How to Hire an HVAC Technician

8 Tips Every Homeowner Should Know About Hiring an HVAC Technician

When your HVAC unit starts to show signs of needing maintenance, service, or complete replacement, it’s critical that every homeowner knows what to do and who to call (or not call).

During the peak of the summer months or in the thick of the winter months, your ability to find the right HVAC technician can make a huge difference on the timeline that is needed in order to fix whatever indoor air problems you may be experiencing in your home.

If you hire the right contractor to service your HVAC system, you will likely get things fixed or replaced without much of a hassle, and be back to feeling comfortable inside of your home in no time. On the other hand, if you hire the wrong contractor, it may make things much more difficult, causing you to have to wait a long time in the extreme heat or the freezing cold for service, pay too much for repairs, or be left without a working HVAC system.

Below, we will lay out eight tips that every homeowner should know to help you find and hire the best HVAC technician to service your unit.

1. Review Licensing Information

Any time you are considering hiring someone to do work within your home, you need to do a bit of research to ensure everything is on the up and up.

The first important thing to check is your HVAC technician’s license number. Your contractor should have no problem sharing his or her license number with you. If not, move on and find someone else.

Once you get the number, it is possible to look up the license and get an overview of past performance. If your contractor won’t provide a home improvement license to you, this is a red flag that you may need to choose someone else.




2. Ask for and Contact Customer References

What you should do next is to ask your contractor for customer references. A reputable company should be more than happy to provide a list of previous clients who can share their experiences with you.

When you start talking to your technician’s customers, make sure you ask about various things such as the contractor’s timeliness, work habits, ability to finish the job and whether or not the price was within the budget. Learning about another homeowner’s experience may help you make a decision about whether or not this contractor can help you in your situation. If your contractor dodges your questions about references, this is another red flag that they may not be the best technician for you.

3. Look at Experience Within the Industry

Ideally, the HVAC service person that you choose should have a lengthy list of experience. Whether or not you choose a team of contractors or a single proprietor, it’s important to go with someone who has a proven record of success with various types of HVAC systems and room air conditioners.

When you’re paying for time and labor, you want to have someone in your home that can quickly diagnose the problem and efficiently make adjustments or repairs. It may not be necessary to have someone who has been around for decades, but at the very least you want to choose a technician that has been in the industry for a few years.

4. Read Online Reviews

You can check the reputation of your HVAC technician by perusing popular websites dealing with businesses or home improvement. What you can do is conduct an Internet search using the company’s name as your search term.

While you should be on the look out for fallacious or untruthful reviews, most of the time online reviews can help guide you to finding and hiring the best HVAC technician. Just make sure that your read over each review in order to make a decision about choosing a contractor to service your HVAC problems.




5. Evaluate the Pricing

One of the most important things to homeowners when they schedule service to their major appliances is the price. What will come out of your pocket is always an important factor to keep in mind.

Either on the company website or through customer references, look at some of the pricing of the various services the business may offer. Companies that are on the lowest end of the region’s pricing may not be the best bet. The highest priced contractors may offer additional services, so be sure to ask.

Keep in mind, while going with the cheapest company isn’t always smart, you certainly don’t want to pay more than you have to. You get what you pay for.

6. Ask About Rebates & Energy Efficiency

When you’re having work done to your HVAC unit, or if you’re going with a brand new system, a reputable company should offer you additional tips and recommendations that can help you make sure your home is more energy efficient.

Part of any routine service for HVAC systems is a complete run through of the little improvements you can make around the house to support the proper maintenance and efficiency of your air conditioning or heating system. Contractors who take the time to show you how to make your home more energy efficient are typically ones you can trust.




7. Make Sure You Get an Estimate

Every reputable HVAC technician should provide a detailed and itemized price estimate of the work that needs to be done. If you don’t get a line-item or detailed information about how much the project or repairs may cost, then you should consider hiring a different HVAC technician.

It is strongly recommended that every homeowner get several estimates from different HVAC companies, as this will allow you to compare costs and make a data-driven decision. Ask about discounts your contractor may offer to help you keep things within your budget. Perhaps there are rebates available for you to take advantage of.

Some technicians may even offer financing opportunities that can help you purchase an entirely new system for your home. This can break down the cost into manageable monthly payments, making it much more affordable.

8. Get Everything in Writing

Once you have made a choice about which company you want to hire, it’s important to get a solid contract written out. Your contract should detail the entire scope of the project along with the detailed pricing.

Go line-by-line and read over everything that your technician presents to you. Make sure you ask any and all questions if you don’t understand something. An HVAC technician understands that most homeowners will have questions, and they expect you to ask. So, ask away before you sign anything.

Putting everything in writing can help you know exactly what to expect, and how much you’re going to pay before the job is completed. When everything has been finished, make sure you get additional information about your HVAC’s warranty and service requirements if you installed a new system.

Keep in mind that the warranty may vary between the manufacturer and the company that installed the devices. Get this in writing.

The Importance of Researching HVAC Technicians

Finding the right home improvement company or HVAC technician is something that can take some time, research, and effort.

If you skip this important step, you’re setting yourself up to getting a lower standard of service, paying much more than you need to or even becoming victim to an unscrupulous company. Being an informed and smart consumer can help you and your HVAC technician know exactly what to expect and provide a more positive working experience for all.

Swamp Cooler

Swamp Cooler FAQs

Affordable and energy efficient, swamp coolers are a great way to drop the temperature in your home, without spending the money on a new air conditioner. They don’t use any chemicals or refrigerants, all it needs is water to help you feel cooler.

While this all may sound great, evaporative air coolers are not the right fit for everyone or every home. Only some homeowners will benefit from using a swamp cooler inside their home, and even then, it is hardly ever a suitable alternative to other types of air conditioners.

What Is A Swamp Cooler?

A swamp cooler is an appliance that uses the evaporation of water to help cool the air stream and add humidity back into the air. They are particularly useful for anyone living in arid climates.

Other names for these devices include:

  • Evaporative coolers
  • Wet air coolers
  • Desert coolers

How Does A Swamp Cooler Work?

