If you are like me, then the summer time just brings the uncomfortable heat and sweat.  Since I am not a child anymore and don’t have work off for the summer, I am just not a fan.  I can’t drive my Jeep Wrangler around like I can in the spring or fall because it is just too hot when I have to stop.  If I had the money, I would get a summer home in the mountains of North Carolina.  The humidity is much less there and that is what gets to me the most.

As I stated in my Sunday roundup, my air conditioner broke last week, so I was without cooling air for a whole week.  Now, since I love to DIY, I decided to look into the problem and I was able to get the A/C to work here and there.  It still didn’t work very long, but it did get the house cooler than it was.  Luckily, the repair service came out and finally fixed the problem on Monday, so that is always nice.  I write this now with cool air streaming down from my registers.  Ah, it is nice!

Ok, I got off on a little tangent there, so here is the real story.  When my wife and I bought our house, we slowly realized that the A/C unit that they installed was way too small for the size of our home.  We should have a dual zone system with two units, but we only have one trying to cool down our whole house.  It is extremely inefficient to say the least.  Every year when summer came, I had to budget in the extreme increase in cost.  I realize that it is more expensive in the summer time, but it shouldn’t be this much.  We do have a programmable thermostat, so that has helped.

Rethinking Our Cooling Strategy

Our programmable thermostat  has the schedule that works for our family.  I can control it 4 times a day and 7 days a week.  It works well, but I needed more.  My wife and I can handle a little warmer days and evenings, but when it is time to sleep, we like it cold.  We sleep much better with cold temperatures.  We are both extremely warm blooded if that is even a thing.

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Having said this, we just couldn’t afford to keep our home that cool at night.  Since our system was inefficient, it would constantly be turning on and off to keep the temperature at the place we set it.  It wasn’t good on the system and surely wasn’t good on the wallet.  We needed to make a change and the only thing that came to mind was to increase the temperature.  We tried it for a few weeks and just ended up with less sleep and that turns into two cranky adults.  No me gusta!

window air conditionerEnter the Window A/C Unit

So, with less sleep and more attitude, I decided to jump on the internet and find a solution.  A couple of searches and hours of reading, I stumbled across putting up a window air conditioning unit into our bedroom.  This was an inexpensive (relative) solution to the problem and we could really crank down the air to keep our room nice and cold.  We could also up the temperature for the whole house and that would keep our main unit from kicking on all of the time.

I measured our room and found out what size unit I needed.  Well, then I jumped on Amazon, because that is one of my favorite sites to find great reviews.  I looked at some of the best units that money could buy.  I read reviews and looked at the costs and finally found the unit that I wanted.  The issue was that shipping window a/c units was just expensive.  So, I looked for the unit locally.  I found it at Sears.

My wife and I went to pick it up at the store and when we got home, I installed it.  I had it in the window and running in under 20 minutes.  Simple installation and easy to use.  We set a temperature that we would really enjoy and then went to sleep.  That first night was so great that we woke up the next morning feeling fully refreshed.  It. was. awesome!

Here Come the Savings

Well, this experiment was about two things.  We wanted to feel comfortable when we slept in our bedroom and we wanted to save some money on our electricity bill.  Of course, I wouldn’t really be able to realize the bill until I had a full month under my belt.  When I got our first bill with the first full month on it, I was really surprised.  I was able to kick about 40% off of my electricity bill.  That is right, I was able to knock off 40%!  That is huge.  The reason why I was able to do this is because we could switch from using our main a/c unit to just the window unit.  It doesn’t run nearly as much and doesn’t pull much electricity to run as the main unit does.  It was a solid win-win situation for us.

The principle of this savings experiment is simple.  Replace the heavy electricity using main unit with a smaller, more efficient unit just for the night time.  Though the temperature is lower at night, we needed it much lower to hit the temperature that we love to sleep in.  The obvious choice (after the fact) is the window a/c unit and I am more than happy with the purchase.  Our savings was able to cancel out the purchase of the window air conditioner in just one season.  Excellent!

Would you use a window air conditioner to save money?  Do you have one, and if so, how do you like it?

Image courtesy of Sears and www.freedigitalphotos.net

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51 Comments

  1. Hmmm I do not have a window AC unit, but it sounds like a good option! At night you really don’t need to cool your whole home, so it makes sense. Glad to see you were able to save some $!

    1. I agree. I was skeptical at first when I thought about it, but it makes sense. Only cool down the part of the house that needs cooling.

  2. Nice work Grayson! We don’t have a window unit as our A/C is fairly efficient, but my Dad and step-mom had one when I was growing up and it did help cut down on the energy costs. That said, I’m very warm blooded as well and if we needed to use one then I’d be right on it.

    1. If our main A/C unit was efficient, we wouldn’t need this one, but I guess we can’t have it all.

  3. I would definitely use one. I have a pretty big house and there are times when it doesn’t make sense to cool the entire thing.
    I hate having the AC on anyway. It makes me sneeze for some reason!

