Air Conditioner Buying Guide - Best Buy Canada

June 01, 2012

Buying Guide

When the heat of summer hits, getting an air conditioner to keep your home cool and comfortable is a no-brainer. But if you’re not sure what to look for while shopping, you might lose your cool.

Air Conditioner

When the heat outside makes the environment inside your home too hot to handle, an air conditioner is the obvious solution. Every model is designed to cut the heat and humidity indoors so everyone inside your home – especially those who are vulnerable to heat and humidity – are comfortable all day and all night.

Best Buy carries a variety of air conditioners for every home and budget, but how do you decide which unit is right for you? Read on to find out more about air conditioners so you can be sure to get the best one for your home.

Types of Air Conditioners



These units are perhaps best suited for rooms that have double-hung, sliding, or casement windows. They’re designed to be easily installed, and offer a semi-permanent solution for any room in your home on those hot summer days.

Once installed, a window-mounted air conditioner can comfortably cool between 300 and 1600 square feet. Most models also feature handy controls and a remote that allows you to adjust the fan speed, temperature, and timer settings from across the room.



If you find yourself frequently moving from room to room, then a portable air conditioner is your best bet. Thanks to a set of wheels, you’ll have the freedom to roll a portable unit into any room you like and keep the cool while you work, play, or simply relax.

A portable air conditioner can typically cool a room up to 400 square feet in size. They boast many of the same features and remote control capabilities of their window-mounted counterparts, but since there’s no installation needed, you can start cooling off right out of the box. They’re also usually equipped with an internal bucket that collects condensed water, which you will need to empty from time to time.

Some models also come with a window exhaust kit for quick and easy setup.

Choosing the Right Size

When shopping for an air conditioner, you want to be sure that you’ve got the right size for your space. Too small and the unit will run non-stop; too large and it will not properly remove the humidity from the air making it feel damp. Choose an air conditioner that meets your room’s size needs and you’ll be sure to get the cool air you want without any humidity. Having the right size will also be energy-efficient too.

To determine the size you need, you'll want to:

1. Figure out the square footage area of the room you want to cool.

a. For square and rectangular rooms, simply multiply the length by the width. For example, a room 20 feet (length) x 15 feet (width) will be a total of 300 square feet in size.

b. For a triangular room, you will need to multiply the length of the area by the width and divide by 2. For example, if your room is 20 feet (length) x 15 feet (width), you simply divide that number by 2 (300/2) for a size of 150 square feet.

c. For odd shaped areas, you can break it into square, rectangular, and triangle shapes and use the same measurement calculations. Add the totals together, and you’ll figure out the square footage of any room.

2. Once you know the square footage of the room you want to cool, use this handy chart from ENERGY STAR to determine how many BTUs you’ll need your air conditioner to come with.

Square Foot Area to be Cooled Cooling Capacity Required (in BTUs)
100 to 150 5,000
150 to 250 6,000
250 to 300 7,000
300 to 350 8,000
350 to 400 9,000
400 to 450 10,000
450 to 500 11,000
500 to 550 12,000
550 to 700 14,000
700 to 1,000 18,000
1,000 to 1,200 21,000
1,200 to 1,400 23,000
1,400 to 1,500 24,000
1,500 to 2,000 30,000
2,000 to 2,500 34,000
Energy Star

Look for this symbol when shopping for an air conditioner and you’re sure to find a unit that comes loaded with energy-saving options so your air conditioner runs efficiently.

Common Features


Short for British Thermal Unit, this measurement expresses how much heat energy your air conditioner is capable of removing from a room. If your unit features 5,000 BTUs, then it is capable of removing that amount of heat energy from your room in order to keep it cool.

Quiet Operation

Most models are quieter than older units from back in the day. Fan speeds can be adjusted to make operation even more silent, but even at top speeds most units will cool your room quickly and without too much noise.

Easy Controls

Look for a unit with a digital display and controls for easy operation. With the simple push of a button you’ll be able to adjust the temperature, change the fan speed, and much more.

Fan Speed and Vents

Adjustable fan speeds and vents let you control how much air flows into the room. Movable vents even let you direct the air to where you need it most.


A built-in timer lets you set the unit to turn on or off as you need it. Keep your home cool before you get home from work, or have the air conditioner turn off after you’ve gone to bed to conserve energy.

Air Filter

Removable air filters are generally easy to clean and can help remove allergens and odours from the air in your home.


Some models feature a dehumidifier function, which you can use in the summer to reduce dampness in the air. In the winter, a humidifier function allows you to keep moisture in the air.

Remote Control

Adjust a variety of functions on your air conditioning unit without getting up from the couch.

Slide-out Chassis

Slide-out Chassis

In window-mounted models, a slide-out chassis makes installation and removal a cinch.


To ensure your air conditioner continues to run the most efficiently, you’ll want to clean it at the beginning of the season and every 2-3 weeks during heavy use. And before you store it away for the year, give it a quick clean to guarantee an easier clean the following season.

Best Buy

Take the Next Step

Once you’ve decided the size and type of air conditioner you need, check out the selection at your local Best Buy. You’re sure to find what you’re looking for to keep cool all summer long.