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Window Air Conditioners

May 23, 2008  |  Difficulty: Easy

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Window air conditioners have been purposed to cool one room or space at a time. As the name denotes, many of these portable units are built specifically to fit in a window and pull air in from the outside. Window air conditioners are made to fit in both double-hung windows and narrow, vertical windows (although this is more difficult). The other type of portable air conditioner is the ’through-the-wall’ or wall-mountable model. These units are sealed into an external wall (they are common in hotels).


First and foremost, decide what size unit is appropriate for the space.  Remember, bigger is not always better. Even with a good efficiency rating, a machine not sized properly to the room is prone to operate with difficulty, drain more electricity, reduce user comfort, worsen air quality and break down.

Air conditioner size is actually a measurement of the unit’s cooling capacity using British Thermal Units (or BTUs). To determine the necessary size, calculate the ceiling height, the climate’s humidity, square footage of the space to be cooled, number and placement of windows, and the number of people that will frequently reside in the space.

In the last ten years, window air conditioners have seen peak technological advances that make them much more efficient. Federal agencies now require a minimum EER (energy efficiency ratio) of 9.7% for units below 8000 BTU, and 9.8% for units with an 8000 to 13,999 BTU. The EER is calculated by dividing the BTU per hour into the wattage the unit demands. Higher EER ratings signify better efficiency.

Many manufacturers offer air conditioners that go beyond federal standards. Popular Energy Star air conditioners perform an additional 10% higher than government requirements. High efficiency air conditioners cost more upon purchase, but these units are bound to save money over time (by significantly reducing energy bills).

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