This type of air cooler utilizes the principles of evaporative cooling.

A swamp cooler is really just a simple contraption that uses a fan to suck in hot air, typically from the outdoors, then pushing the air over a number of wet “cooling” pads.

As the hot air passes over these pads, the liquid water turns into vapor, which is then pushed out of the unit, and into the air inside your home. Once the vapor starts to circulate into the air, the added moisture will extract the heat from the air, helping the ambient temperature feel cooler.

How An Evaporative Cooler Works

The dry air temperature cools during the evaporation process. This is the same method that the human body uses to cool itself down. When we get hot we sweat and the sweat evaporates which lowers our body’s temperature.

Because of this it’s important to use only in hot, dry climates. For optimal performance, only homeowners that have humidity levels below 50% should use a swamp cooler inside their home.




Does It Lower the Ambient Temperature?

A swamp cooler will help make the temperature feel approximately 5°-15° lower in the area within close proximity to where it is located. However, they will not lower the overall ambient temperature in the room.

This is a common misconception and important for homeowners to understand prior to purchasing an evaporative cooler. Unlike an AC unit, you will not feel a significant drop in temperature, nor will you be able to control the temperature with any sort of precision.


What’s the Difference Between a Swamp Cooler & Air Conditioner?

The most notable difference is the method in which they each cool the air that is being circulated within the room.

An air cooler uses water, cooling pads and an internal fan to increase the humidity within the room, whereas an air conditioner uses a compressor and refrigerants that can rapidly cool the air.

While they may have similarities and are both intended to cool a room, it’s very important to understand that they each utilize a distinct cooling method and are not a one-for-one replacement.

Portable Cooling Confusion

The similarities are noticeably obvious when it comes to portable air conditioners. Because of how similar they are in shape, size and design, not to mention they each have “portable” in their name, it’s very common for homeowners to confuse these units with portable evaporative coolers.

Unfortunately, they operate very differently, and this has left plenty of homeowners both confused and disappointed with their purchase.




What’s the Difference Between an Evaporative Cooler & Air Fan?

A fan uses rotating blades to create a current of air but has no real effect on the temperature or humidity within the room. All it does is circulate the air around you. It may feel cooler when you first feel the air circulating around you, but this is due to the “wind chill effect” that it creates and will be temporary, at best.

Whereas, an evaporative cooler utilizes an internal fan to help circulate air, but also goes one step further by using a set of wet cooling pads to help recreate the evaporation process by adding a bit of moisture to the air.


What is the Best Environment to Use a Swamp Cooler?

Due to the evaporative nature of how they operate, swamp coolers are best used in hot, dry climates where the temperature is high, and the humidity levels are low.


Can I Use One If I Live In A Humid Climate?

This is not recommended. If your home is located in an area with a humid climate, then it would be unwise to use a swamp cooler inside your home.

Not only will they be ineffective at cooling, but they will just add unnecessary amounts of moisture to the air. As a result, the excessive humidity levels inside your home will cause more issues and lead to poor indoor air quality.

If you live a humid climate, the better choice would be to use an air conditioner for cooling the interior of your home. However, depending on your location and the fluctuating temperature, there may be certain times in the day that you could use a swamp cooler to help supplement your air conditioner.




Will a Swamp Cooler Help Cool a Garage or Workshop?

Yes. An evaporative air cooler can be a great choice for cooling your garage or workshop. Due to the large doors and poor insulation, you are less-likely to experience the negative effects of too much humidity.

Ironically, it’s because of these same reasons that garages often don’t have an air conditioner. As a result, a swamp cooler could be the ideal choice to provide cooler airflow, especially on those hot summer days.


What Size Swamp Cooler Do I Need?

Once you’ve made the decision to purchase an air cooler, you need to determine the right size unit. Air coolers are measured by cubic feet per minute (CFM). This is the measurement used to determine the amount of air that will be circulated each minute.

How to Calculate CFM:

Figuring out the CFM is pretty easy and shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes. Here’s the steps you will take.

  1. Determine the square footage of the room.
  2. Multiply the room’s square footage by the height of the ceilings.
  3. Then divide that number by 2.
  4. This is your suggested CFM for that room.

For Example:

To illustrate how this works, we’ll be calculating the amount of CFM needed to cool a room with 150 square feet and 9ft. tall ceilings.

  • Room Sq. Ft — 150 square feet
  • Ceiling Height — 9 ft
  • 150 x 9 = 1350 / 2 = 675 CFM

In the example above, I would need to find a unit that has a minimum of 675 CFM.

If the CFM falls in between units or you have an odd-shaped room with lots of corners, you would want to purchase an air cooler that is slightly larger. If it is too small will have to worker harder to keep the area cool and waste energy doing so.


How Do You Clean A Swamp Cooler?

A swamp cooler will follow a similar cleaning process as a humidifier. Any part of the device that gets wet, needs to be cleaned and sanitized on a regular basis.

To ensure proper cooling and the prevention of mold or mildew, the tank and cooling pads should be cleaned with soap and water at least once every 7-10 days. Allow all parts to dry thoroughly.

This will prevent dust, dirt, and mildew from building up. Cleaning the unit regularly is especially important if you are using the air cooler for long periods of time.

External – Cleaning the outside of the air cooler can be done periodically by simply wiping it down with a damp cloth.




How Often Do You Refill the Tank?

This depends on many factors, ranging from how you are using the device to the brand/model itself. Generally speaking, you should not have to refill the tank for at least 4-6 hours.

Refilling Swamp Cooler Tank

Below, are a few considerations that will play a role in how long your tank will last before it needs to be refilled.

  • How big is the device?
  • How / where often are you using it?
  • What is the temperature of the room / surrounding area?
  • What is the relative humidity of the room / surrounding area?
  • What is the insulation like in the room it is being used in?

Depending on how you answered the above questions, you to help you determine whether or not you can use your swamp cooler in a more efficient manner.


How Often Do You Replace the Cooling Pads?

This depends on how you are using and caring for the device. If you clean your swamp cooler on a regular basis, then your cooling pads will last for quite a while.

