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September 9, 2022

How Big of an Air Conditioning Unit Do You Need?

Air conditioning units are becoming a hot item all across the country. About 60% of Canadians have either a stand-alone air conditioner or central air conditioning in their homes. 

As the heat spikes, they become a smart investment for many of us. Be mindful that these units can produce a hefty hydro bill if used or installed improperly. 

In this blog, we’ll help you determine the size of an air conditioning unit you’ll need for your home and save you money while staying cool. 

How Do Air Conditioning Units Work?

These units are offered in a few main categories such as central, floor mounted, hybrid and ductless air conditioners. They each use the same essential process to cool your home. They pull heat and humidity out of living spaces with an evaporator coil, a condenser coil, a compressor and a refrigerant. 

A specialized HVAC consultant will find the most suitable unit for your home. The correct size depends on several factors from your home’s square footage, the number of windows and more. 

Air Conditioner Sizes

An air conditioning unit for your home is measured by using British Thermal Units (or BTUs). If you’ve shopped around for a BBQ, you’ve likely heard of BTUs before. It is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. 

An AC unit removes heat based on how many BTUs it can extract in 1 hour. As a rule of thumb, one ton of cooling equals 12,000 BTU of removed heat from your home. 

You can estimate the AC unit you need by your home’s square footage. Generally, you need a 1.0-ton unit for every 750-1,000 square feet. If your living space is about 1,250 square feet, then you’ll probably need a 1.5-ton unit. 

Air conditioning units typically start at around 1.5 tons and go upwards of 5 tons (it’s unlikely you’ll need any more).

Air Conditioner Efficiency Rating (SEER)

Not all air conditioners are made equally. Some more affordable units may be less efficient than premium units offering a similar level of cooling. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. 

SEER is a number calculated by the amount of cooling provided during the season divided by the electricity needed during the same season. It’s much like a vehicle’s fuel economy rating expressed in litres per 100km. 

It’s worth knowing the SEER number as this will directly affect your hydro bill. You’ll know if the air conditioning unit is efficient by seeing an ENERGY STAR certification on the package. This certification also means that the unit uses at least 8% less energy than conventional models its size. 

Factors That Influence Your Air Conditioning Unit Size

Using the square footage estimate gives you an idea of what to shop for, but other factors contribute to the size of the unit you’ll need. Have you considered efficiency? How much direct sunlight exposure is in your home each day? What are the weather conditions like?

There are other variables at play when installing a proper AC unit. A dealer like us at Whyte Plumbing has HVAC experts who can help you determine what you’ll need based on your specific home. 

Other factors may include: 

  • Total square footage desired to be cooled. 
  • A measured amount of sunlight exposure. 
  • Number and size of West and South facing windows. 
  • Appliances that generate heat inside. 
  • Construction of home (brick, wood, vinyl etc). 
  • Airflow and ducts. 
  • Headcount of people in the home. 
  • Other features contributing to heat loss/gain (fireplaces, skylights etc). 

If you’re interested in air conditioning units for your home and need more information, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Whyte Plumbing so we can assist you.