Chill Out: An Air Conditioner Buying Guide

May 5, 2016 by Jason Loper


Summer is right around the corner. And that means it’s time to shift our thinking from how to stay warm to how to keep cool. According to Popular Mechanics, the window room air conditioner was invented in 1931 by H.H. Schultz and J.Q. Sherman and was available to consumers a year later. When they first hit the market in 1932, window air conditioners cost between $10,000 and $50,000!

We’ve come a long way since the past 70+ years. Not only have air conditioners become more affordable, they’ve become more efficient and, in the case of the new Kenmore Elite Smart Room Air Conditioner, smarter.

If it feels like your window air conditioner has been around since the days of Schultz and Sherman, here are a few things to consider when shopping for a new one.

Window Air Conditioner Buying Guide


Consider room size: Measure the size of the room that you’re trying to cool. A 10′ x 10′ bedroom, for example, is 100 square feet. Knowing the size of the space you’re cooling will help you decide how many BTUs the air conditioner will need.

150 to 350 sq ft = 5,000- to 8,000-BTU unit
350 to 550 sq ft = 8,000- to 12,000-BTU unit
550 to 1,050 sq ft = 12,000- to 18,500-BTU unit
1,050 to 1,600 sq ft = 18,500- to 25,000-BTU unit

BT-what? BTU stands for British Thermal Unit rating. Simply put, that’s the amount of heat the air conditioner can remove from a room. So the bigger the room or rooms, the higher the BTUs needed.

One room or two? When measuring, consider that the square footage of adjoining rooms that are connected by a doorway should be added together. For instance, a 10′ x 15′ living room (150 sq ft) with an adjoining 10′ x 10′ dining room (100 sq ft) would be considered 250 sq ft.

Consider window size: Measure the window where you will be installing the air conditioner. Refer to the minimum and maximum dimensions when shopping for your air conditioner. For instance, the Kenmore Elite 6000 BTU 115V Low-Profile Window-Mounted Room Air Conditioner requires a minimum window width of 26.5″ and will expand to a maximum width of 41.5″.

Shop the full selection of Kenmore air conditioners to find the window unit that best suits your needs.

Jason Loper

Jason Loper is a self-professed doyen of the domestic arts. In other words, he hasn’t met a household project he hasn’t enjoyed tackling. His latest project is renovating a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed American System-Built Home in Iowa.