Window air-conditioner units are a reliable and simple-to-install solution to keep a room cool while avoiding the costly construction of a central air system. Better yet, when the summer heat dies down, these units can be easily removed for storage, and you can use the windowsill for other purposes.
Check out this list of popular window air-conditioners and keep reading for the basics on how to install one.
Size the Room
Window AC units come in various sizes and cooling capacities, and it is important to choose the one that best fits the needs of the room. Check the square footage of the room you need to cool and match that to a window AC unit. If the room is unusually hot or cool, you can adjust the air-conditioner cooler capacity accordingly.
Other factors that affect the performance of an air-conditioner are number of people in the room and how large the doorways are into other spaces.
Check Your Window
Most units are meant to fit in double-hung windows, but there are models designed for casement windows as well. When choosing a window to place the air conditioner in, keep fire safety in mind. An air conditioner can block egress in the event of a fire, especially if the unit is in a room with only one window.
Consider Energy Efficiency
Air conditioners are rated for energy efficiency. The EER (energy efficiency rating) ranges from 8 to 11.5. 10 or higher is ideal for saving electricity (and lowering your bills). Look for features such as digital temperature controls, variable fan speeds, and sleep settings, which help conserve power.
Installing a window air-conditioner is best done with two people. These units can be heavy and awkward, and the last thing you want is for your AC unit to fall out of the window or on your floor.
Installation is easiest with a double-hung windows. Most air-conditioner units will come with a kit that includes window extensions and mounting brackets. These will ensure an air-tight fit and help secure the window. It's best to pre-fit all attachments onto your window before drilling any holes.
Start by raising the lower pane and place the unit in the windowsill. Don't release it until you know it is solidly in place. If your windowsill isn't wide enough to support the air-conditioner, you can buy a that attaches to the underside of the unit and your exterior wall. Next, slide out the unit's extensions to fill the empty window space. Then, level the unit according to the manufacturer's instructions. Most air-conditioner models should tip slightly to the outside to drain condensation. However, keep in mind that some units may not be designed to tilt.
Fasten the unit to the brackets or lower the window pane onto the unit to lock it into place. Most models will have you secure the upper windowpane into place to prevent movement. Next, secure the extensions to the window jamb. Finally, seal the unit. On the inside, use weatherstripping provided by the manufacturer; on the outside, use calk around the perimeter to ensure a good seal.
If you can't get a good seal, consider using plywood boards to help seal or fit an unusual opening that the ACs extenders will not fill, or keep shopping for a unit that has long enough extenders.
Power It Up
Air conditioners can use a lot of power, so keep in mind the circuit you are connecting the unit to. If the same circuit powers other high-energy appliances—refrigerators, dryers, vacuums—consider plugging it in elsewhere. The cord's package should say either "air-conditioner cord" or "major-appliance cord." These cords are rated for the heavy current draw that an air conditioner will impose. Use the shortest cord that will do the job. Check the air filter once a month when in use and make sure it is always clear of obstructions.
Removal for Storage
Removing a window air-conditioner unit can be difficult, so unless you really need access to the window or want to create a better seal in the winter, it's best to leave it in place. If you really need to remove it, then start by unfastening the unit and pulling it out from the window. Make sure you don't lose any of the hardware or weatherstripping. Store it upright away from any potential moisture or corrosive chemicals.