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I rent an apartment in Anchorage, Alaska. In my 15 years in this state I have never even considered air conditioning, but this apartment gets beastly hot in the summer. It has huge windows facing south and slightly west that just bake the place. Even with fans on high in front of all windows that open, it easily gets over 90F (32C), even though the outside temperature rarely gets over 75F (24C). Dammit! I didn't move to Alaska to be hot! My apartment complex requires that their blinds be visible from the outside, making blackout curtains problematic. We are allowed window AC units, but I'm not finding any that are powerful enough for my main living area that will also fit into the obvious window.

I'm definitely looking for the least expensive effective option. While environmental issues are always a concern, I don't pay my own electric, so electric usage is less of a concern than it would otherwise be. I can get a small unit now that will fit in the small window early in the season and add another later if that will help.

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Window 1 is 16" wide. The opening is about 3 feet above the floor, and it is unobstructed by furniture. I wish I could find a 9,000 BTU unit that would fit there, but this 5,000 BTU unit is the only one I can find: Small AC Unit on Amazon. It says it is 16" wide, which is exactly how wide my window is (with perhaps 2mm of wiggle room). I will call the manufacturer before I purchase it to make sure that it will actually fit.

Windows 2 and 3 are 19" wide. They open about 1 foot from the floor. Flow from them will be blocked by the recliner, but I can pull it out to about 3 feet from the windows during the hot season.

The ceiling is level and of "average" height.

I might be able to squeeze this 10,000 BTU unit into window 2 or 3, but it will be close. I have less than 2mm of wiggle room. This 8,000 BTU unit will definitely fit. My biggest concern with units in either of those windows is that they will only be a foot from the floor.

So, if it will fit, can I get away with just the 10,000 BTU unit in window 2 or 3? Will just the 5,000 BTU unit help at all? Should I prepare to need the 5,000 BTU unit and the 8,000 BTU unit a month later (and hotter)? Is either window 2 or 3 a better option? I'm open also to any other advice you may have.

  • With window units I would go as big that will fit. A few years back I added a 240v circuit for my daughters rented apartment. You may not want to go to the extra expense but the 240v unit had a higher btu rating in similar size to a smaller 120v unit. – Ed Beal Mar 12 '16 at 9:50
  • "Even with fans on high in front of all windows that open, it easily gets over 90F " Why are the windows open to let in the hot air? We leave our windows open when it's cool (at night) and then close windows and blinds during the day when it's hot. We can easily get above 75 outside without needing the AC and are in a much warmer part of the country. – user20127 Mar 12 '16 at 12:18
  • @user20127 The air outside isn't nearly as hot as the air inside. – Jolenealaska Mar 12 '16 at 13:44
  • It's hotter inside because of solar load. The unit will be much more efficient if it's in the shade, so northern or eastern exposure. – Harper Mar 12 '16 at 17:57
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I'd go with 2 5,000's side by side in windows 2 & 3. However, if any of the 3 operable windows are top & bottom tilt-ins for cleaning & therefore both sashes can be completely removed. Then, I'd go for a thin but Tall AC unit, click the right scroll bar 4-times to see the larger models. As you'll see these would even fit quite loosely in window #1, the preferred window.

  • What would be the advantage of 5000 BTU units in windows 2 and 3, vs a 5000 BTU unit in window 2 and another in window 1? – Jolenealaska Mar 13 '16 at 1:15
  • You can do them anywhere of course & splitting them might yield the best effect. However, I was thinking if either window 2 or 3 were used & the recliner moved for 1 unit then why not for 2 units. You also have a good fixed window return deflector wall to assist in a circular air circulation. – Iggy Mar 13 '16 at 1:33
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I understand it may not be practical, given that you don't own the apartment, but the obvious and sensible (and energy-efficient) solution, to me, would be to have proper overhangs on the south-facing windows that prevent solar gain through the windows in the summer (but allow it in the winter, due to lower sun angle).

If possible, I would see if the owner or whoever's responsible would consider doing this for all the windows in the apartment. It seems smarter to go to the one-time expense of proper window overhangs and save tons of recurring expense on electricity.

In New Mexico where I live, I can definitely feel the difference in a building with south-facing (and west-facing, but those are trickier because some sun will always come in late afternoon/evening) windows with proper overhangs vs. one without them. It makes a large difference in the cooling load.

IF you still needed a/c after proper overhangs were installed, the cooling load would be a lot less.

Best of luck!

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