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Selecting a New Air Conditioner

Now that you have decided that you're ready to purchase a new air conditioner, consider the following to help make your decision.

The three important things to keep in mind when looking for a new air conditioner are: correctly sizing the unit, choosing an efficient model, and getting the unit installed properly. Also consider the type of filter required. Reusable filters can be cleaned and reused whereas disposable filters are only used once and then you must purchase a new one. Also, some filters catch smaller particles than other. For example, some newer units have electrostatic filters, which will remove extremely small particles out of the air. Those with allergies or respiratory problems may want to consider these types of filters.

Room Air Conditioners

Window UnitWhen purchasing a new room air conditioner unit, there are several options you may want to look for. The unit should have, in the very least, an adjustable thermostat, a minimum of two cooling settings, two fan speeds, an adjustable vent and an exhaust vent setting. You can learn more about air conditioners, how they work and some basic maintenance tips from the DOE's Consumer Energy Information Center.

Central Air Conditioners

Central Air Conditioning UnitWhen choosing a new central air conditioning system, look for one with a minimum SEER of 12. A SEER of 12 or more is considered high efficiency, the best available currently at 17. ENERGY STAR qualified models are available with a higher SEER and can save you 20% on your cooling bill with its 25-40% greater efficiency than standard ten year old models. The cooling system will include both the outdoor condensing unit and the indoor air handler. A contractor can help you in choosing the right system for your home.

Be sure you purchase your new air conditioning system from an authorized dealer or some manufacturers will not honor warrantees and rebates. Your salesperson should be able to tell you what the warranty is on your unit. Consider parts as well as labor. Labor costs can be very high for replacing a compressor for example, so look for a warranty that covers both. Always hang on to the receipt to provide proof of purchase when you go to use the warranty.

A guide for selecting an air conditioning unit can be found on the ENERGY STAR site.


You have made a smart and responsible choice in choosing your energy efficient air conditioner. Now that you have the unit installed and running, be sure to keep it running properly. You should keep all warranty information, receipts, manufacturer's contact information, dealer's contact information, and appliance rebate forms.

 Cooling System Installation
 Cooling System Maintenance
 Programmable Thermostats
 Duct Sealing and Insulation
 Heating System Selection
 DOE's Cooling Your Home Efficiently
 Right-Size Heating and Cooling Equipment: DOE Technology Fact Sheet
 American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
 Air Conditioning Contractors of America

Content updated July 9, 2004

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