Consumer Reports: Best window air conditioners

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Want to be really cool this summer? Consumer Reports just rated window air conditioners and reveals some top models that won't break your budget when the summer heat rises. (WLS)

Want to be really cool this summer? Consumer Reports just rated window air conditioners and reveals some top models that won't break your budget when the summer heat rises.

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," said Chris Regan, Consumer Reports AC tester.

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- to 400-square-foot rooms, and large ACs should cool 350- to 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 this 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 Consumer Reports' scoring is 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," Regan said.

The best air conditioners in Consumer Reports' tests can cool a room in about 15 minutes or less, keep the temperature consistent and - the best part - they don't necessarily cost more money either.

Consider the $200 Amana for a smaller, 100- to 300-square-foot room. For a medium-sized room, Consumer Reports recommends the $250 GE available at Lowes. For rooms at least 350- to 650-square-feet, the $350 LG is a winner.

Consumer Reports says consider an AC with a programmable setting, timer or a WiFi enabled unit so you can come home to a cool house.

Remember, whether you're buying a new air conditioner this year or maintaining an older one, be sure to clean the filter once a month. The cleaner the filter, the less work it has to do and the longer it will run, which will save you money.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2018 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org
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