As the summer season sets in and you prepare to use the evaporative cooler for the first time, inspect the pads to make sure that they have no damage. If you notice any cracks, then they will need to be replaced.


Do you have a question about evaporative air coolers that you didn’t see listed here? If so, leave it down in the comments below.


Portable AC Unit

Portable Air Conditioners Get New Energy Guide Labels

On October 1, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) officially rolled out changes to the Energy Guide labels for portable AC units. This change largely flew below the radar. To help provide some clarity for both consumers and manufacturers, we’ve outlined some of the most common questions that this change may present.

What Changed?

The Federal Trade Commission introduced new Energy Guide labels for portable air conditioners that more accurately reflect the energy efficiency of each unit. This specific change to the labeling is intended to have two immediate changes:

  1. The Energy Guide Labels are more accurate.
  2. Retailers and manufacturers have to update their marketing materials to help consumers.

However, the recent change to the Energy Labeling Rule was more of a reaction to another change made by the Department of Energy (DOE).

How New Energy Testing Forced a Change in Labeling

This proposal from the FTC actually stemmed from new energy testing guidelines that the Department of Energy implemented for both single-hose and dual-hose portable AC Units. The new energy test was initially proposed on February 25, 2015. After a few changes to the initial proposal, the new testing procedure went into effect on June 1, 2016.

New Testing Methods for Portable AC Units

While the new testing methods from the DOE were largely considered to be a step in the right direction for consumers, there were numerous unintended consequences that had a direct effect on the Energy Guide labels. The main concern was the inconsistent testing results that had the potential to mislead consumers comparing portable AC units to other types of room air conditioners.

Portable Air Conditioner

The energy efficiency testing made a few significant changes.

  • Introduced the concept of Seasonally Adjusted Cooling Capacity (SACC).
  • Made revisions to how the DOE calculates and determines Combined Energy Efficiency Ratio (CEER).

Despite rigorous debate from numerous manufacturers, the FTC concluded that the new DOE efficiency model painted portable air conditioners in a favorable light. Due to variables within the new testing procedure, the Energy Guide labels portrayed portable AC units to be more efficient than they actually were.

To mitigate this, the FTC proposed a new rule change with the intention to create more accurate Energy Guide Labels that will help guide consumers as they shop, and help them make an educated buying decision.




When Did the Changes Start?

Officially, the changes to how portable AC units are labeled and marketed by retailers went into effect on October 1, 2017. However, while this may seem out-of-the-blue for consumers, these changes actually been long in the making. With even more changes possibly coming in the years ahead.

The Federal Trade Commission initially proposed a broad change to the Energy Labeling Rule back on September 12, 2016. It was at this time that the FTC requested feedback in writing from manufacturers, reatailers and the general public. This feedback was due on November 14, 2016.

You can read the full notice in Vol. 81, No. 176 (PDF) of the Federal Register.

Does it Only Affect Portable AC Units?

No. This specific change to the Energy Labeling Rule was not aimed solely at portable air conditioners. The proposed change to the rule also included different types of ceiling fans and electric water heaters.

What is the Energy Labeling Rule?

In a more general sense, the Energy Labeling Rule applies to a wide variety of appliances found in your home. It requires that a bright yellow “Energy Guide” is adhered to new appliances upon purchase. It is an estimate that specifies how much energy that appliance will use annually, as well as the overall cost of operating it in your home.

On these labels, you’ll find three important ratings:

  • An estimation in how much it would annually cost to use the appliance.
  • The energy efficiency rating and overall consumption of energy (determined by testing methods from the DOE)
  • An energy comparison of similar models, with a range of low to high energy expectations.

This recent change does not affect all appliances, however, only the few mentioned above.




How Does This New Labeling Affect Me?

In theory, the new labels would make it easier for the average consumer to make the best buying decision when they are trying to shop, compare and buy a portable air conditioner. Because they are marketed as an appliance that can cool a single room, they often get compared to other types of room air conditioners, which far exceed portable AC’s in energy efficiency.

BTU vs ASHRAE

The new changes to the Energy Labeling Rule now requires all portable air conditioners to list their cooling capacity based on ASHRAE standards (PDF). This is determined by the new energy efficiency testing procedures by the DOE.

So, now as you shop for a new portable air conditioner, you will should see ASHRAE ratings listed per each unit. If you do not see ASHRAE ratings, then that particular retailer is not in compliance with the FTC.


Room Air Conditioner

Room Air Conditioners: How to Cool a Room Without Central AC

Many homeowners use a central air conditioner to control the temperature in their home, but this often comes with a hefty price tag and the requirement of cooling every room within your home. But, what if you can’t afford a central AC, or you just want to cool down one room? That’s where a room air conditioner can help.

Finding the best room ac unit for your home will depend on a variety of factors, including the size of the space, your budget, and your personal preferences.

Below, we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions people have about room air conditioners, as well as discuss the pros and cons of the different types available for you to choose from.

Let’s get started.

What Is A Room Air Conditioner?

A room air conditioner is any type of appliance that is designed to cool down an individual space, such as a room in a home or office.

Cost-effective and energy-efficient, this genre of air conditioners can be a suitable alternative for homeowners that don’t want to, or are unable to, invest in central air conditioning.




Are They Just For Small Rooms?

No. While they are commonly associated with smaller spaces, room air conditioners are available in a wide variety of sizes.

It’s important to know the size of the square footage of the room you’re looking to cool, and then calculate the amount of BTUs needed for that size space. You will also need to decide the type of AC unit that would work best for your room, which we detail down below.


Types of Room Air Conditioners

Now that we have a better idea of what a room air conditioner is, let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of the different types you will choose from. Consider these pros and cons as you decide which air conditioner is best for your room.

Window Air Conditioners

Window AC Unit

Probably the most familiar type of room air conditioner, window cooling units are a great option for controlling the temperature within single rooms. There are many benefits to this type of AC unit. They are very affordable to purchase, with hundreds of models available from the most reputable brands in the space.

