The Best Cheap Air Conditioner

Americans spend $22 billion dollars on air conditioning every year.

That’s a lot of money, but in most places, keeping your house cool is unavoidable. Especially for states like Texas, Arizona, or Nevada, you need that air conditioning running every day all summer.

But there’s a way to stay cool and save money at the same time.

Cheap air conditioner options, like portable air conditioners or window mounted conditioners, can keep you just as cool as a central air conditioning unit for a fraction of the cost.

Take a look at this guide to find out what cheap air conditioning unit works best for you and how to make the most of it.

How Portable Air Conditioners Save You Money

Only Cool What You Need

If you work long hours in your home office every day but don’t use the kitchen, living room, or bedrooms much during the day, you can move a cheap air conditioner into the corner of your office and stay comfortable without paying to keep the entire house cool, saving you a chunk of money.

Even if you have to be in more than one room a day, you can mark the upstairs “off-limits” and get away with cooling the living room, kitchen, and master bedroom.

Air conditioning only the places you need is a great way to cut down extra electrical expenses.

Additional Cooling

Some places are just too hot to get rid of a central air conditioning unit entirely (we’re looking at you Texas), but you can still save money with a cheap air conditioner or two.

When you have a few wisely-placed portable air conditioners, you can set your central air conditioner at a much higher temperature than you normally would. It will still keep the house relatively cool, and you can add portable air conditioners to the rooms that really need it.

You won’t use as much energy if your central air conditioning unit is running at a higher temperature, so the summer electric bill won’t be as large.

Cool Only When You Actually Need It

There’s nothing worse than working all day and getting home to a sweltering house in the afternoon.

Waiting until you get home to turn on the air conditioning doesn’t work (it can take a while to reach the temperature you want), but leaving the conditioning on while you’re gone all day gets expensive.

Some cheap air conditioner models come with a timer. You can program the timer to run the air conditioner at a higher temperature when you’re gone and at a lower temperature when you get back.

You get to save money and be comfortable at the same time.

Multiple Benefits in One Unit

A lot of portable air conditioners can function as normal fans, air dehumidifiers, or even heaters during the winter.

If you decide to buy a cheap air conditioner with all these different functions, you can keep using it all year and really get your money’s worth.

Buying a Cheap Air Conditioner

There are a lot of different air conditioning options out there, so you want to take your time and make sure you’re getting one that will work well.

Air conditioner shopping may seem simple, but there are a lot of things to keep in mind if you want to get a cheap air conditioner that will last.

Size and BTU

You want to buy an air conditioner that will keep the room at the temperature you want.

You may be thinking, “Yeah, I don’t want one that’s too small,” but actually, you don’t want one that’s too big either.

All air conditioners have different BTU levels. A unit with a high BTU level, say 16,000 BTUs, has a higher cooling compacity than a unit with 7,000 BTUs. The bigger the room you’re trying to cool, the more BTUs your air conditioner needs.

Generally, when it comes to BTUs, you want to think of it roughly like this.

Rooms that are 300 sq. ft. or less should have an air conditioner with 7,000 to 10,000 BTUs. Rooms that are 300-500 sq. ft. should have an air conditioner with 10,000 to 16,000 BTUs, and rooms that are over 500 sq. ft. should have an air conditioner with over 16,000 BTUs.

This may not be accurate for your home, but it is something to keep in mind when you’re air conditioner shopping.

Power Cord

Most air conditioners should be plugged directly into the wall, so make sure it has a decent length cord. Even portable ones take a lot of power, and it is safest to plug them into an outlet instead of an extension cord.

Other Features

We’ve already mentioned that some air conditioners come with a timer or a heater, fan, or dehumidifier settings, but that is something to look for when you’re shopping. If they come with these other settings, you can feel pretty confident you are getting a good model.


This is something you may not have considered a big priority, but if you want to run a cheap air conditioner while you’re sleeping, you want to make sure it isn’t too loud.

The air conditioners that cost the least money will probably be louder than units that cost a little more. The extra money is usually worth it in this case.


Ever heard the saying “You get what you pay for?”

Even though you’re looking for a cheap air conditioner, you shouldn’t buy one that’s only $100-$200 dollars. Most good air conditioners should be somewhere over $300 dollars.

Getting the Most out of Your Cheap Air Conditioner

There are several easy things you can do to make sure your house is staying as cool as it can with your air conditioner.

1. Keep It out of the Sun

When your air conditioner is out of the sun, it stays cooler itself and is able to produce colder air.

It’s simple enough to keep a portable air conditioner out of the sun, but if you have a central air conditioner or a window-mounted air conditioner, it takes a bit more work.

