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It's too hot to think, so we asked SUVASINI SRIDHARAN to help you pick the perfect air-conditioner

When the ceiling fan does nothing to cool you down, you know it's time to bring out the big guns. With summers getting longer and hotter, air-conditioners are proving indispensable. But they cost a lot and consume heavy power. Here's a quick guide to how you can get the most from your AC shopping this summer.

Split or window?

While window ACs are cheaper than split ACs, the price gap is narrowing fast. “Split ACs are easy to install, aesthetically more pleasing and give uniform cooling,” says Anup Bhargav, Product Group Head, Godrej. The noise and leakage levels are also lower. Also, window ACs could prove a security risk if located on the ground floor. According to Mahesh Krishnan, Sr V-P (Consumer Electronics) Samsung India, the company has stopped making window ACs. One tonne or 1.5 tonnes is the first question yours sales person will ask. Says B. Thiagarajan, President, Blue Star: “The size of the room, the floor on which the room is located, whether it faces east and how many people will use the room will decide the AC capacity.” Adds Bhargav: “The basic thumb rule states that a 1 tonne air conditioner is enough to effectively cool a room having size up to 100 square feet.”

What star?

All ACs come with star ratings, which has been made mandatory by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE). Ratings are based on the Co-efficient of Performance (COP), which is the measure of every watt of cooling delivered for every watt of energy consumed. Companies keep upgrading technology, so watch out for more energy-efficient models. A typical 5-star AC consumes around 1570 watts/hr. “Godrej's Green Balance AC uses R290, a hydro carbon refrigerant rather than regular refrigerant. So they consume only 912 watts/hour for a 1 tonne AC, which is less power than a hair dryer,” says Bhargav. Star ratings are revised every two years by BEE. With competition running high, brands keep adding extra features. These range from filters to eliminate micro-organisms to inbuilt stabilisers to regulate voltage during power surges to even Vitamin C filters to reduce stress and soften skin! 

Your purchase must come with warranty and after-sales service details. The price includes installation kit with insulation copper wire, so don't pay extra. Never skimp on the stabiliser, buy a reputed brand. Ensure that only a trained company technician installs the AC. Thiagarajan says that the “right temperature at which to run an AC is 23 or 24 deg. C, as there is least power wastage at that temperature.”

ACs must not be run for more than 10 hours at a time, as carbon dioxide levels build up. Finally, get them serviced at least once a quarter to prevent fungus build-up.

The Bureau of Energy Efficiency has a calculator to figure out how much electricity your AC consumes. Input the AC capacity, the star rating, the operating time and choose the state you live in. Accordingly, the amount you will spend on electricity will be displayed. You can also compare the savings in electricity charges between a 5 star and a 1 star AC. Check out the Energy Calculator tool atwww.saveenergy.co.in.


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