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THE SENSIBLE HOME

Cooling Air Is Quieter, Cheaper Now

August 11, 1996|JAMES DULLEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

QUESTION: What's new in super-efficient window air conditioners for 1996? I have an old one, but it is noisy and does not hold the room temperature even. Does it make sense to use one if I have central air-conditioning?

ANSWER: There are many improvements in noise reduction and new comfort features in window air conditioners. Even if you have central air, running one or two small window units and setting your thermostat higher saves overall.

Although the energy efficiency ratios of the super-efficient models are still in the 10 to 12 range (twice your old unit), the true electricity savings is greater in the 1996 models.

New electronic comfort features result in the compressor and fan running less. Extra internal insulation, coupled with the reduced running time and slower fan speeds, lowers the sound to easy-sleeping levels.

For the greatest comfort, choose a window air conditioner with electronic controls. These provide accurate one-degree temperature control in a 64- to 86-degree range. The set temperature is also held very constant.

With the lightweight electronics, some average-size window units weigh less than 50 pounds. Slide out chassis designs make do-it-yourself installation simple. Extra narrow models are available for casement and slider windows.

An automatic restarting circuit runs the compressor for a brief period every eight minutes, even if the room is cool enough. This does not over-cool the room, but it keeps the humidity level down for better comfort.

An electronic "smart fan" feature is good for bedrooms. A sensor inside the air conditioner constantly measures the room temperature and automatically adjusts the fan to the lowest, quietest speed for efficient cooling.

It is important to consider the size and shape of the area you need to cool. For small areas or when cooling only in one direction, like a sofa in front of a TV, simple four-way adjustable louvers are adequate.

For cooling larger areas or oddly shaped areas, choose one with 12-way adjustable louvers. To cool very large areas evenly, a motorized oscillating louver feature, called "Airsweep" or "Air Swing," is effective.

When purchasing a low-cost, non-electronic model, it is imperative to buy the proper-sized air conditioner for the area to be cooled. One that is too large will not dehumidify well or cool evenly. One that is too small will not cool adequately. Check the owner's manual for sizing recommendations.

Write for Update Bulletin No. 475 showing a buyer's guide of 12 super-efficient electronic and mechanical window air conditioners listing types of controls, energy ratios, comfort features, number of fan speeds, BTU cooling output, voltage required and a recommended sizing chart. Please include $2 and a business-size self-addressed stamped envelope and mail to James Dulley, Los Angeles Times, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244.

An Easy Repair for Cracks in Ceiling

Q: There are several small cracks in the textured bedroom ceiling under the attic. They started after I added additional attic insulation. How can I fix them without re-texturing the entire ceiling?

A: It probably is just a coincidence that the small cracks formed after insulation was added. If anything, the insulation should hold the material temperature more constant and minimize the possibility of cracks.

Cut just the tip off of a tube of acrylic latex caulk for a narrow bead. Fill the cracks with the caulk. Before it sets up, touch it with a wet sponge or brush to create the textured look. Paint it if necessary.

For a complete list of Update Bulletins in 30 topic categories, write to James Dulley, Los Angeles Times, List, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244.

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