Think about planting bushes, shrubs, or trees around the outside or your window mounted or central air conditioner. The plants will keep the units in the shade so they can run better and easier.

2. Keep the Curtains Closed

If there are rooms you aren’t using during the day, keep the curtains closed. This will keep those rooms cooler without any air conditioning and will keep any extra heat from spreading throughout the house.

This will also help your air conditioner from working harder than it needs to.

3. Save Hot Chores for the Evenings

Using the oven on a hot day will only make things worse. Your cheap air conditioner will have to work harder, it will take longer to cool the house, and you will feel sticky and miserable.

Chores like baking and running the dryer should be put off until the evenings or avoided completely if possible. You should also consider saving labor-intensive tasks for a different day if the outside temperature is too hot. You don’t want to risk getting heatstroke.

4. Use a Dehumidifier Alongside Your Cheap Air Conditioner

We definitely recommend doing this if you live in a place with high humidity levels, but it can be helpful for areas with drier weather as well.

A dehumidifier will make the air inside your home feel more comfortable. When you use it with an air conditioner, you may even be able to turn your conditioner to a higher temperature.

5. Keep Your Air Conditioner in Closed Spaces

Open rooms, like a kitchen with an adjoined dining room, are harder to cool than closed rooms.

If you can, close off your rooms as much as possible when using your air conditioner. This may include closing doors or shutting windows.

If you have a room that is unable to be closed off, you may want to consider a larger air conditioner with a higher BTU level. You can also get multiple small air conditioners and put them in different spots around the room.

6. Adjusting the Temperature Doesn’t Help

If a room is taking too long to cool off, messing with the thermostat won’t change anything. Adjusting the conditioner from 70 degrees to 60 degrees won’t make the room cool down any faster.

Instead of playing with the thermostat, think of other ways you can help the room get cooler faster in the future. Turn it on earlier than you think you need to. If you turn the air conditioning on before it’s hot outside, you won’t have to wait for it to cool down the room when it’s too late.

Your air conditioner will have to work twice as hard if you don’t turn it on until it is already 90 degrees inside.

7. Keep Your Air Conditioner Well Maintained

If you are ever worried about your air conditioner or think it isn’t working as well as it should, don’t hesitate to call someone in to look at it.

You don’t want your air conditioner to shut down for something that could have been avoided with proper maintenance.

Recommended Cheap Air Conditioners

Honeywell MN10CESWW 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

This cheap air conditioner comes with several different functions in one, including a fan for days that aren’t too hot, a dehumidifier for sticky weather, and a heater for the cold months.

This also comes with a timer, so you can shut off the air conditioner when you sleep or have it turn on and cool the house down before you get home from work.

The Honeywell comes with an easy-to-install window ventilation kit (easy enough you can do it yourself) and four caster wheels so you can roll it from room to room.

It is definitely a good choice if you need to cool rooms around 400 sq. ft.

Frigidaire’s FRA052XT7 5,000 BTU Window-Mounted Air Conditioner

This air conditioner is ideal for small rooms. Because it is mounted in the window, it sits off the floor, a great option for families with young children.

The Frigidaire window-mounted air conditioner cools off 150 sq. ft. rooms very quickly, and it is also very quiet. You can keep this running when you go to bed and sleep through the sound easily.

This air conditioner comes with a power cord, different temperature settings, and an adjustable design. It is also simple to use and restart if the power goes out.

EdgeStar Ultra Compact 8,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

This is a great air conditioner for medium rooms, about 150 sq. ft. to 250 sq. ft. It is compact, so it doesn’t take up much space and can be stored easily during the winter.

It comes with a dehumidifier option, three separate fan speeds, and a programmable timer. So, like the Honeywell, you can cool down the house while you’re away or while you’re asleep.

This cheap air conditioner can also be easily transported between different rooms on its caster wheels, which makes it a good choice if you move to different rooms throughout the day.

You can also clean the filter easily because it comes with a washable filter. You don’t have to worry about unhealthy air.

Cheap Air Conditioners Are Easier

Portable air conditioners are easier to use than central air conditioning, and they are a lot less expensive too. Not only are central air conditioners expensive to run, they can cost thousands of dollars to install.

Portable air conditioners are helpful because they can cool only the parts of the house you use. They can be moved from one room to another, so you can take it from your office on the weekends and use it in the living room.

Even though good portable air conditioners will still cost a couple hundred dollars, the investment will save you money throughout the summer and keep you comfortable at the same time. If you take your time when you’re shopping, pick a good unit, and treat it well, your cheap air conditioner can last for multiple years.

Looking for your own portable air conditioner to keep your house cool this summer? Get in touch with us and we’ll help you find the unit perfect for your house.

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