The Importance of Power Levels in a New Air Conditioner

With spring officially here and summer on its way soon, the time has come to replace any older or worn air conditioners with a new one. Doing so now gives you the time to consider your options carefully and select the system that works best for you, then install it at a point that works with your busy schedule. That way, your new system is ready to go by the time the first heat wave hits, and you can enjoy the advantages of efficiency and reliability that it offers.

Among the first questions to ask when determining a new system for your home is the power level it must have. Doing so can make a huge difference in the monthly cost and overall efficiency of your new air conditioner. A trained technician should be able to help you make the right calculations.


You can probably guess that an underpowered air conditioner won’t col your home sufficiently, while wasting a great deal of energy by running constantly. What most people don’t understand is that an overpowered air conditioner may be just as bad. It runs against one’s intuition – won’t a more powerful air conditioner cool the air more quickly? – but the facts stand out. Air conditioners use much more energy starting and stopping than they do simply running. Ideally, your system should run for at least fifteen minutes at a clip in order to ensure maximum efficiency. An overpowered unit will engage in what’s known as short-cycling: turning on and off multiple times in the course of a single day, and driving up costs considerably. The right system needs to fulfill what we call the Goldilocks Rule: neither too large nor too small, but just right.


Determining proper power levels starts with measuring the square footage of your home, which provides a good baseline to start with. But there’s more to it than that. A trained technician will take other factors into account when determining the right power levels for your system, including:

  • Insulation in your home will keep cool air in during the summer just as readily as it keeps war air in during the winter. The more insulation, the smaller the A/C’s power load needs to be.
  • Sunlight Exposure. Large picture windows, especially those with a western view, can let in lots of sunlight and therefore raise the temperature in the home.
  • Upper Floors. The upper floors in a multi-story house tend to be warmer than the first floor, since heat rises.
  • Kitchen Space. The kitchen tends to generate more heat than other parts of the home owing to the oven, stove top, dishwasher and similar appliances. Its square footage needs to be adjusted slightly to reflect this fact.

Once these calculations are made, you can settle on the proper sizing for your new air conditioner and proceed with other factors, such as system efficiency.

For quality air conditioning replacement services in Lake Oswego, OR, call Western Heating & Cooling.