This low price point goes beyond the initial purchase, too. With a reputation of being extremely energy-efficient, you can count on saving even more money on your monthly energy bills. These costs can be further extended if you get an AC unit that has been rated by EnergyStar.

Window AC units come in just about every size, so no matter how large or small your room may be, it’s not hard to find one with the right amount of BTUs for your space.

The main downside of this type of room air conditioner is the installation requirements.

To work properly, window AC units do require permanent installation through a window that is partially open. This will allow the AC unit to vent hot air from the room. Without proper ventilation, the air conditioner would not be able to cool your room to your desired temperature.

While not an overly difficult task, installing a window air conditioner does present a challenge for many homeowners. If you don’t feel confident in your ability to install your AC unit, you will have to hire somebody to complete the task. This is an additional cost that many homeowners don’t consider at the time of purchase.

The Pros:

  • Affordable to buy and use.
  • Very energy-efficient.
  • Lots of options to choose from.

The Cons:

  • Installation may be difficult.
  • May need to hire someone to install AC unit.
  • Fixed location may require multiple units.

Portable Air Conditioners

Portable AC Units

In recent years, portable air conditioners have exploded in popularity. Likely because this type of AC unit is another great option for cooling individual rooms.

Portable AC units work just as their window counterparts, but offer the convenience of being light enough to move from room-to-room. Because they don’t require permanent installation, you have more flexibility in cooling strategic areas within your home.

Portable Air Conditioning

Portable Air Conditioner FAQs

Popular for cooling single rooms, here is a list of the most frequently asked questions about portable air conditioners.

Learn More

Installing a portable air conditioner is a very simple task that should pose minimal issues for homeowners. Simply click the window vent kit in place, and attach the hose(s) that come out of the back of the AC unit. This is how it vents hot air from the room.

Depending on the brand and model you buy, portable AC units are an affordable option with a large number of units to cool rooms of all sizes. However, the purchase price of a portable AC unit will be slightly higher than window units. But, because they are portable, you may only need to purchase one unit to cool various rooms.

The main downside of using a portable unit is that it will not be as energy-efficient as other types of room air conditioners on this list. At this time, you will not be able to find any portable air conditioners that have earned an EnergyStar rating.

The Pros

  • Affordable to buy.
  • Very simple installation.
  • Portable and easy to roll from room-to-room.

The Cons

  • Not as energy efficient as other room AC units.
  • Some units will be louder than others.

Ductless Air Conditioners (Mini-Split)

Ductless AC Unit

Ductless air conditioners, also known as a mini-split, are great at cooling large, open spaces. While they are not cheap to purchase, this type of room air conditioner is designed to work much like a central AC unit, qualifying it as one of the best alternatives for homeowners.

Consisting of a condenser outside that connects to the unit indoors, ductless AC units are mounted high up on your wall in an area that allows you to maximize the circulation of cool air across the entirety of your room. They take up zero floor space and are extremely quiet, allowing it to largely blend into the room.

Out of all the room air conditioners on this list, ductless AC units are going to be the most efficient. They use very little energy to operate, allowing you to cut your monthly energy costs by a significant amount. You can also find lots of ductless systems that are designed to cool multiple rooms, giving you maximum temperature control across your home.

Similar to buying a central AC unit for your home, the main downsides of ductless air conditioners are the overall cost of purchasing and installing it.

Unfortunately, the price tag for a ductless mini-split system is going to be much steeper than other room AC units. And once you get over the initial sticker shock, you also have to consider the cost of finding and hiring a qualified technician that can install it for you.

The Pros:

  • Surprisingly quiet.
  • Very efficient with minimal costs to use.
  • Doesn’t take up any floor space.
  • One unit can cool multiple rooms.

The Cons:

  • Expensive to purchase.
  • Need to hire a qualified technician to install.

Through-the-Wall Air Conditioners

Wall AC Unit

With a similar design as window units, this type of air conditioner is installed directly into your wall of the room you want to cool.

Wall air conditioners are the least popular type of unit on this list, and for good reasons. Most homeowners don’t want to spend the time and money to cut a hole into the side of their home, just to cool one room.

If you’re going to spend that amount of money, it would probably be wiser to invest into a ductless AC that doesn’t require a large hole in your home. It’s also going to be much easier to install and use a portable or window unit.

Despite these downsides, through-the-wall air conditioners are engineered to be slightly different than window units. This allows them to be slightly more efficient at cooling large, open rooms.

Wall AC units are also a great fit for cooling small sheds, workshops or other areas that don’t have a window and have little downside to cutting a hole in the wall.

It is important to remember that the difference between a window and through wall air conditioner does not lie in where they are positioned but in their structure. Through wall air conditioners vent warm air only through the back of the unit while window air conditioners work from both sides. These room air conditioners are not interchangeable.

The Pros:

  • Efficient and powerful.
  • Doesn’t take up any floor space.
  • Great at cooling large rooms and open spaces.

The Cons:

  • Potentially expensive to install.
  • Requires a hole in the wall.

Finding the Best AC For Your Room

Now that you have a better idea of what types of air conditioners can be used to cool a single room, let’s close this out with a few final considerations to help you find the best AC for your room.

No matter what you decide to buy, or how much it costs, this is a big decision that will affect your comfort level on a daily basis. It’s important to look at all the angles before you buy the first one you come across.




Ask yourself these questions:
  • What is the square footage of your room?
  • How much are you willing to spend?
  • Are you willing and able to do the installation?

Once you have the answer to these questions, you’ll be in a position to make an informed decision and find the best air conditioner for your room.

Window vs. Portable

Most homeowners will find that a window air conditioner is the most affordable and easiest to buy, but they may be hesitant when it comes to the installation process. If this is the scenario you find yourself in, then perhaps a portable air conditioner is the better option for you. Just know, that you’d be sacrificing energy efficiency for convenient installation.

Ductless = The Closest to Central AC

If you want to get closely replicate what you have with central air conditioning, then your best bet would be to buy a ductless air conditioner. But, they are more expensive to buy, and considerably more difficult to install. However, long-term, they are a great way to cool a room.

