Picking the Best Air Conditioner for Your Apartment

Looking to cool down your apartment? With spring and summer approaching soon, it’s important to start thinking about how to prepare for those hotter months and stay cool. While many apartments come with built-in air conditioning (AC) units, many do not. So what are your options for cooling down your space? In this article, we’ll go into detail about how to decide what is the best air conditioner for your apartment.

How do air conditioners work to keep your apartment cool?

Air conditioners have been around for a very long time, in fact, the first air conditioning system was developed in 1902.The basics of how air conditioners work are similar to how a fridge works. Air conditioners use an internal refrigerating system to take in hot air and cool it. The hot air, absorbed by the AC unit through various coils and systems, turns into a gas. From there, the unit converts it back into a liquid.

Next, the hot air pushes out the back through vents or a window and the cool air pushes into your apartment. The website HowStuffWorks.com puts it very simply: “Think of it as an endless, elegant cycle: liquid refrigerant, phase conversion to a gas/heat absorption, compression and phase transition back to a liquid again.”

air conditioning

Important things to understand when selecting your AC unit

There are a couple of other things to consider when picking which type of AC unit to use for your apartment. You’ll want to consider things such as cooling capacity, BTUs, energy efficiency and costs.

BTUs

BTU or British thermal units is the amount of energy it takes to heat or cool one pound of water. For air conditioners specifically, the BTU refers to the amount of heat your unit can remove in an hour. Some units take more than others. For instance, a window unit takes anywhere from 3,000 to 25,000 BTUs, whereas a portable system can use anywhere from 8,000 to 12,000 BTUs. Make sure to take the time to research this before deciding on which unit is best for you. Learn Metrics has created a more in-depth chart for understanding different BTUs for different sized apartments.

Cooling capacity

When picking out your AC unit keep in mind its cooling capacity. The size of the area you want to cool will greatly impact your choice. Different units cool different area sizes. Take portable units for example — these are usually only able to cool the area they sit in. Window units on the other hand are a better option if you are looking to cool down an entire apartment.

Energy costs

The cost that it takes to run an AC unit is something else to consider. The price can greatly change depending on how big your unit is and how big of an area you’re trying to cool. On average it can cost anywhere from $14.40 per month to $211.20 to run different types of AC units.

Best air conditioner options for your apartment

Now you know how air conditioners work, how do you know which type is right for your apartment? Here are a couple of different options that you can choose from.

1. Portable air conditioner

Portable units are one option when looking for an AC unit. They come in various sizes and work in many different rooms. Often referred to as “portable swamp coolers” or “evaporated cooling” these two systems work similarly to other AC units but primarily rely on water. Another difference is their setup. For instance, some require their own voltage plug and most require you the ability to vent the hot air out of a window.

Another great question to ask when thinking about portable units is, “Can you use a portable air conditioner in an apartment?” The answer depends on your apartment complex and its rules. In certain apartments they are not allowed, so make sure to check with your apartment before you invest in one. Here are some pros and cons of portable AC units.

Pros:

  • Move room-to-room
  • Cost-efficient
  • Come in various sizes
  • Great if you have a strict HOA or landlord and can’t install a window unit

Cons:

  • Sometimes are less energy efficient
  • Can be noisy

AC unit in a window against a brick wall

2. Window units

Window units are very popular throughout Europe and make another great option for your apartment AC unit. Set in a window, they function much like other AC units and are capable of cooling medium-sized spaces. Here are some of their pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • Inexpensive
  • Come in various sizes to fit your windows
  • Can come with a heating system

Cons:

  • Not portable and stay in the window you place them in
  • Not energy efficient

3. Wall-mounted

Wall-mounted units are a great option for people who are living in older buildings that tend to get very hot during summer. Here are the pros and cons of these AC units.

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • Don’t take up a window or block the view
  • Energy efficient

Cons:

  • Don’t cool the whole space
  • Must be cleaned and maintained regularly

Happy woman holding a remote under an air conditioning unit

4. Personal AC unit

Personal AC units are great for cooling down a single person in a smaller space. They are typically very small — meant for bed stands or desks and are not meant to cool the entire space down. These typically only need a plug and water, however, they do not cool as well as bigger units. Here are their pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Great for personal use
  • Move from room-to-room
  • Easy to use and install

Cons:

  • Not energy efficient
  • Need cleaning after each use to avoid germ growth

Man with his face in front of a fan

How to keep your apartment cool without an AC unit

If none of these options work for you, there are other ways to keep yourself cool this summer. Here is a list of other options to consider:

  • Installing fans
  • Purchasing dark blinds to block the sun
  • Putting cooling sheets on your bed
  • Switching out your light bulbs to ones that produce less heat
  • Opening your windows at night
  • Cooking outside

Stay cool as a cucumber

While the summer heat is great for outdoor activities and vacations, it’s not so great for your apartment. Keeping your place cool throughout these hot months is essential. There is nothing worse than being uncomfortable in your own living space. The good news is there are many different options to consider when thinking about the best air conditioner for your apartment.

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