Once again, winter has turned to spring, and soon enough, spring will make way for summer. As temperatures outside rise, temps inside can become stifling — especially if you don’t have a reliable way to cool your space.
A window air conditioner is a popular choice for keeping a room comfortable when warm weather hits, and you might be wondering if this solution is right for you. Here are a few pros and cons for window A/C units as well as some alternatives you might consider.
Before getting into the pros and cons of a window A/C, it might be prudent to explore your other options. Ignoring fans, which might provide the sensation of cool air but do little to combat stifling heat and humidity to the same degree as a dedicated A/C, there are three potential alternatives to a window unit:
Wall-mounted A/C. Instead of mounting a unit in a window, you might mount your A/C unit in the wall. Wall units are more permanent than window units because they require cutting a hole through the exterior wall. As such, wall units are often a bit more robust, capable of cooling more efficiently than window units, especially when the wall A/C is attached to an outdoor compressor.
Portable A/C. Portable A/C units sit on the floor of the room you want to cool, pulling in warm air and dispersing cool air. Instead of being mounted to the window or wall, portable A/Cs can be freestanding, working to cool whatever air around them, or they can be connected to the outside via ductwork leading to a window or wall. When the hot season ends, a portable A/C is easy to wheel into a closet or otherwise remove from your living space.
Central A/C. Homes with central air conditioning have ductwork built into the ceiling or walls and a large, permanent A/C unit somewhere on the property. Central A/C is incredibly efficient, but it is also expensive and sometimes impossible to install.
With these alternatives in mind, we can jump into the pros and cons of window units, specifically:
Affordable. Window A/Cs are on the low end of the cost spectrum for air conditioning. This is because window units tend to be smaller and come with fewer features than other types of A/Cs. Fortunately, this makes window-mounted air conditioning a viable option for those with low budgets who need cooling fast.
Easy to install. Most window units are as easy to use as opening a window, sliding the unit onto the ledge and plugging it in. Though you will need to secure the unit in the window to prevent it from falling out and causing damage, you can probably install a window A/C in a matter of minutes. This, again, helps to lower cost because it means you don’t need to pay a professional service provider to put in your unit, unlike a wall unit or central air might require.
Unobtrusive. Window A/C units do take up a small amount of window space, potentially lowering natural light slightly within a space. However, compared to other A/C options, window units are the least conspicuous. Unlike portable units, you don’t need to make floor space for a window A/C, and unlike most wall-mounted A/Cs, you don’t need to find outdoor space for a compressor. This makes a window unit ideal for small spaces.
Restrictive. The main downside to window A/C units is that they can only be installed in windows. Unlike portable A/Cs, which can move from room to room with you, your window unit stays put in whichever window it fits. This might mean that you will need to purchase a few window units to cool multiple rooms in your home, or it might mean that you will have to spend the bulk of the summer months in one space.
Potentially hazardous. There are plenty of horror stories about improperly secured window A/Cs falling from high-up floors and causing damage to things (or people) on the pavement below. If you live in a second story or higher, you need to take extra precautions to ensure that your window unit isn’t a hazard to passers-by. If you don’t want to take any risks with regards to installation or damage, you might opt for a more permanent air conditioning solution and a professional installer.
As the weather warms, you might be looking for ways to keep your home cool. A window A/C unit is an inexpensive, fast and functional way for almost everyone to survive the summer months.