Air Conditioner Basics: A Homeowner’s Guide to Home Cooling

Home cooling is important in almost all parts of the country. Even if your region gets only a few weeks of humid, hot and uncomfortable summer weather, you’ll want to know that a flick of a switch can restore your home to a livable condition. That is why any homeowner will want to have a thorough understanding of the cooling system at work within their property.


As you might know, there are really only a few ways that you can have home cooling:

  • Window mounted air conditioners that are removed on a seasonal basis, or left in place and covered or sealed during cooler weather
  • HVAC systems that use a main air conditioning unit outside of the building and ductwork that transports the conditioned air throughout the living areas.
  • Mini split systems that do not require ductwork, but which connect to the home via a conductor or conduit

What is interesting is that most of the premium, modern systems operate along the same guidelines. For example, you set a thermostat on the system/unit controls and when a room or space exceeds that temperature, the air conditioning system clicks into action.

When an air conditioner is working, it is usually going to use a condenser to create cool air and a pump or fan to disperse it through the ductwork or directly into a room or space. The cooling is done through the use of refrigerants in the condenser unit or coils, and these will actually pull air in from the room, pass it over the coils to remove heat and then disperse it back into the room at much lower temperatures.

Now, that is the way that air cooling is done at the most basic level. Each system is a bit more complex than that, and each device has a different size and level of efficiency. As one expert has written, “The size of an air conditioner is expressed as tons of cooling capacity. (The process of finding the proper size unit for your home is called a load calculation.) A ton is equal to the ability of the system to remove 12000 BTU of heat per hour. BTU stands for British Thermal Unit and is just a standard measure of heat.”

Air conditioners also have a measurement known as SEER, which means Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and is a ratio of the cooling output divided by the power input. This is important because there are federal laws about the minimum SEER levels for air conditioners, which is 13. As you can probably guess, the higher the SEER, the more efficient the cooling.

Even the best systems, however, need maintenance, and that too is something to consider when making a purchase of a home cooling system of any kind. Having expert help in choosing, installing and maintaining is the ideal option, and HVAC Direct is a great place to begin. With sizing guides, online shopping, and options for financing, they can help to ensure you choose the right equipment for your home or property.