Window Air Conditioner Buying Guide: 10 Features to Look For

by Shelley Frost
window ac unit

You expect to sweat when you hit the hiking trail or do some manual labor in the backyard, but you want to stay cool and comfortable inside your home.

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A window air conditioner is an effective way to cool a single room or small part of your home.

What Features Should You Look for When You're Shopping for a Window Unit?

Window AC units all work the same way, but they have a lot of differences, including size and power. The extra features they have can also vary significantly. The following factors can help you choose.

Window AC Cooling Power

A window AC unit is usually designed to cool one room. It's not a whole-house cooling solution. However, the amount of space the unit will cool depends on its size and power. Window air conditioner units have the BTU ratings listed to help you choose. Higher BTU ratings offer more cooling power, which means they can cool larger spaces.

Here are some general guidelines for sizing your AC unit based on the square footage of the room:

  • 100 to 250 square feet: 5,000 to 6,500 BTUs
  • 250 to 350 square feet: 7,000 to 8,500 BTUs
  • 350 to 550 square feet: 9,800 to 12,500 BTUs

Window AC packaging often lists the recommended room size, which can also help you choose. To get the square footage of the room, measure the length and width of the room and multiply the numbers. Choose a window AC unit that fits the size of your room to make it as efficient as possible. Undersized units will have to work harder and run almost constantly to cool the room. Oversized air conditioners will cycle on and off quickly, which makes it difficult for the AC to remove humidity from the air.

Installation Requirements

You'll find window units in a wide range of sizes. The size affects how easy it is to carry and install the appliance and the fit in your window. Check the specifications of the unit to find out the required window dimensions for the AC to fit. You need your window opening to be larger than the air conditioner. If it doesn't fit the full width of the window, you can use the side curtains that come with it to cover the remaining window opening.

Smart Features

If you're a fan of smart home devices, look for a window AC unit that connects to Wi-Fi and has smart capabilities. These units often connect to an app that lets you change the settings, update programmed schedules and monitor the cooling equipment from a mobile device, even if you're not at home. Some ACs also connect to your voice-activated home assistant device. This lets you give voice commands to control the air conditioner.

Energy Efficiency

A window air conditioner draws a lot of power to cool your room effectively. It needs a dedicated circuit to avoid overloading your system. Choosing an energy-efficient model can help reduce how much electricity you use to cool your home. The easiest way to get an efficient AC is by looking for the Energy Star label. They beat the government regulations for energy use. You can also check the energy efficiency ratio (EER) rating for each option you're considering. A higher number indicates a more efficient machine.

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AC units can range from a few simple setting options to a complex collection of buttons for more control. Check out the control options to make sure they seem easy to use. If it looks too confusing, look for a simpler model. Digital display screens make it easy to check your settings. You might also look for a model that comes with a remote control. This lets you change the settings or turn the unit on and off without getting out of bed or up from your seat.

Additional Features

You can find air conditioners with a wide range of extra features that are nice to have but not necessary. Some of those things include:

  • Programmable timers: If you want to save power, choose a programmable AC unit that will automatically adjust based on the schedule you choose.
  • Sleep mode: You can find some units with sleep settings that gradually decrease the setting at night. This option is an energy-saving mode that can reduce your utility bills.
  • Filter alerts: Window AC units include air filters, which you need to clean occasionally. Some models include a filter alert to let you know when it's time to clean it.
  • Thermostats: Basic units often have different cooling levels, but they don't show temperatures. Air conditioners with thermostats let you choose a specific temperature and the unit cools to that temperature.
  • Easy-access filters: Choosing an option with easily accessible filters makes cleaning easier. Look for slide-out filters for the most convenient option.

Keep in mind that any extra features a window AC has will likely increase the price. Establish your budget before you start shopping to avoid getting carried away with extra features you don't really need. Consider how important the extra features are to help you balance convenience with the price.

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