioner unit or a portable air conditioner unit, you need to make sure your AC has the right number of BTUs for the space you are trying to cool. Check the charts below.


Although the size of the space is important, it is not the only factor. Think of how many people will be occupying this space, is it more than two? If so add 600 BTUs for each additional person. Is the space very sunny? If the space you want to cool lets in a lot of sunlight increase BTUs by 10%. If the unit is for a kitchen add 4,000 BTUs.  You also need to check that the space you are cooling is properly insulated. If cool air is escaping this can affect the amount of BTUs needed as well.

When was the last time you cleaned the filters?

If you can’t remember that is probably not a good sign. The most important maintenance task to ensure efficiency of your air conditioner is to routinely clean or replace the filters. A clogged, dirty filter blocks normal airflow and reduces the unit’s efficiency significantly. Cleaning or replacing a dirty air filter will lower energy consumption of your air conditioner by 5-15 percent.

Some types of filters are reusable and others must be replaced. You should clean or replace filters every month during the summer season. You may need to give filters more frequent attention if your air conditioner is in constant use, subjected to dusty conditions, or you have a dog or a cat, or any other fur-bearing pet in the house.

As well as filters you should also check your evaporator coil once a year and clean it as necessary.

Setting the right temperature and mode

Most pros would agree that setting the temperature so that it only varies a few degrees is best for efficiency. When nobody is home bring the temperature up a few degrees and drop it when people are home. Set your air conditioner on auto. When you leave your air conditioner running constantly, the system won’t have a chance to drain off the water that’s condensed on its evaporator coil. Instead, it will blow it back into your home. In “auto” mode, the unit has a chance to recover and remove all accumulated condensation each time it shuts off.  The idea is to keep a comfortable temperature maintained. Remember dropping the temperature does not cool an area any faster, but it does use more energy.

At night give your air conditioner a break. When the temperature drops in the evening open your windows and use fans to circulate the cold air.  Fans use much less energy than an air conditioner. In the morning you should shut the windows to trap the cold air in.


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