    1. Sorry to hear that the A/C makes you sneeze. That would be no fun.

  4. Many central A/C systems don’t work particularly well when internal doors are closed, so my grandparents always kept the central air’s thermostat relatively high and then just used a window unit to cool the bedroom at night. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t work well for me because all of our windows are the tall side opening ones. There’s no way to close the window around the air conditoner.
    Fortunately, the temperatures have been cooling down quite a bit at night. I may go to bed without any covers over me, but I’ve been waking up with blankets covering me because the outside temperatures got down to 60 and the room is 10 degrees cooler than it would have been with the air conditioner on!

    1. Avatar Tara @ Streets Ahead Living says:

      have you tried getting a room a/c? The types where the unit sits on wheels inside the house and has a tube with a plate that fits in the window for the air exhaust? They’re pricier upfront and can be a bit noisy but they work great so long as you get one with enough BTUS for the square footage. If your windows swing open, I think you can still use something like this, although you may have to custom make the window exhaust tube plate.

      http://www.kingersons.com/room_conditioner.jpg <–that's an example of one

      1. Thanks for sharing this Tara, I was about to suggest the same thing.

    2. I agree with that. You can usually hear the air flow increase when the doors are opened. Sorry to hear about your windows not accepting a window unit, but glad to hear about the nice low temperatures at night.

      As Tara stated, have you thought about the room units?

  5. We have a window unit and it’s a god-send on those hot summer nights. We have no central AC, so besides ceiling fans that’s our only way to fight the heat. I went to school down in NC and spent my first year without AC and at times I thought I was going to die. You would get out of the shower and never dry off because it was just too humid. Sounds to me like you guys made a great call.

    1. No central air would be a killer for me, especially here in NC. You can get away with it in the mountains here, but not in central NC. I didn’t even have an AC unit in college because there was relatively no humidity and it only went to 85 degrees and got nice and cool at night.

  6. And just to think of about how many inefficient units are out there without their owners ever considering whether there could be something better and more viable out there! Valuable info to be read here, even if it convinces only one person to save bucks!

    1. Thanks Kostas. Sometimes we can’t just keep doing what we are doing. We have to shake it up a little bit.

  7. Avatar Tara @ Streets Ahead Living says:

    My dad’s old house had a large room addition that was connected to the full house a/c. But because the addition was so far from the main part of the blower, air rarely came through. My step mom ended up putting a window unit in that room, helping tremendously.

    I agree that using an a/c just for a bedroom at night is a much better option than cooling the whole house, especially if your house has a lot of square footage and tall ceilings!

    1. It sounds like the window AC worked out quite well for them.

      It really works well when you only have to cool down one room instead of a whole house.

  8. Impressive! we have an old unit I am pretty sure is using a LOT of electricity but thankfully it is not often we need it.

  9. Avatar Rita P @ Digital Spikes says:

    40% saving on your monthly electric bill is really good thing. As of now we do not have a window a/c but looking at your post I am inspired to switch to one as there is no need to cool the entire house during night

    1. I think it is a really good amount of savings. I would check it out. The newer, energy efficient window units are inexpensive and can really cool down a room.

  10. Avatar Thomas | Your Daily Finance says:

    Our electric bill has been killer. Mostly because everyone has been home for the past few months so with baby in daycare, wifey back to work and the kids in school it should go down a lot. I have used a window unit since I lived with my parent way back when. I do see them in a lot of homes and always wondered if they help your bill or hurt it. 40% savings says they help!

    1. Our bill was bad when my son was born and my wife was home. It has come back down since the baby is in daycare, but he was born in the winter, so we had to keep the house warmer than we are used to.

  11. We don’t have one, but it sounds like a good thing to have!

  12. Avatar Girl Meets Debt says:

    J and I are both warm blooded too so we don’t sleep well in extreme heat either. We usually have 2 fans going on all night to sleep but there’s not much else we can do since we currently rent. Congrats on being proactive and finding a solution that makes you more comfortable and saves money!! Win win!

    1. I have a fan going as well, but needed a little more to keep me comfortable. I always enjoy win-win situations.

  13. We were lucky enough to have a decent sized central unit on the house when we bought it. But I mean, who needs A/C in Seattle?! It’s been 85 for a few weeks now, so it’s been nice, but nothing compared to where you are.

    Quick question: What about the baby’s room? You have a window unit for that as well?

    1. Haha, I have been to Seattle once and it was nice.

      The baby’s room is good. When I say we like it cold, I mean about 68. That is too cold for his room. His room stays at about 77, which is perfectly fine for him.

  14. Avatar Rob Sorbo says:

    I grew up with window units in all of the rooms and no central air. I’m a fan of central air, because you don’t have to worry about keeping doors closed, but I do like the savings.