Any questions or thoughts? Let’s start a conversation in the comments below.


Portable AC Unit

9 Tips to Using a Portable Air Conditioner

How to Get the Most Out of Your Portable AC

Like any new appliance you bring into your home, a portable air conditioner requires a little bit of getting used to, plus the typical cleaning and maintenance to ensure it is operating to its full potential. Regardless of where you install it or how often you use it, getting to know your indoor air conditioner and how it works within each room its placed, will go a long way in helping you get the most out of it.

To help you learn how to use your portable air conditioner, we’ve but together the following tips. These tips are designed to help you increase its efficiency, longevity and overall cooling ability. For more technical info, please refer to our list of FAQs here, or the user manual that came with your portable AC.

1. Strategic Installation

Be mindful of where your portable AC is installed. While not always avoidable, there are certainly some areas of your home that you should try to stay away from when you’re installing your unit.

Portable Air Conditioner

Sunny Spots

If possible, you will want to try to avoid placing the portable AC in an area that gets a lot of afternoon sun. If the heat of the sun is bearing down on your AC, it will likely need to work harder to keep the room at your desired temperature. This extra work may eventually lead to a shorter lifespan.

Humid Spots

It’s also wise to install and use your air conditioning unit in rooms that have low humidity levels. This is because the higher the relative humidity is inside the room, and directly surrounding the AC unit, the more condensation it will create.

Depending on the type of portable air conditioner you are using, this extra condensation may increase the frequency that it needs to be drained and cleaned. Failing to remove this will, ultimately, lead to the unit malfunctioning.

2. The Amount of Space Between Walls

One of the main benefits of this type of air conditioner is the fact that it’s portable. This gives you quite a bit of flexibility in the location of your home that it can be installed.




However, it’s still important to pay close attention to where you place it.

No matter where you decide to install the appliance, it is very important that you leave adequate space between the walls and the unit itself. Failing to leave enough space will limit the airflow. When your unit is unable to draw in enough air while it is in use, its output is reduced. As a result, this reduced output makes it harder for your portable air conditioner to cool the room to your desired temperature.

Refer to the user manual to know how much space the manufacturer recommends for your specific model.

3. Ventilation

No matter what type of room air conditioner you are using in your home, ventilation is always going to be one of the most important factors for ensuring optimal operation and a long life of the appliance.

Window Vent Kit for Portable AC

The importance of ventilation cannot be overstated, but it’s especially important when it comes to portable air conditioners.

Proper ventilation will direct the hot air from the compressor and out of the room. This will help prevent your AC unit from overheating, as well as keep the temperature inside your room from going up.

Use the Right Vent Kit For Your Window

Most portable AC units come with a window ventilation kit that’s designed to fit the majority of “standard-sized windows” in homes. However, depending on when your home was built, as well as the region you live or the style of your home, the definition of a “standard-size window” will vary.

It is unlikely that you should have any issues getting your ventilation kit to fit the windows in your home, but if you do, there are other ventilation options available, including kits for sliding doors and drop ceilings.

4. Keep the Exhaust Hose Straight

Now that we have ensured that the portable AC is properly ventilated, let’s now take a look at the exhaust hose. You will want to limit the amount of twists, kinks or coils in the hose leading from the unit to the window. The exhaust hose should remain straight with minimal contortions.

Portable Air Conditioning

How to Save Money With Portable AC’s

If you’re clever in how you use your portable air conditioner, they can save you a lot of money. Here’s how you can use them to lower your energy bills.

Learn How

It is strongly recommended that you minimize any kinks in the exhaust hose that will limit the airflow or reduce ventilation. This may require a shorter exhaust hose, or just simply being mindful of where/how it is installed.

What Happens If the Exhaust Hose is Twisted?

When you have a long and twisted exhaust hose attached to your portable air conditioner, the unit has a harder time with ventilation.

As a result, the moisture in the air being expelled will start to accumulate inside the hose, and eventually start to trickle back down into the unit itself. If this happens, the cooling efficiency and the lifespan of the air conditioner may be reduced.

5. Clean & Replace Filter Regularly

This is probably pretty obvious to all homeowners, but the filter in your air conditioner should be changed regularly. This is not only important to ensure proper operation and cooling, but is essential for maintaining your indoor air quality.

How Often Should I Change It?

The frequency that you clean or change your filter all depends on how often you use the AC unit. It would be wise to inspect it every 6 to 8 weeks, just to make sure that it is in good condition. If your home is dusty, or if someone in your family is prone to allergies, then you may want to consider cleaning or replacing your filter more often.




What Happens If I Don’t Change the Filter?

If you’re using a clogged or dirty air filter, it may reduce the intake of the unit which may lead to a variety of problems.

These problems include:
  • Diminishes the efficiency, costs more to use.
  • Harder to reach and maintain desired temperature.
  • Forces the AC unit to work harder than it should.
  • May compromise indoor air quality.

Many of these issues will only occur when the filter is neglected for an extended period of time, but nonetheless, this shows why it’s important for all homeowners to regularly check and replace the filters in their air conditioners.

What If My Portable AC Has Multiple Filters?

Depending on the brand and model of the portable AC you’re using in your home, you may have multiple filters inside. All portable AC units come with a pre-filter, and don’t always require the use of other filters.

While these pre-filters are great at reducing large particulates that may be circulating in your air, they do very little for the common allergens that are known to lead to health complications, such as mold spores or pet dander. This is why it’s recommended that you use another type of air filter in your portable air conditioner.

6. Keep it Clean

Keeping your portable air conditioner clean is one of the easiest ways you can keep the device working properly, and it doesn’t take much work to complete.

AC Coil Cleaner

The Simple Clean:

Simply wipe down the outside of the unit down with a damp cloth. Avoid using excessively hot water or any sort of cleaning chemicals that may damage the exterior.

How Often? Do this every 4-6 weeks.

The Deep Clean:

Unplug your unit and clean the condenser coils to increase its efficiency. You can either purchase a coil cleaner to use or make your own cleaning solution with water and lemon juice. Spray the solution on the coils and remove after a few minutes.

