Best Buys: Air conditioners

(National) July 12, 2004 - Eight million air conditioners were sold last year, and the numbers are expected to be higher this year. Consumer Reports just evaluated 36 air conditioners in a sealed lab equipped with special sensors that monitor temperature and humidity.

All of the air conditioners did a good job cooling, but when it came to things like noise and efficiency testers saw big differences.

They used a sound meter to measure the decibel levels to see how loud the air conditioners were. Some were much noisier than others.

Testers found more air conditioners have cool features, including a wider range of temperature settings, and some offer a "sleep" mode. Jim Nanni of Consumer Reports says, about an hour after you set it, the temperature rises a few degrees, "About seven hours after that the temperature is again lowered so the room is cool when you wake up."

Overall, energy efficiency has gotten better, and so, Nanni says, have prices, "You can buy an air conditioner with very high energy efficiency for reasonable prices today."

Consumer Reports found two very good choices. For a small bedroom Consumer Reports recommends Kenmore model number 72059, which costs $180. If you're looking to cool down a larger space, like a living room, LG model number LW-8000-ER does a great job for $260.

Consumer Reports says when you're shopping for air conditioner, the size of the room determines how many BTUs the air conditioner should have. Too few and the air conditioner can't cool the space; too many and you end up with a room that's too humid.

To get help figuring out the right-sized AC for your room, go to You'll find an interactive worksheet called "Choosing the Right Size Air Conditioner " free from the homepage. It will be available until August 9th.

posted 6:00pm by Chris Rees

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright @ 2004 Consumers Union of U. S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED