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The dog days of summer are officially here, bringing fun in the sun and … the dreaded humidity, heat waves and relentless sweating. If you don't have the luxury of central AC (like me), the only thing that can get you through the rest of the season is a trusty window air conditioner unit.
As a diehard “fashion over function” type, the thought of investing in a clunky, noisy box that would take up half of my precious window space hurt. In addition to being an eyesore, I was worried about the damage that window units, or power inverter air conditioners, might do to my monthly energy bill (and the planet!). That is, until I tried a new, design-forward unit in my NYC apartment, when all of my hang-ups around air conditioners went — literally — out the window.
I initially heard about the Windmill unit on TikTok, where people were praising its modern and aesthetically-pleasing design. When I got the chance to try it out, I had to see for myself what all the hype was about. I made use of Windmill's white-glove installation service to get the unit safely into my fifth floor apartment window, and the team was in and out in under 15 minutes — a testament to the unit's user-friendly installation process.
First of all, the machine is incredibly sleek, with rounded corners and an inconspicuous front vent and control panel. Its display fades after 60 seconds, eliminating pesky blue light that would otherwise keep me up at night.
But as nice as it looks in my window, nothing beats the refreshingly cold air that immediately blows from the machine as soon as I hit the power button. The thoughtfully designed unit directs airflow up and out — instead of blasting at my waist like cheaper fans I've tried — for a more even distribution. Plus, it does all this while staying quiet.
For the last couple months, this AC unit has steadily cooled my apartment with no problems, but the recent string of New York days pushing 100 degrees has put it to the ultimate test. Thankfully, these blistering heat waves have been no match for this machine, which has adjustable temperature controls, four fan speeds, and three cooling modes: "fan," "cool" and "eco." In about 30 minutes my bedroom — which is about 200 square feet in size — drops an impressive 10 degrees. And although the 8,300 BTU unit is only designed to cool down small to medium spaces, I've noticed that my entire 600-square-foot apartment is more comfortably chilled in just a couple of hours.
But my favorite part is that it has its own app, where I can adjust all of the settings and control the unit from anywhere through my phone. Being able to start my AC as I head out of the office has been such a game-changer this summer — no more coming home to a hot, stuffy apartment! I have yet to try the voice-control feature, but users can also connect to the unit through their Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
I'm happy to report that this unit is designed with the environment in mind. It uses R32 refrigerant to cool the air, which the brand says is "a responsible choice that has 30% less global warming potential than the more commonly used refrigerants on the market today.” Windmill also recently created an optional initiative called Eco Rewards, which is said to ultimately decrease the risk of overloading electrical grids that can cause blackouts, excess pollution, and higher energy bills. The program allows Windmill to remotely tweak your AC settings during peak demand by a barely detectable 2-4 degree difference. By signing up, you're not only helping to conserve energy, but you can also earn cash and other rewards.
In addition to testing out the Windmill, I scoured the internet for some more aesthetically-pleasing window air conditioners. See a few of my favorite finds below for staying cool this summer.
More attractive air conditioners to shop
This “design-forward” unit from July is a home decor dream. Its front panel comes in a tasteful array of colors from Ash Wood to Forest Green, and the brand says it outputs “2/3rds less emissions than other A/Cs of its size.” You can either install the brand's patent installation frame and unit yourself (July calls the process "ridiculously easy") or choose white-glove service at checkout. The July device is also WiFi-enabled and can be controlled through mobile apps and smart home assistants.
This Midea Window Air Conditioner sets itself apart from the rest through its U-shaped design, which allows you to open or close the window while the unit is installed — haters of accordion side panels, rejoice! The ability to bring the window down into the concave center also aids the unit in being extra quiet, as it's said to muffle the noise generated from the exterior half of the machine. Beyond its unique U-shaped form, the overall design is unobtrusive, making for a great option if you prefer to have your window air conditioner blend into the background of your home.
Another low-profile option is this unit from Frigidaire. Its minimalist mesh grill and front controls make for a sleek look that won’t attract too much attention in your space. It boasts extra-quiet performance and award-winning efficiency, with the brand claiming that it “offers up to 46% annual energy savings over a standard air conditioner.” That’s great news for both the planet and your energy bill. Compatible with WiFi, this unit can be controlled on mobile devices and through smart home assistants, too.
Looking at this modern window AC, you'd never guess that TOSOT has been producing air conditioners just like this one since 1991. This window unit got a full makeover in 2020 and has been dubbed the "Tranquility" model for its focus on cooling quietly. In fact, the brand claims that it is 20 percent quieter than most window air conditioner units, built with an advanced air duct system and a multilayer design to block out noise transmission. According to the brand, this thoughtful design makes it "as quiet as the local library."
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