Should I Use Window AC Units?
  • Posted on July 19, 2018
  • By Rod Miller

As the summer heat rolls in, you may find yourself considering an upgrade to your air conditioning – or even an entirely new system. And as you do, you may wonder: could I get by with window AC units?

We’re glad you asked. Here’s our answer.

Why Window Units May Work for You

While we don’t recommend window units as long-term solutions, they do have their uses in certain situations. Here are a few reasons a window unit may work for you.

You need a quick solution.

We’ve all been here: when the central AC unit goes out in the middle of a summer heat wave, the prospect of waiting for a repair – or a full installation – feels undoable.

When you need quick relief, window units can come in handy. They’re essentially plug and play, meaning that minimal setup is required. And they’re almost certainly stocked at your local hardware store, so there’s minimal wait time as you work to beat the heat.

In these cases, window AC units are ideal short-term solutions.

You only need cooling in a small space.

There’s another scenario where window AC units may suffice: when cooling is only needed in a small or sectioned area.

If you’ve lived in an apartment, you may have run into this solution. Window AC units can adequately cool rooms or even entire smaller spaces. In some cases, they can function as a longer-term solution for one or two bedroom living quarters.

You don’t often need AC.

If you live in a climate where AC is rarely needed – perhaps in the far north, or at a high elevation – window units may be an effective solution.

But, let’s face it: for our clients in Maryland, this definitely isn’t the case.

Your building wasn’t built with AC, and you don’t want to put in ductwork.

Finally, many homeowners of houses built without AC are hesitant to install the ductwork that central air systems require. It’s understandable – in some older homes, there are even structural or architectural considerations that would make doing so difficult.

In these cases, window units may work as a solution. It is worth noting, though, that if you don’t want to disturb your building but want the most effective solution, ductless units are probably the better choice.

Why Window Units May Be the Wrong Choice

The reality is that, most of the time, window units aren’t the best choice. Here are a few reasons to go with other solutions instead.

You want a solution that’s efficient.

Window units simply aren’t as efficient as other solutions. That’s because window units function by cooling existing air in a room, and then blowing it via a fan. It’s old technology. The effect is similar to what you’d achieve by placing a fan in front of an open freezer.

At the end of the day, it works, but there are better methods – both in terms of energy cost and the effectiveness of the temperature control.

You want a solution that lasts.

Window units also aren’t built to last as long as other solutions. This may be surprising; half of the units you see look like they’re ancient. And they may be, especially if they’re not often used (frequency of use affects how many years window units last).

But, if you’re regularly cooling your home, window units won’t last nearly as long as a central unit. They’re built to be plug and play, not to stand the test of time.

You don’t want excessive humidity.

Because of the method by which window AC units cool the air in a building, they cause inconsistency in humidity levels. Window AC units mean more humidity.

That’s because you’re not removing any air from the room; you’re only making existing air cold and then blowing it around from one spot. Additionally, leakages in the sealing around the window result in humidity variations, too.

Central air units, alternatively, distribute air evenly throughout a home, contributing to steady humidity levels.

You want an air conditioning solution that’s aesthetically pleasing.

Okay, this one’s admittedly shallow – but it’s hard to deny that window units aren’t a great look, especially on older buildings. They’re fairly obtrusive, and they often don’t mesh well with architectural styles.

Additionally, the condensation they collect will leak below wherever they’re installed, potentially causing landscaping problems or even exterior damage.

Finally, they’re almost always loud, which can be difficult for light sleepers.

Aesthetically, there’s no getting around the fact that window units aren’t great. Other options are much subtler.

The Bottom Line

Here’s the truth: window units are a great short-term solution. They’re the perfect fix when the AC goes out. Rarely, though, are they a great long-term one.

If you’re looking into long-term AC options, there are better, more efficient solutions on the market than window units.

If you’re considering a change in your AC systems, get in touch with us. At Rod Miller, we’ll work to understand your HVAC needs, and we’ll provide solutions with trustworthy, dependable service.

Whether you choose ductless systems, central air, or another option, our promise, always, is that you can trust your home or business to us.

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