SAN ANTONIO – It feels like someone flipped the weather switch to San Antonio sauna. If your house is hot and sticky and you don’t have central air conditioning, a window unit can crank up some cool relief.
Consumer Reports just tested dozens of window AC’s including a newer U-shaped design that allows you to open and close the window without a heavy AC unit falling out the window.
The installation is a little different from a traditional window AC.
“It still needs a special bracket to be installed first. Once you do that you can slide the AC into place, and the window closes down into this U-shaped groove,” said Consumer Reports’ Chris Regan.
Just note that you might not be able to fit some windows with the screen.
And now the important question: Can it cool a room?
Consumer Reports testers cranked up the air temperature in a special chamber to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, then measured how long it takes a window AC to cool the room by 10 degrees.
“Most of the window air conditioners do a pretty decent job. The best can do it quickly and quietly,” Regan said.
Two of the U-shaped units from Midea stood out, earning top scores for cooling and noise in Consumer Report’s tests.
The Midea U-shaped MAW08V1QWT is for idea medium-sized rooms about 250 to 400 square feet. It costs $360.
And for larger spaces, Consumer Reports recommends the Midea MAW12V1QWT U-shaped unit that costs $470.
If you only need to cool down a small spac -- anything under 300 square fee -- the LG LW6019ER get the job done for about $280.
Not every space can accommodate a window AC, so Consumer Reports also tested portable air conditioners. These typically cost more, use more energy, and tests showed they don’t perform as well as window units.