The Energy Question
Energy efficiency is your next shopping consideration. It's also the easiest — manufacturers are required by the federal government to list the energy rating right on the unit. Referred to as the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER), this figure is the cooling capacity divided by the electrical power required to run the unit. The higher the number, the better. Most 115V units have an EER of 9 or 10. Any unit above 10 is considered extremely efficient, and the true energy champs fall in the low 12s.

As with cooling capacity, you'll pay more up front for energy efficiency. Going from an EER of 9 to an EER of 10 could add up to $100 to the price tag. But you can easily amortize that cost over the life of the unit in energy savings. Check the Energy Guide label on any unit you're considering to find its estimated operating cost.

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