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Purchasing a portable AC? Keep these tips in mind

StatePoint Media

Special to the Village News

With the scorching summer temperatures, a cautionary tale unfolds for those in search of a portable air conditioning unit to beat the heat. Enticing promises and clever marketing tactics make it easy to fall prey to the pitfalls that await unsuspecting buyers. Instead, consider these tips when shopping for a new portable air conditioner.


Be aware that a higher advertised BTU rating doesn't always guarantee a cooler indoor space. BTU is short for British Thermal Unit, which is a unit of measurement that shows how much energy your air conditioner uses to remove heat from your home within an hour. Sellers may advertise more BTUs than the product's actual performance, but buyers beware. The truth lies in making sure the unit's rating matches the Department of Energy's BTU rating for your room's square footage, according to the DOE guidelines. When shopping online or in-store, check for the certified DOE-rated BTU level for correct coverage – and if you don't see this information listed, stay away. A free online BTU calculator can help you choose.


Manufacturers market their products with proclamations of excellence. Don't be lured in with claims and prices. Insist on reviewing the product's energy guide for the actual BTU rating. Also, make sure the portable AC you are interested in is authenticated by credible third-party organizations that indicates it has met or exceeded performance standards.


Before making a decision between window ACs or portable units, determine which type best suits your needs and the room before making a purchase. As a general rule, portable units can be easier to install and more versatile.


Whether you're sensitive to noise or don't wish to hear the sound of a motor running, check the unit's decibel rating. Cool interiors and ultra-quiet performance can co-exist, if you shop around.


In addition to purchasing a portable AC unit, proper maintenance can help ensure it runs smoothly and efficiently. Periodically remove the filter from the unit and dust it, and clean debris from inside the unit with compressed air. A few lifestyle changes can also contribute to a cooler, more comfortable home. These changes include avoiding the stove and oven on super-hot days, planting shade-bearing trees or bushes outside windows and swapping out incandescent bulbs for energy efficient LEDs.

Navigating a sea of misleading product claims can be exhausting, particularly when it comes to buying the equipment you need to keep your home and family comfortable in extreme weather. When it comes to a cool home, however, you don't have to sweat it. A bit of research can help you achieve optimal comfort this summer.


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