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What You Need To Know About Using A Window AC Alongside Central Air

If you already have a central air conditioning system but are contemplating the addition of a window air conditioner, it’s a common predicament that many homeowners face. However, fret not! We have conducted thorough research to aid you in making an informed decision.

Rest assured, you can indeed use a window air conditioner in conjunction with your central air conditioning system. While having a window unit readily available can be advantageous in certain situations, it’s crucial to avoid potential pitfalls if not done correctly.

Discover the advantages and disadvantages of incorporating a small window air conditioner alongside your larger central AC unit. By the end of this article, you’ll possess ample knowledge to navigate the window and central AC predicament. Let’s dive in!

Why Should You Consider Using A Window AC When You Already Have Central Air Conditioning?

Acquiring a window air conditioner for specific rooms is a prudent investment that pays off in the long run, ensuring both savings and enhanced comfort. Here are a few reasons why having a window AC in your home is beneficial:

What You Need To Know About Using A Window AC Alongside Central Air
  1. Energy Savings With A Window AC
    Depending on its size, a window air conditioner typically consumes between 500 and 1,500 watts while a central air conditioner for a 1,500 to 2,000 square foot home utilizes around 3,500 watts. By using the window unit when the weather cools or when you’re alone at home, you can reduce electricity consumption and save money.
  2. Cooling Unreachable Areas
    If certain rooms in your house tend to feel warmer than others, installing a window unit in those spaces can effectively eliminate the problem. Additionally, warm rooms may result from open windows, closed vents, dirty filters, or clogged ducts. It’s important to check for these issues to avoid the unnecessary use of an extra air conditioner.
  3. Focused Cooling For Occupied Spaces
    When a room requires quick cooling, a window AC can achieve the desired temperature within approximately 15 minutes due to its rapid response. However, it’s important to exercise caution and refrain from running three or more window ACs simultaneously in place of the central unit, as multiple window units consume more power than a single central AC.

Choosing The Right Window Unit For Your Room Size

Selecting a window air conditioner that matches your room’s size ensures maximum efficiency for the designated space. The unit’s cooling capacity is measured in BTU (British Thermal Units) per hour.

Window units are available in various cooling power options, ranging from 5,000 to 12,500 BTUs/hr. As a general rule, allocate 20 BTUs per square foot of room area.

An undersized window AC won’t sufficiently cool the room and may consume more energy as the compressor continuously runs to attain the desired cooling level. Conversely, an oversized window unit can make the room excessively cold, leading to uneven dehumidification and the formation of warm and cold pockets.

The following are the recommended BTU ranges from Consumer Reports based on room square footage:

  • 100 – 250 sq ft space: 5,000 – 6,000 BTU (bedroom; playroom)
  • 250 – 350 sq ft space: 7,000 – 8,000 BTU (primary bedroom; playroom)
  • 350 – 550 sq ft space: 9,800 – 12,500 BTU (living room; family room; open plan)

Efficient Usage Tips For Your Window AC

Employing your window air conditioner efficiently benefits both your finances and the environment. Follow these guidelines to optimize comfort, avoid costly malfunctions, and reduce energy consumption:

What You Need To Know About Using A Window AC Alongside Central Air
  1. Regularly Clean The Air Filters
    The air filter in your AC captures germs, dust, pet dander, and pollen, ensuring clean conditioned air and safeguarding your health. Dirty filters not only pose a risk to your well-being but also reduce the unit’s efficiency and increase energy costs. Make it a habit to clean or replace the air filter, following the U.S. Department of Energy’s recommendation of cleaning it every two months or more frequently if you have pets or during pollen season.
  2. Avoid Extreme Temperature Swings On The Thermostat
    Running the AC at maximum cooling capacity during hot and humid months can significantly inflate your utility bill, while also straining the compressor and potentially causing it to malfunction. To maintain comfort and efficiency, it’s advisable to set your AC to 78°F when you’re at home and 85°F when you’re away.
  3. Yearly Cleaning Of Evaporator And Condenser Coils
    While the air filter protects the AC coils from dust and dirt, these components will eventually accumulate debris, particularly in dusty environments or areas with abundant foliage. Dirty coils obstruct airflow and compromise the unit’s heat-absorbing ability, reducing overall efficiency.
  4. Smart Thermostat Integration
    Automated and programmable thermostats eliminate the need for constant adjustment and allow you to set desired temperatures based on your occupancy status or sleep schedule. These smart controllers have been proven to reduce electric bills by up to 25%.

Drawbacks Of Using A Window AC

Despite the appealing features of window air conditioners, there are several challenges worth considering. Familiarize yourself with these common concerns:

  1. Tricky Installation For Swing-Out Casement Or Sliding Windows
    Installing a window air conditioner becomes more complex if you have swing-out casement or sliding windows. While double-hung windows (with two movable sashes) are the most common type in the U.S., installing a window AC in other window configurations requires additional effort and expertise. Manufacturers offer specialized units for these windows, albeit at a higher cost. Always adhere to the manufacturer’s installation instructions and seek assistance when lifting and installing the heavy appliance to prevent injuries or accidental dropping.
  2. Removal Of Window AC For Storage
    During colder months, it’s necessary to remove the window air conditioner from its mounting position and store it until warmer weather returns. If left exposed, the coils and internal components of the unit can freeze and sustain damage, rendering the AC inoperable. To prevent this, enlist the help of another person to safely slide and lift the unit inwards and place it in a storage box in the attic or basement. Keep all screws, brackets, and associated items in a clear plastic bag and store them alongside the unit.
  3. Building Regulations On Window ACs
    Before installing a window air conditioner, verify the regulations set by your building or residence. Some condos, apartments, or housing communities prohibit the use of window AC units for aesthetic reasons, as the protruding backside of the air conditioners can be considered unsightly.
  4. Security Risks with Window AC Units
    Window air conditioners installed on the ground floor of a house can potentially serve as an entry point for burglars, as these units are relatively easy to remove from the exterior. It’s essential to consider the security implications and take necessary precautions.

Using A Window Air Conditioner Without A Window: Is it Possible?

What You Need To Know About Using A Window AC Alongside Central Air

If you desire to supplement your central air conditioner with a window unit but lack a suitable window, you have a few options to explore:

  1. Cut a Hole In The Wall
    If you already possess a window unit, one possibility is to create a hole in the wall and install the AC there. Keep in mind that this would be a permanent installation, as removing the unit would leave a hole in the wall.
  2. Opt For A Portable AC
    Portable air conditioners provide a viable solution for rooms without windows or in residences where window AC installation is prohibited. These standalone units are suitable for cooling smaller spaces and come equipped with wheels for easy mobility between rooms. All portable AC units include a window kit for venting warm air outside, along with the removal of moisture from the atmosphere.

In Conclusion

By utilizing a window air conditioner in conjunction with your central air conditioning system and employing prudent usage practices, you can maintain energy efficiency, enhance comfort, and contribute to environmental protection.

What You Need To Know About Using A Window AC Alongside Central Air

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Written by HVAC Contributor

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