Three best window air conditioners
Central air conditioning isn't an option for everyone. Sometimes, you need a good window AC unit to keep you cool. A window AC unit might not be as expensive as central air, but it's an investment nonetheless. To get the most for your money, what features should you look for when shopping for a window air conditioner?
In the following guide, we explore the features you'll find in both budget AC units and high-end appliances. There's something for everyone in the world of window AC units; read on to learn what's right for you.
Considerations when choosing window AC units
BTU rating and energy efficiency
BTU rating is a good measuring stick for an air conditioner's total power and cooling ability. Notably, 5,000 BTUs or less can be anemic for larger spaces. You want to make sure you select an appliance with the appropriate BTU output for your space. That said, you should also know that an AC unit with a higher BTU rating consumes more power and will likely result in a higher energy bill.
But an air conditioner's BTU rating alone doesn't complete the picture of how efficient it is. To find that out, you'll need to determine its EER, or energy efficiency ratio. An AC unit's EER factors in both BTU output and wattage. When considering products, look for the EER number on the package or in the product specs. The greater the number, the more efficient the air conditioner; some of the best window air conditioning units have an EER of at least 12.
Cool window AC features
In addition to energy efficiency and cooling power, you may wish to seek a window AC unit with some other handy features. For instance, a unit with a timer can help save you cash because you won't have to leave the unit running from the moment you leave for work until you're ready to go to bed at night. You can pre-program the air conditioner to activate at a certain hour, thereby maximizing your energy dollars. A unit with a sleep timer is nice, too, because you won't have to worry about turning off your window unit before hitting the sack each night.
Other desirable features in a window AC unit include variable fan speed, a remote control, and quiet operation.
Variable fan speed: Variable fan speed allows you to tailor how quickly (or slowly) a room fills with cool air. Sometimes you want your space cooled off immediately, but other times, you might prefer a more gradual cool-down.
Remote control: Lots of today's window AC units come with one or two small remote controls you can use to turn the appliance on and off from a distance. If you intend to place your AC unit in a high window -- or if you simply like the idea of activating the air from the comfort of your seat on the couch -- a window AC unit with a remote control could be right for you. Bear in mind, however, that these remotes are usually pretty small ... and easy to lose.
Quiet operation: Perhaps this goes without saying, but most people prefer appliances that don't make a lot of noise. Unless you're looking for a window appliance to create some ambient white noise, we suggest an AC unit with a reputation for quiet operation. This holds especially true if you intend to install the unit in a bedroom or a spot where you'll be watching TV or studying.
Q. Should I invest a little more money in a window air conditioner with a digital thermostat?
A. That depends on how much control you want over the temperature of your room. Many high-end air conditioners have programmable digital thermostats that allow you to fine-tune the temperature of your space. If you're looking for a budget model, however, you can still get an AC unit with a good thermostat. However, it will probably be a mechanical thermostat that doesn't offer quite as much precision as a digital model.
Window AC units we recommend
Best of the Best: Frigidaire Window-Mounted Median Air Conditioner
Our take: A powerhouse window air conditioner that performs valuable functions beyond just cooling, such as air ionization, a sleep mode, and an energy-saving mode.
What we like: Powerful and efficient at 18,000 BTUs. This ENERGY STAR product can cool an area of over 1,000 square feet without problem. Creature comforts such as the timer and multiple airflow directions make this a luxury product.
What we dislike: It's pricey, and potential buyers should make sure they have an outlet that will support this product before investing.
Our take: This air conditioner from LG is powerful enough to cool a large common room or even a small apartment.
What we like: It has useful features such as auto restart, a timer, and a remote control, and it offers 12,000 BTUs of cooling power.
What we dislike: The unit itself may be too large for some windows. We recommend that you take measurements before placing your order.
Choice 3: SPT 12000-BTU Window Air Conditioner
Our take: This AC unit is built to last, and overall, it's definitely worth the investment.
What we like: It has all the controls you need to make a room comfortable, not just colder. We appreciate the timer and fan speed options as well as the 12,000-BTU output.
What we dislike: Its operational noise could be a drawback for some consumers.
Melissa Nott is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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