With temperatures quickly rising into the 90s this week, it’s definitely air conditioner weather. For some people, though, this time of year can be rough – without central cooling, a home can quickly go from a castle to an unbearable oven. Luckily, window unit air conditioners offer an easy and affordable way to keep smaller areas cool.
Window units often get a bad rap. It’s true, they’re not the prettiest cooling option out there, but they have actually come a long way since they were first created. Systems that used to be expensive and inefficient are now affordable and surprisingly kind to your electric bill. For people who are living in rental units, or trying to cool smaller spaces without access to a central air system, window units are a fantastic portable choice. Here are a few things you should keep in mind if you are considering this type of air conditioning for your space.
Window Units Come in Different Sizes
The first thing you should pay attention to when shopping for a window air conditioner is size. Just like with a ducted air conditioning system, size matters. Purchasing and installing an air conditioner that is calibrated to cool a particular size room is essential for efficiency and comfort. Buying a unit that is too small means that you will end up with a room that is still too hot while purchasing a unit that is too large means that you will spend more money than is necessary on energy costs.
When you research window units, look for the BTU measurement. The lower the measurement, the smaller the area the air conditioner will cool. Units measuring 8,000-10,000 BTUs will cool a room that is 150-250 square feet. Units over 14,000 BTUs will cool a room that is 500 square feet.
Window Units Are Easy to Install
While these units are heavy (usually over 50 lbs.), they aren’t particularly hard to install, especially on modern windows. If you are installing an air conditioner in a relatively new window, chances are installation will only take about a half-hour, if that. We wouldn’t consider this a one-person job, though. Having a second person on hand to support the weight of the air conditioner is very helpful at times!
If you have older windows, installing a window unit may be a little more difficult, but not impossible. Some modifications may have to be made to support the air conditioner in the window, but there are plenty of products out there to help solve any problem you may run into during installation. To keep your window unit as efficient as possible, try to insulate any gaps in the accordion filler.
Window Units Can Be Economical
For many years, it was common knowledge that window units used a lot of electricity for the cooling power produced. All of that has changed! Nowadays, most window air conditioners come with an Energy Star rating and cost surprisingly little to run. Also, many newer air conditioners include thermostats and other features that help to limit the amount of power used by the unit over the course of a day. Combine this with affordable purchase prices, and you have a cooling option that doesn’t cost nearly as much as the common lore might lead you to believe.
Window Units Require Love and Attention
Just like a central air conditioning system, window units need regular maintenance to remain efficient and continue to cool your home with ease. We say this for ducted systems, and we will say it for window units as well – clean your air filter! Depending on the type of window system you purchase, you may need to replace the air filter with a new one or clean the replaceable filter. When cleaning a reusable filter, be sure to use a simple solution of vinegar and water to reduce the risk of VOCs from strong cleaning products.
It is also important to make sure that the coils of the window unit are cleaned on a regular basis – it’s a good idea to do this before installing the unit for the first time each year. Again, this should be done with soap and water, not strong cleaning chemicals that could be spread through the air of your home.
Window Units Are Bulky…But That May Change Soon
One of the downfalls of window air conditioners is that, while their efficiency has increased over time, their design has barely changed at all. They continue to be bulky and a little cumbersome to easily move around. That could be about to change. A small company called Noria is trying to re-design window units to be much smaller and much more portable. Their unit is so small, in fact, that it can slide under a bed for storage. Will this be the wave of the future when it comes to small-space cooling? Only time will tell.