If you’re not among the lucky ones with central air, you either suffer through the summer months or have gotten very familiar with window air conditioners. I love my window AC and I can’t imagine a summer in New York City without it. But I don’t love how it looks. Whether you have the in-window version or a floor unit that exhausts through your window, ACs are heavy, clunky, and, in most cases, hideous. But they don’t have to be with so many new low-profile options available.
Aesthetically, the worst parts of window air conditioners are the front vents and the control panels. These make a unit that is already taking up part of your window even more visually distracting. We found a few low-profile window air conditioners that are easy on the eyes. But before we get to that, you want to make sure your AC is functional.
To start, you have to know what you need out of a unit. Air conditioners aren’t air purifiers (except for the latest from July and Windmill, but more on that later). The filter on your AC is to protect the machine, not improve your indoor air quality. John McKeon, MD, CEO of Allergy Standards, a company that certifies products as allergy and asthma friendly for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, explains that through-the-window units either take the air that’s already in your room, cool it, and shoot it back out, or take a mix of indoor and outdoor air, cool it, and shoot it back out.
Size matters when it comes to selecting an air conditioner. If the unit is too small for your space, it won’t effectively cool your space and it could overheat from working too hard. Check out this calculator to make sure you get the right size for your space.
When installing your unit, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If it’s installed improperly, water can leak into your home and cause moisture build-up. “When you use refrigerated air conditioners there’s always the potential for moisture drips,” says Dr. McKeon. “Make sure it’s not dripping on to the carpet or going down the back of a curtain causing mold and bacteria buildup.”
The most aesthetically pleasing low-profile window air conditioners
We love this Energy Star-qualified air conditioner because of the sleek silver mesh grill and top-of-the-unit controls. In addition to the on-unit controls, this A/C is WiFi compatible and connected to an app so you can control it from anywhere. It’s also compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa so you can control it verbally. It’s available with 6,000 BTUs ($270) or 10,000 BTUs ($439).
2. July Air Conditioner, $349
Yes, July’s air conditioner nice to look at, but it also doubles as an air purifier. You have the option of adding on one of two filters: an advanced pure air filter for general allergens and an odor-removing carbon filter for those who cook or live in polluted areas. It comes in two sizes, The Small 6000 BTUs ($349) and The Medium 8000 BTUs ($399). The front panel comes in white, woven gray, and ash wood, so you can pick the panel that matches your decor. And it’s also WiFi-enabled so you can control your unit from an app and turn it on when you get home. July is set to launch this summer, and if you sign up for the waiting list, you’ll have early access and 25 percent off the listed prices.
3. Windmill Air Conditioner, $395
This eco-friendly unit has a minimalist design that allows it to fade into the background of your living space. It’s smartphone-enabled so you can control it from anywhere. It also doubles as an air purifier, featuring a washable antimicrobial filter that blocks out dust and larger air particles, and a second disposable filter with activated carbon that blocks odors, VOCs, smoke, and various harmful air particles so customers can have cleaner, healthier air inside. The filter cartridges can be replenished through a subscription delivery for $48 per year. Windmill plans to begin shipping this summer. If you sign up for the waitlist you’ll have first access to purchase, receive a $45 discount off each unit purchased, and a free first year of filter subscriptions.
If you prefer floor units or don’t have a window that’s big enough for a window unit, turn to this Toshiba model. It’s sleek and doubles as a dehumidifier, which is perfect if you live in a hot and muggy climate. Keep in mind that it still needs a window to vent, so make sure you have a spot that will work for it. Get the 8,000 BTU model ($329) or the 10,000 BTU model ($379).
This floor unit is 14,000 BTUs, making it big enough to cool a space that’s up to 500 square feet. In addition to the on-unit controls and remote, it’s connected to a smart app so you can turn it on before you get home. You can also control is with voice command through Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
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