December is an excellent month to take advantage of sales on toys, electronics such as TVs, kitchen cookware and more.
Energy Star Air Conditioners
Energy Star Air Conditioners and AC Cooling Modes
There are dozens of low-cost window air conditioners to choose among, including many with an Energy Star and with a similar array of features. The most important distinguishing characteristics in the Cheapism price range are energy efficiency and the number and type of AC cooling modes and fan speeds.
Air Conditioner Efficiency.All air conditioners these days incorporate energy efficient technology.
An Energy Star label has some impact on price. Energy Star air conditioners are often more expensive than equivalent, less efficient models, and the extra money generally buys additional features, as well. For example, the Frigidaire FRA054XT7 has an EER of 10.7 and starts at $139 compared with the Frigidaire FRA052XT7 (starting at $100), which claims an EER of 9.7, no Energy Star, and a starting price of $120. Both have a capacity of 5,000 BTU but the Energy Star model comes with a remote control, a 24-hour on/off timer, and an energy-saver mode; the cheaper model has mechanical controls and none of these frills.
An Energy Star air conditioner also saves money on utilities; exactly how much depends on factors such as the capacity, home much it's used, its position relative to the sun, and the local price of electricity. According to the Energy Star website, consumers save an average of $75 dollars over the life of a qualified AC unit, which generally makes up for the higher upfront cost.
Fan Speeds and Cooling Modes.Inexpensive ACs feature two or three fan speeds and a like number of cooling speeds/modes. On the cheapest models, including the Frigidaire FRA054XT7, two fan-only speeds and two cooling options are the norm. Thrifty shoppers looking for more cooling flexibility typically have to pay the price; the Kenmore 70051 offers three fan speeds and three cooling modes (and at 5,200 BTUs, slightly higher capacity) for up to $40 more, depending on vendor.
The standard three fan speeds are low, medium, and high, and reviewers note there's a tradeoff between higher and lower fan speeds: the former cools a larger area and the latter produces less noise. The three AC cooling modes are typically high, low, and/or (depending on the manufacturer and model) some combination of dry, fan only, energy saver (the fan shuts down with the compressor and periodically restarts to check the temperature until the compressor is needed again), and sleep (the temperature rises automatically and incrementally to a desired level and holds steady all night).
An energy saver setting is found on numerous budget models, including most of our picks (the exclusions being the Frigidaire LRA107BU1 and Kenmore 70051). Some consumers opt not to use this AC cooling mode due to the noises associated with the constant on/off cycling. Sleep mode is available on the Kenmore 70051, Haier ESA406M, and Frigidaire FRA065AT7 (starting at $170), FRA086AT7, and LRA107BU1. Users of the Kenmore 70051 say they appreciate the money and energy savings from this AC cooling mode, which keeps them from waking up cold.
Haier ESA406M Review
Frigidaire FRA054XT7 Review
Frigidaire FRA086AT7 Review
LG LW1012ER Review
Kenmore 70051 Review
Frigidaire FRA065AT7 Review
LG LW8012ER Review
Frigidaire LRA107BU1 Review
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