    My problem is that I’m cold blooded and my wife is warm blooded, so if we got a window unit in our room, I’d have to move to the guest room for the summer!

    1. I am glad that my wife and I are both very warm blooded, so we are on the same page. My son is the same way, but we don’t need to keep his room as cold as we like ours.

  15. Avatar Mark from PersonalFinancely says:

    I live in an 1100 square foot house. We use 1 window unit to cool my toddlers room. The rest of the house we keep shaded and fans going and it’s good enough for us. (kentucky residents)

    There isn’t much need for any cooling at night time, but the humidity in the day sometimes gets a little uncomfortable with just fans but we prefer the saving money.

    1. I have curtains to keep the house cool during the day. It helps out a lot, but our home is inefficient overall.

      We don’t have to cool down our son’s room because he doesn’t need it cold like we want it.

  16. We have a spare window unit that we’ve used when our central AC was broken, but it doesn’t fit in our bedroom, just the windows in the guest bedroom, so not a long term solution. But it is nice to have around. Since we’ve had it, we’ve also used it a couple of times in our rental units to give the renters temporary relief when their AC went out.

    1. It is good to have one as a spare. When our AC went out this past week, we were still able to sleep comfortably at night. Awesome!

  17. The wife and I were talking about this the other day oddly enough. We wondered if it would cost more to run a window unit or the A/C itself. That’s great you picked up a 40% savings as that is huge. We have the A/C unit but have hardly needed to run it this summer as it’s been raining so much.

    1. It works out for me to just run the window unit at night. We do have the central AC still on, but the temp is higher than normal. I have to keep it at a level that will keep my son’s room a good temperature, but not as cold as our room.

  18. I actually lived a whole year without any A/C, window unit or not!
    I’m sure that saved a lot of money in terms of electricity + cost of buying an A/C, but I sure don’t want to go back to that again.

    1. Hey Alice, welcome to the blog! I lived 3 years without AC in college, but I was in the mountains with almost no humidity and it was tolerable, plus cool at night. I couldn’t do it now though.

  19. That’s so interesting that it saved you money! We always think our window unit is our biggest culprit for a high bill but then again energy is soooo expensive here!

    1. Well, this situation can be different everywhere. When you are trying to cool a whole house down with central AC, then a window unit is going to be much less when you only have to cool down one room.

    1. They are actually much more efficient these days. If you are only trying to cool down one room out of a whole house, then it is going to cost you much less.

  20. Avatar Mark Ross says:

    We have our own window A/C unit and I think it’s not saving us much. I still believe that using electric fans are still the best when it comes to saving money on our electricity bill.

    1. Of course fans are going to be more cost effective, but they don’t actually cool down a room, they just move air around, which makes it feel cooler to you because the air is moving across your body. A fan just doesn’t do it for me when I am sleeping, I need the cold air to get a good nights sleep.

  21. I’m going to be purchasing the Nest in a few weeks. I wonder which would save more money, the window unit or the Nest? Unfortunately, our house has windows that won’t work with a window unit, so for me, that isn’t an option.

    1. I have heard about the Nest. I was actually looking into it the other day. Funny you mentioned it. For me, the Nest wouldn’t save me much because it is still using my inefficient system. Yes, it might control it a little better, but the system would still have to be on a lot ot cool the house down properly. That is why the window unit worked well for me.

  22. Window AC unit…that’s the only type of AC I know! I don’t know why this AC topics makes me reminisce of growing up when my parents had one window AC unit in the master bedroom and it would only be open at night and only when it was REALLY hot. We would all sleep in that room. In the daytime, we’d make do with fans or go to the library (summer vacation). I’m spoiled now I guess…when it’s hot and humid…I need the AC, can’t function without it.

  23. This seems to be a good Idea. I would like to try this since anything that can reduce my electric cost nowadays would be great.

  24. Avatar Derek | MoneyAhoy.com - Money Saving, Making Money, and Investment Ideas says:

    Nice job Grayson! My wife and I are mis-matched in this regard. I love it cold like you do, but she freezes to death most nights if we don’t keep the temp up.

    I’ve been interested in getting a window unit for our room over the garage. It also doubles as our computer room and it does get very hot at times. My wife was concerned with the appearance of a window unit – but who cares much if it is saving that much money, right?

  25. “Would you use a window air conditioner to save money? Do you have one, and if so, how do you like it?”

    Only if I could install it in the wall. Putting an AC unit in a window, especially one visible from the street, makes it look like WT lives there.

    Truth to tell, I considered installing one in the bedroom seriously enough to ask my electrician, a grizzled and wise old craftsman, to help put it in. He demurred: “That,” said he, “will cut the resale value of the house so much that you’ll find it isn’t worth the loss.” By “that,” we were talking about cutting a hole in the bedroom wall and placing the unit so it would blow blissfully over the bed.