How Often? Do this once a year.

The Professional Clean:

Sometimes, even when you clean the unit on a regular basis, you may require professional service to improve its functionality. If you experience issues with your unit that you are unable to resolve on your own, don’t hesitate to contact a professional air conditioning service to clean and inspect the appliance.

How Often? As needed.

7. Store it Properly When Not In Use

When you have no plans on using your portable air conditioner, it is recommended that you store it away to keep it safe for the next season. Try to avoid storing your AC unit in an area that has extreme temperatures, such as the garage or patio.

Checklist for Storing Portable Air Conditioners

Before you disassemble your AC unit and put it away into storage, it is strongly recommended that you do the following tasks.

  • All water has been drained from the unit.
  • Turn unit on fan setting to help the inside dry completely.
  • Deep clean all other parts and allow to dry, specifically exhaust hoses and drain pains.
  • Compress the exhaust hose to prevent damage while in storage.
  • Cover the unit with a sheet to prevent dust or other debris from accumulating.
  • Store your portable AC indoors in a climate-controlled area.

8. Electrical Requirements

When it comes to the power source for portable air conditioners, most homeowners shouldn’t have any issues. The vast majority of these AC units are designed to operate on the standard 120v electrical outlets commonly found in homes.




This is a pretty essential feature, as it would be difficult to move the AC unit from room to room if it required a different receptacle.

It may be a good idea to use a surge protector that can add a layer of protection against sudden power failures. It’s also recommended that you are mindful of how many appliances are plugged into the outlet, as to not overwhelm the circuit.

Note: This applies to the majority of portable air conditioners used to cool rooms in your home. If you’re using a commercial-size unit or a high-BTU air conditioner, you may need more electricity. All electrical requirements will be found in the user manual.

9. Pre-Cooling & Better Circulation

To help your portable AC unit cool your down in an efficient manner, it is recommended that you turn it on shortly before the room gets too hot or uncomfortable. If you wait until the sun is shining bright and the temperature is at its peak, the air conditioner will need to work harder, and take longer, to reach your desired temperature.

Another tip that every homeowner should know, is to use a small oscillating fan near the unit. This will help the cool air circulate throughout the room, and make you feel more comfortable.


Final Thoughts

There are many benefits that come from a portable air conditioner, but when you know how to strategically use it, you’ll find that you can improve its efficiency and extend its life.

By following the usage and maintenance tips listed above, you put yourself in the position to get the most from your AC unit, all while staying cool and saving money.


Portable Air Conditioner

Can A Portable Air Conditioner Save Money On Energy Bills?

This is one of the most common questions that homeowners have when they are considering whether or not a portable air conditioner is the right fit for them. And, the answer is wholly determined by how you plan on using the air conditioner itself.

The Quick Answer

Yes. Portable air conditioners can save you money and lower your energy bills, but only if you are strategic in how use it.

The Long Answer

Okay, now that we got the cliff-notes answer out of way, let’s dive a little deeper into how you can use a portable air conditioning unit to save money on your monthly energy bills.

Energy Efficient Portable Air Conditioner

Are Portable AC’s Energy Efficient?

No, not really. Out of all the various types of air conditioners available to homeowners, portable AC units are generally one of the worst in regard to energy efficiency.

When you compare portable air conditioners to other types of room AC units, you’ll find that they score terribly in a side-to-side comparison. You’ll find that both window and ductless AC units all have higher CEER and EER ratings, making them the cheaper choice for daily operation.

The simple truth — Portable AC units will use more energy to hit your ideal cooling temperature.

But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use this type of air conditioner to help you save money and lower your energy bills.

3 Cooling Strategies That Save Money

I know what you’re thinking. If a portable air conditioner is such an energy hog, then how will it save money?

There’s a couple of strategies that you can follow to help you save money, and use your portable AC to stay cool. But again, it all comes down to how you use it.

The “Portable” Cooling Strategy

Portable air conditioners still have one notable advantage, and it’s so obvious that it’s baked right into the name.

Portable Air Conditioner

This is the only type of room air conditioner that doesn’t require permanent installation. By taking advantage of a few extra accessories, you can easily move a portable AC from one room to another.

  • Rolling vs Carrying:

    The majority of manufacturers will include castors with the unit, but these can also be bought from any home improvement store. If you plan on moving a portable air conditioner from room to room, these are strongly recommended. They will make it easy to roll around, and you won’t have to worry about straining your back by picking it up.

  • The Venting Challenge:

    The only significant challenge is whether you need to install the window vent every time you want to move the AC unit. If so, this will become tiresome. Instead of bothering with this inconvenience, yu should consider buying an extra venting kit and installing it in the rooms you frequent the most.

Why This Saves Money

If you live in a small home or apartment, this is a great way to save some money. Instead of buying an air conditioner for each room, and dealing with the hassle of multiple installations, you can simply move a portable unit when you need.

The extra venting kits are just a simple click into place, and the castors allow you to roll it around your home with ease.

The only inconvenience is remember to actually move it when you need.

The Supplemental Cooling Strategy

This is where the real money saving opportunities come in to play, and is applicable for every homeowner, no matter how large or small your home may be. And it’s especially useful for anyone that is using a central air conditioner to cool their home.

Take a moment to consider how often all the rooms in your house are occupied at the same time. This is probably a rare occurrence, yet… every single day, you pay to keep those rooms cool.




Think about that.

How much money do you think you’ve lost, by cooling rooms that don’t really need to be cooled? Instead, try setting your thermostat at a reasonable, yet still relatively comfortable, temperature, and then use a portable air conditioner to quickly cool down the most important rooms.

This is called the supplemental cooling strategy. And it will save you lots of money, when used correctly.

Why This Saves Money

You no longer have to pay for your entire home to be cool, when only one or two rooms are being used.

As an example, think about your bedroom. You spend roughly 8-10 hours in that room every day. And a good night’s sleep is dependent on how comfortable you are. However, as you drift away into deep sleep, you’re continuously paying to keep the rest of your empty home at that same temperature. This happens every time your head hits the pillow. The energy cost adds up over time, and the amount of money that you’re wasting may just give you nightmares.

