Consumer Reports: Choosing the best window AC unit

(Source: WGCL)

If you don't have central air, or even if you do and just need some extra cooling in a room in your home, Consumer Reports says the right window air conditioner can get the job done.

"When we're testing air conditioners we want to know how well they're going to cool your space," says Consumer Reports AC Tester Chris Regan.

Consumer Reports groups air conditioners into three main sizes based on BTUs and the size of the room you need to cool -- which you'll also find listed on most air conditioners.

SMALL ACs are best for 100 to 300 square-foot-rooms; MEDIUM for 250-400 square-foot-rooms and LARGE ACs should cool 350-650 square-foot-rooms.

None of that matters if the air conditioner doesn't perform well. That's why in Consumer Reports special lab, window air conditioners must lower the temperature inside it's chamber to a set point of 75 degrees.

Sounds easy but testers challenge the air conditioners to cool a room that's 90 degrees with nearly 60 percent humidity.

Another factor in CR's scoring -- an accurate thermostat.

"How accurate that thermostat is saves you money. If the air conditioner is thinking that it's still trying to hit 75 degrees even though it's actually at a room temperature of 71 degrees, it is running longer than it needs to and wasting electricity," says Regan.

The best air conditioners in Consumer Reports tests can cool a room in about fifteen minutes or less, keep the temperature consistent and the best part -- they don't necessarily cost more money either.

Consider a $200 Amana for a smaller, 100-300 square-foot room.

For a medium-sized room Consumer Reports recommends a $250 GE available at Lowes, and for rooms at least 350 to 650 square feet, a $350 LG is a winner.

Consider an AC with a programmable setting, timer or WiFi-enabled unit so you can come home to a cool house.

Cleaning the filter once a month will also save you money in the long run.

Copyright 2018 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Investigative Reporter

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