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Air Conditioning

The heat is rising in the run up to the full heat of summer and there’s nothing we want more during the midday sun than to feel a little cooler. Air conditioning units are a must-have for your apartment or home, and alternatives, such as electrical fans, don’t really cut the mustard as they tend to simply aerate the warm, fuggy air. Air conditioning commonly refers to the cooling of a room, but in a broader sense, the term encompasses anything that improves the condition of the air, such as disinfecting, dehumidifying, heating and circulating.

Air cooling systems in air conditioners are basically small refrigerators without the insulation box. The compressor inside compresses a chemical gas, which makes it hot and high pressured. The heated gas runs through a network of coils where it condenses into a liquid, then as this liquid, it runs through an expansion valve where it becomes a cold gas again. The cold gas runs through another set of coils and absorbs heat, which in turn cools the air inside a room. If you have non-opening windows, which is quite common in Bulgaria, then the ventilation systems on air conditioners help to ensure the air inside a room doesn’t become stale; which is ideal for smokers.

Most modern units have various changeable settings, so once the balmy summer evenings start cooling down you can switch the mode and pump heated air into the room as well. Most people find this a suitable alternative to gas-powered heating or log burners, as the former can rarely be found and the latter can be quite high maintenance. When an air conditioner is set to heat, the temperature can also be regulated and set to say, 25 degrees. The unit will sense if the room is under or over this temperature and alter the air flow accordingly. If you have an open door or window, this can drastically affect the way the unit works, and some units will shut down if they sense alternative heating or cooling factors. This means ensuring you shut that door or window if you want the unit to function at its best. It is very important to buy the right size and wattage unit to effectively condition the air in your room. To maintain comfortable cooling and dehumidification, the unit must be proportionate to the room that. Air con units are usually sized in tons, with one ton cooling 12,000 BTUs per hour, but many of the newer units cool fewer than 12,000 BTUs per ton. You need 12,000 BTUs of cooling for each 500 square feet of living space, assuming that you have standard sized ceilings (around 8 foot), that your windows cover less than 20% of southern facing walls, that you have full insulation, and that you have curtains or blinds to shield against extreme weather, like the midday sun or midnight freezes. The best thing to do to ensure you get it right is to have a technician at one of the stores assess your floor plan and advise you accordingly. Often, the technician will come out and assess the rooms that need conditioning and make recommendations.

By and large, when it comes down to the important issue of efficiency, it’s worth shopping around. Initially, a more energy efficient unit will cost more, but in the long term, it will save you money as it requires less fuel to function. Electricity prices in Bulgaria are not overly cheap, and they are also due another hike this year, so you can save in the long-term by being energy efficient. Cheaper units may be a category C or D, meaning your electricity bills will be higher than if you spend more on your preliminary purchase by buying a category A or B unit. Cooling competence for air conditioners is specified by a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating). The SEER rating will indicate to you how efficiently a unit uses electricity by displaying a higher number for greater efficiency, or in most Bulgaria stores, a letter rating of A or B. Since around 1992, a minimum cooling efficiency standard for units was established at 10.0 SEER. High efficiency units have a rating of at least 12.0 SEER, and all numbers falling below that will hike up the inefficiency even further. When you buy an aircon unit, you need to have it fitted in order for the guarantee to be valid. Most standard guarantees provide an annual service for five years, plus any repairs that need undertaking in the meantime. Upon purchase, you need to pay extra for the installation, depending on the size of the unit, and also the transport costs. You cannot undertake the installation yourself as it involves gas compression work that requires certification. It is also worth thinking about where you want both your internal unit inside your house, as well as the large external unit, and mark it our clearly pre-installation. Air con fitters in Bulgaria have a tendency to hang them anywhere without proper thought of aesthetics or function; just take a look at some of the haphazard hangings that you see in shops and restaurants! Units are best placed away from open windows, central to the room, around 3 meters up on the wall. The external unit is quite bulky and cumbersome, and can also drip excess water and be a bit noisy, so it’s best not to have it on a wall facing your patio area or on your balcony. Most air conditioners operate at 8 to 9 decibels, with the quietist operating at 6.8. Consider these levels if you are likely to be driven mad by a noisy unit.

Around most towns and cities you will find various independent outlets for air con units, as well as chain stores, which stock a wide variety, such as Technopolis, Technomarket and Zora. Prices are similar between these stores, but it’s still worth shopping around as some stores do special offers from time to time. Examples of units include 699 for a low SEER Daikin unit for a small room, up to a high SEER, large Hitchachi unit for 2,000 leva. The units in the shops are displayed alongside a card which will tell you wattage, estimated decibels, SEER, and sometimes even estimated stotinka per minute to run. Don’t be daunted by the thought of obtaining the right unit for your home, most stores are extremely helpful and our helpful hints have hopefully shown you the way to staying cool this summer!