Colorado is often thought of as a state that doesn’t have to deal with the scorching heat of other states. The elevation, proximity to the Rocky Mountains, and regular cloud coverage keep the temperature significantly lower than places like Miami or Phoenix. So, you might ask, “Do you need air conditioning in Colorado?”
The quick answer is … it depends.
With summer temperatures routinely in the 80s and 90s, you’d think that air conditioning is a necessity here. But it’s not. Here are reasons why you can safely skip the A/C.
It may be tempting to assume that you need air conditioning just because other parts of the country have it. But remember that most of them have a much more humid climate than Colorado does—it’s easy to forget when we’re used to seeing people wearing shorts year round. We don’t typically see that level of humidity here; the air is drier and typically stays at around 70% relative humidity (drier than desert areas!). Also, summer evening temperatures can get as low as 50 degrees. Since Manitou Springs is somewhat sheltered from the sun by surrounding mountains, it tends to be cooler.
In recent history, the temperature has topped 94 degrees in Manitou Springs. Also, it’s not humid, so dry-skin sufferers can be miserable when trying to run errands or even just walk your dog before sunset (even if you pack an umbrella). The high elevation of Manitou Springs puts you closer to the sun. So, the sun’s rays are hotter on your home at higher altitude. And if you don’t have window tinting, those hot summer sun rays can blast right into your home and heat it up.
So do you need air conditioning in Colorado? It depends on how you define “need.” Like many things with your home and lifestyle, there are very reasonable ways to go about managing air conditioning needs here—you just have to decide if they’re worth it for you.
In general, you can get away without air conditioning in your Manitou Springs home. In the 1980s, almost no one had air conditioning. However, average summer temperatures have gotten hotter recently. And older homes may not have the best air circulation. Larger homes can also have issues with trapped heat. More homes are being built higher on the mountainside exposing it more to direct sunlight. In those cases, homeowners often elect to install air conditioning.
How to Buy Air Conditioning for Your Home
Buying air conditioning is easy if you know what to look for and some of the tricks that will help you get the best deal. Lets start with the basic facts about air conditioning:
Air conditioners have two main components: a compressor, which pumps refrigerant through coils and cools the air, and a fan, which pushes the cooled air through the rest of your house. The more energy efficient you are in using your air conditioner, the more money you will save on your electric bill. Some tips to help make this happen include keeping your curtains or blinds closed during hot days so your air conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard to cool the air in your home. It’s also important to make sure that all of your windows are sealed tightly so that there are no leaks. If you live in an area where storms are common during summer months, it’s especially important to make sure that your windows and doors are in good working order before turning on your AC unit.
But what if you need a new AC? There are several major brands available (Trane, Carrier, Bryant). There are basically two types of air conditioners: central and window. Central air conditioners must be installed by a professional. Window units can often be installed by yourself.
Window and portable units are designed to cool down a small room or area. These units are generally more affordable and easier to install, but they may not be able to keep up with larger spaces. Central air conditioning systems are designed to cool down an entire house or building. These systems have ductwork set up throughout your home and usually have multiple vents where you can control how cooled air is distributed throughout your space.
How Big of an Air Conditioner Do I Need?
Btu/h ratings are a measure of the amount of heat an air conditioner can remove from one square foot in one hour (or the number of British Thermal Units that could be removed from one square foot in one hour if there were no heat loss). The higher the Btu/h rating, the more powerful the machine is at removing heat. A bigger, more powerful unit will cost you more money to operate, but it’s ideal for areas that get much hotter than others.