As an alternative, use a portable air conditioner to cool just your bedroom. And set your central air conditioner to a more energy efficient temperature. This gives you the flexibility to stay cool all night long, but save money by using less energy in total.

Note: When the cool nip of winter starts to hit, this same supplemental strategy can be applied when heating costs start to rise. Just swap out your AC unit for a heater, or plan ahead and buy a portable air conditioner that has heating functionality.

The “Don’t Piss Off Your HOA” Strategy

A quick glance at the reviews for popular window AC units, and it’s hard to miss the obligatory complaint about how somebody’s Homeowners Association made them take down their window unit.

Portable Air Conditioning Unit

This is actually a pretty common scenario.

While every neighborhood and HOA have their own set of rules, one of the most common restrictions found across them all is about window air conditioners. They’re an eyesore. They may not be safe. They are too loud. There’s a plenty of reasons they are restricted.

Unfortunately, most homeowners don’t even realize it, until it’s too late. It’s already installed in your window, and you’re living the comfy life as you open that HOA notice.

Why This Saves Money

Unlike the other cooling strategies above, this one will prevent you from wasting time and money with a window air conditioner that is only going to upset your HOA.

Nobody has time to deal with an overzealous HOA, and returning a large appliance is a hassle in itself.

If you’re one of the unfortunate homeowners that has already bought and installed a window air conditioner, then you may have already lost money. Hopefully, the manufacturer of the AC unit has an accommodating return policy and a low restocking fee.

Final Thoughts

Portable air conditioners get a bad rap. It’s true that they are not the most energy efficient air conditioner available, but if you are clever in how you use the device, there is no doubt that it can save you quite a bit of money and lower your energy bills.


Portable AC Unit

Portable Air Conditioner FAQs

What is a Portable Air Conditioner?

Designed to be moved from room to room with ease, a portable air conditioning unit is a smaller cooling appliance that vents directly out of your window, but doesn’t require permanent installation.

Generally, this type of air conditioner is engineered to cool individual rooms, not your entire home. To make it easier to move around, portable units often have wheels on the bottom and built-in handles on the side.


Portable Air Conditioner

Do portable room air conditioners work?

Yes, of course. They are a popular alternative to central air conditioners, and one of the better choices for cooling rooms in your home.

Of course, the amount of benefits you receive from a portable air conditioner is entirely dependent on how you use, how well you maintain it, the environment you are using it in, and a whole host of other factors. But, yes, portable air conditioners do work when used correctly.


Are these air conditioners energy efficient?

It depends on how you use it. When compared to other types of air conditioners, portable units are going to be one of the worst for energy efficiency.

Across the board, portable units tend to have a lower Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) than other air conditioners. The overall efficiency will vary per each model or brand, and you certainly will find some units that have a higher EER than others, but for the most part, this appliance is not considered as one that is energy efficient.

However, they do have the advantage of allowing you to cool only one room at a time. This cooling strategy will help you save money and cut your overall energy usage, as you’re not having to pay to cool your entire home. From this perspective, one could absolutely make the case that it is energy efficient.


Do all portable air conditioners need to be vented?

Yes. You will need to vent your air conditioner. This is typically done through a window, but you can also buy a vent kit that works with sliding glass doors, casement/crank windows or through a dropped ceiling.

Most portable air conditioners will come with everything you need to properly vent the device, including an exhaust hose and an adapter that sits in your window sill. Just remember to follow the instructions for the model.





What is a window vent kit?

The window vent kit will come with your portable air conditioner. Typically made from plastic, this is the piece of equipment that sits in your window sill and connects to your exhaust hose(s) of the AC unit.

The window venting kit will typically fit most standard-sized windows and sliding glass doors. However, before you buy a portable air conditioner it would be wise to measure the window and ensure the venting kit that comes with the AC unit will fit in your home.

There are many venting kits available online, including many designed for larger windows and casement windows.


What if I can’t vent the AC unit?

That would be unfortunate. If you are unable to properly vent your AC unit, then this type of air conditioner will not be a sufficient cooling option for your home. You would want to consider an evaporative cooler.

Portable air conditioners work by moving hot air out of the room, so if you’re unable to use a vent, then the machine will not cool your room in an efficient or effective manner. You may feel some cooling if you are directly in front of the unit, but you’ll also notice some ambient heat building from the back.


Can I vent a portable AC through a dryer vent?

Sure, it’s possible. But, it’s probably not the best idea. This is definitely not a good idea if the diameter of the hose doesn’t fit the diameter of your dryer vent. Unfortunately, this is often the case, as many dryer vents in American homes have a diameter of 4 inches, and most portable air conditioners come with a larger vent hose.

If the diameters of the hose and dryer vent are the same diameter, you could attempt to vent your portable air conditioner in this manner. But, again, it’s not recommended and may lead to other problems. So, if you do attempt this, keep a close eye on the device until you feel confident that it is venting appropriately.


How long is the exhaust hose?

It varies. The hose or duct that comes with your portable air conditioner will vary from model to model, but they typically are at least 3-4 ft. in length.

Portable Air Conditioning Unit

You can buy longer (or shorter ones) at many retailers. While it is generally recommended that you buy a longer exhaust hose from the same brand or retailer that you bought your AC unit, this is oftentimes unnecessary.

However, it is important to understand that the longer you make the exhaust hose, the less efficient your air conditioner will be. This may also lead to your unit having to work harder to cool the room, which may cause the compressor to work harder than it should possibly shortening the lifespan of the air conditioner itself.

It would be wise to keep the exhaust hose shorter than 10 ft, unless you also have an exhaust fan of some sort that will help the hot air escape and allow your portable air conditioner to work in a more efficient manner.


Can I make my own exhaust hose?

Sure, but it’s not recommended. There are many scenarios in which a homeowner may desire a longer exhaust hose for their portable air conditioner. Unfortunately, the longer the exhaust hose, the less efficient the AC unit becomes.

