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The Right Air Conditioner for You in Seattle

When it comes to making your home a comfortable 72 degrees all year long it means not only buying a heating and air conditioning system, it means buying the RIGHT air conditioning system.  And when we only use our A/C’s three to four months out of the year, in Seattle, it’s important that we find the systems that fit our needs.  When you are considering adding an A/C to your home there are a number of things that you should consider.  And your neighborhood cooling and heating specialist from Fox Plumbing & Heating is here to help you answer some of those questions.

AC-cooling-UnitsThe first thing you need to decide is, “What size of air conditioner you need?”  Air conditioners that are too big will use more electricity, and can break due to being underworked because they are too big for the job. The larger units tend to leave the air in your house with excess humidity that can lead to dampness and mold issues.  And mold issues are something that we really don’t need help with here in Seattle.  Another thing that we tend to see with many of our clients in Bellevue, Sammamish, and Seattle is that people have been sold the wrong size units.  Usually traditional units when they only needed a Ductless Mini-Split system, like one from Daikin.  On the other end is that air conditioners that are too small do not cool your home to a comfortable temperature.

Try following these simple steps when choosing the right size air conditioner:

  1. Measure the square footage of the area that you want air conditioned.  Make a note of the measurements so that you can reference it later.  If the room is not a perfect square or rectangle, then you’ll need to divide the room into sections of squares and triangles.  If you still have questions about this then don’t hesitate to contact your local cooling specialist at Fox Plumbing & Heating.
  2. If you’re looking for a Ductless Mini-Split system you’ll need to calculate the square footage of the room. Formula: Width x Length.  If you have a room that is an odd shape then you can find the square footage with the following method: Triangular sections are found by multiplying 0.5 x length x width and then add this to the rectangular areas. 
  3. If you decide that you want a traditional central air conditioning system then you’ll want to determine the square footage for your entire home.  Reviewing your property tax statement or contacting your county auditor's office is another way to find out the total square footage of your home.  You’ll need to exclude areas of the home that won't be cooled.  Here at Fox Plumbing & Heating we tend to encourage our neighbors and customers to choose the system that works the best for their needs in Seattle and King County.  While these units can be used, traditional units are primarily for warmer dry regions of the United States. 
  4. Finally, you’ll need to figure out the necessary cooling capacity.  Cooling capacity for Ductless Mini-Split and central air conditioning systems are measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs) per hour. The United States Department of Energy website offers these guidelines for BTUs:
    1. 100 sq. - 300 sq. ft.: 5,000 to 7,000 BTU
    2. 300 sq. - 550 sq. ft.: 8,000 to 12,000 BTU
    3. 550 sq. - 1,000 sq. ft.: 14,000 to 18,000 BTU
    4. 1,000 sq. - 1,200 sq. ft.: 21,000 to 24,000 BTU
    5. 1,500 sq. - 2,000 sq. ft.: 30,000 BTU
    6. 2,000 sq. - 2,500 sq. ft.: 34,000 BTU

The Tools You’ll Need

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Stanley Metal Measuring Tape
  • Calculator or Calculator App

Tips to Remember While Calculating BTUs

  • Reduce BTU capacity by 10% if your room or home gets a lot of shade.
  • Increase BTU capacity by 10% if your room or home has a lot of natural light.
  • Add 600 BTUs per person if more than two people occupy the room or home.
  • Add 4,000 BTUs if the system will be cooling a kitchen area.
  • When looking at a traditional system, exclude areas that are not cooled, including; the basement, attic, garage, etc.

Fox Plumbing & Heating of Seattle, Bellevue, Sammamish, Auburn and the rest of King County want to thank the United States Department of Energy for the BTU guidelines and Jessica Lietz who we’ve adapted some of her research for this piece.  Remember, if you have any further questions that your neighborhood cooling and heating specialist from Fox Plumbing & Heating is here to help.

With this being our 50th Anniversary, we’re happy to announce that we are offering 50% off any service call charge for your air conditioning or heating system.  Just reference: FOX50 to receive the discount.

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