By lowering the room temperature and humidity level, an air conditioning system ensures the comfort of everyone in your home. Whether it’s a central system or window unit, choose your air conditioner carefully. Opt for energy-efficient solutions and develop good maintenance habits.

Main types and categories of air conditioners

Central air conditioner

  • Minisplit unit connected to air ducts in a forced-air system.
  • The category includes heat pumps, which both heat and cool air, as well as air conditioners, which only cool air.
  • These devices allow you to cool the entire home and, in the case of a heat pump, to heat it as well.

Ductless air conditioner (minisplit wall-mounted unit)

  • Minisplit with one or several built-in diffusers.
  • This type of air conditioner is increasingly used in homes without a forced-air system (i.e., with electric baseboard heaters or hot water heating).
  • The category includes heat pumps, which both heat and cool air, as well as air conditioners, which only cool air.
  • These air conditioners allow you to cool much of the home and, in the case of a heat pump, to heat it as well. The extent of cooling and heating will depend on the number of built-in diffusers and units and their capacity, as well as the dimensions, layout and location of spaces and rooms.

Room air conditioner

  • Window or wall unit (packaged unit).
  • This type of air conditioner is used to cool a single room. It is inexpensive and generally easy to install.

Portable air conditioner

  • A one- or two-duct packaged unit on wheels.
  • This type of air conditioner is used to cool a small space. It is much less efficient than a room unit, because it allows air infiltration, which interferes with the cooling process. You should only choose this type of unit if it is impossible or difficult to install a room unit.

Before you buy an air conditioner

  • Look for ENERGY STAR® certified high-efficiency models. ENERGY STAR® certified central air conditioners use an average of 8% less energy than standard models, while individual ENERGY STAR®-certified units use an average of 10% less energy than standard models.
  • Figure out the area to be cooled so you can determine how much power you need.
  • Read the EnerGuide label in the store before buying to compare the energy savings of a specific model with that of similar models.
  • Take into account the output, quality and price when comparing different types of air conditioners.
  • Check the air conditioner’s energy efficiency ratio (EER) and combined energy efficiency ratio (CEER). The higher the CEER or SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio), the more efficient the unit is. When both the CEER and EER ratings are displayed, use the CEER as your guide.
    • The EER (energy efficiency ratio) only calculates the energy consumption of a unit in operation while the CEER (combined energy efficiency ratio) calculates energy consumption while the unit is in operation, in standby mode and turned off.
    • On average, the CEER corresponds to 65% of the EER rating often used by manufacturers.

Keep up your good habits!

  • Clean or replace your air conditioner filters once a year.
  • When it’s very hot, limit your use of appliances that generate heat. If possible, use them during cooler periods when your air conditioner is turned off.
  • Rather than cranking up your air conditioner, use a ceiling fan as well to circulate cool air.