If you want to replace the exhaust hose, it is best to buy one that is designed for this type of air conditioner, but if you’re in a bind or feeling handy, you can purchase many of the necessary materials at a hardware store, such as Home Depot or Lowes.

Keep in Mind: If you go this route, make sure the replacement hose is the same diameter as the previous hose or the venting duct in the back of the unit. Most portable air conditioners have a 5 inch hose, but not always. Double-check before you buy. You could also consider using a PVC pipe, but that, too, comes with many disadvantages.


What’s the difference between a single-hose and dual-hose unit?

The way the air moves in and out of the device. Choose a dual-hose, if possible.

  • Single Hose — All air comes in and vents out of the one hose.
  • Dual Hose — One hose is used to pull in air from outside, and the other hose is used as an exhaust.

Dual-hose portable air conditioners are considered to be the better of the two options, as it is more efficient and can cool your living space quicker than single-hose units.


Do portable air conditioners give off carbon monoxide?

No. Because it runs on electricity, you do not have to worry about a portable air conditioner emitting carbon monoxide into your home.

In extreme circumstances, it is possible for a portable or window air conditioner to pull in air from the outside that is high in carbon monoxide. This is possible when a fuel-burning device is directly on the other side of the window. These may include a running car, portable generator or a grill you may be cooking on.

Again, this is an extreme scenario and it is unlikely that a portable AC will pull in enough carbon monoxide for you to experience negative symptoms. But, just in case, it would be wise to know what is going on near the vent, as well as have a carbon monoxide detector in your home.


Is a portable AC the same thing as an evaporative cooler?

No. These are two very different cooling appliances, and not an ideal substitute for each other.

An evaporative cooler, sometimes called a swamp cooler, uses water and the process of evaporative cooling to help make the temperature of the room feel cooler. Unlike portable air conditioners, you have to add water to an evaporative cooler for it to work, and it does not require any sort of ventilation. These are great for garages and workshops.


How loud are portable air conditioners?

It depends on the model you buy. Like most appliances in your home, the amount of noise (or the decibel level of the device) will depend entirely on the model itself.

All types of room air conditioners will emit some level of noise, with some being louder than others. Most homeowners consider this as background noise or white noise, much like your refrigerator or dishwasher.

Unfortunately, decibel ratings are not a spec that manufacturers advertise for portable air conditioners. To get a better idea of how noisy a particular model may be, you will have to read over reviews for each unit and try to make an educated decision for yourself.


Can you soundproof a portable air conditioner?

Not really, but you can take steps to lower the noise. If you buy a portable AC and find it to be loud, you can take a few steps to lower the noise.

  • Softer Surface — Take a look at the surfaces the AC unit is sitting on. If you have it positioned on a hard floor, then you should try to put a small rug underneath the unit. This will help lower the amount of vibration of the compressor and internal fans, and help make it a little more quieter.
  • Change the Fan Speed — It’s also important to note that the decibel level will likely change depending on the fan speed that the device is currently operating on. If it is operating on the highest speed, you will likely hear a little more noise.

Again, the above steps can help you soundproof it, but you will never be able fully eliminate the sound a portable air conditioner makes while it is operating.


What type of electricity do portable air conditioners use?

For typical residential use, portable air conditioners only need to be plugged into a standard electrical receptacle found throughout your home. You will not need any extra power or a special wiring setup to use this type of air conditioner.

The only time you may need a special plug or a dedicated circuit for operation, is for large commercial-sized air conditioners.


Can you use it to cool multiple rooms at the same time?

This depends on a few factors, but is certainly possible. These include the environment in which the air conditioner is being used, how well the air is circulated in this area, and the BTU rating of the device itself.

As an example, if your living space is very open and you’re using a high-BTU unit, then you may feel a cooling effect throughout the entire space. However, if you have a lower-BTU rating and the space is contained with lots of doors and walls, the device will have trouble cooling all areas in an effective manner.

To help you cool larger rooms, consider using a small fan near the air conditioner to help the cold air reach far corners of the space.


Will these AC units work for garages?

Not really, at least not very efficiently.

You can use them pretty much anywhere there is a plug, including inside your garage or workshop. Unfortunately, if your garage door is wide open or the area is not well-insulated, then it is unlikely that you will feel the temperature drop.

To cool your garage, you should consider using an evaporative / swamp cooler.


Will these AC units work for server rooms?

Absolutely! In fact, cooling a server room is one of the most common uses for a portable air conditioner.

Due to the heat that servers generate, especially when clustered together in a small room, it is crucial for you to keep them cool in order for them to operate in an efficient manner. Because of this, portable AC units are often used in conjunction with a central air conditioner to help cool the room with the computer equipment.

If you have a small server room in your home or small business, you may have buy a special vent kit or longer exhaust hose to properly vent the AC unit.


Is a portable air conditioner the best choice for me?

It depends on your situation. This type of air conditioner is great for anyone that wants to cool one room or area of their home, but is unable to do so with a window unit.

Ask yourself these questions:
  • Do you want to have a window A/C unit sticking out from your home? If not, then you should go with a portable unit.
  • Do you live in an area with a zealous Homeowner’s Association? If so, then they’ll likely have rules in place to prevent window units, therefore leaving a portable air conditioner as the best choice.
  • Do you care about your energy usage of a room air conditioner? If so, then a window unit is going to be the best choice for you.
  • Are you capable of installing a window unit? If not, then perhaps you skip the hassle and go with a portable AC.

Keep in mind, a portable air conditioner is a popular cooling option used in millions of homes around the world, but they certainly comes with their own set of pros and cons. If you do your research and make an educated buying decision, you’ll be happy with your choice.


Where can I buy a portable air conditioner?

You can buy portable air conditioners from a wide variety of retailers, both online or in stores.

Before you buy a portable air conditioner at Walmart or Home Depot, we would recommend browsing your options online and narrowing down which model would be best for your home. You don’t have to buy online, but you’ll at least have comfort in knowing that you made an educated buying decision.

Have a question that you didn’t see listed here? If so, please add it down in the comments below.