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Real Estate

Air conditioning options abound

| Tuesday, July 7, 2015, 9:00 p.m.

I have a customer who is a regular visitor to Maine.

He tells me that in Maine there are only two seasons — winter and July.

However brief, July there can be warm and very humid, which for thick blooded Mainers, is not pleasant.

Based on the impracticality of central air for most in the pine tree state, many there have turned to portable air conditioners as a way to beat July's heat.

Here in Western Pennsylvania, we have more than just July to contend with when it comes to heat and humidity.

Many of us enjoy central air conditioning but some don't and seek a less expensive way to enjoy the great indoors. So are portable air conditioners a practical choice for us?

As with most products, portable air conditioners are subjects for debate.

Some claim that they are expensive to buy, do not cool things down well and are noisy during operation.

Other reports dispute those claims. So in an effort to provide fair information, I sorted through the hot air and came to the following conclusions.

First, high-quality portable air conditioners are not cheap. But remember, they possess a number of features which add to their function.

They are, after all, portable and may be moved from room to room easily. Some may also be used as de-humidifiers and even heaters.

Virtually all have remote control.

As for the cooling power, each unit is labeled with a BTU rating.

That translates into an approximate square footage, which it is designed to cool. In order to get the maximum effectiveness out of a portable air conditioner, one must not exceed that square footage. Basically, the units are built to cool one room.

In order to restrict the square footage it is necessary to close the door to the room in which the unit is operating.

This brings us to the noise issue. In a confined area, a little noise goes a long way — just ask an elementary school cafeteria worker. So if the air conditioner is running and the door to the room is closed, the noise is apparent.

But remember, these machines are thermostatically controlled so they are not constantly running. Rather they are cycling on and off according to the desired temperature. So at any given moment, peace and quiet may only be a Fahrenheit degree away.

All things considered, portable air conditioners are problem solvers.

Sure they cost a few bucks, but they allow homeowners some flexibility and options that window units cannot. They are limited in their cooling area but when used as directed, they're fine.

They make a bit of racket, which is likely to be an acceptable trade-off for the comfort they provide. The Mainers just might be onto something with these machines. Of course they had many long winters to think about it.

Ed Pfeifer is the owner of Pfeifer Hardware Inc., 300 Marshall Way, Mars and a freelance columnist for Trib Total Media. This column is his two year anniversary of writing for the newspaper. If you have hardware-related questions, call the store at 724-625-9090.

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