Watch CBS News

Essentials Shopping

The 7 best air conditioners in 2024 could slash your electric bill

The 7 best air conditioners in 2024

Are you ready for the summer heat? Now's the perfect time to replace or upgrade your air conditioners, so when those temperatures start to climb, cool air will literally be only a few button presses away. 

When it comes to the latest window air conditioners or portable air conditioners, the best models have some really cool features, like the ability to remotely control the unit from your smartphone or use voice commands through a smart speaker or home hub.

Many of the latest models are far more energy efficient than they were just a few years ago, so over time, you might save money on your electric bill, especially if you invest in an air conditioner that's Energy Star-rated.

For even more help on picking an air conditioner, be sure to check out our coverage of the six best portable air conditioners in 2024 and the six best window air conditioners in 2024

What is the best air conditioner in 2024?

We tasked our in-house appliance experts to curate this roundup of the best window and portable air conditioner options available. Here are the seven best options we recommend. The air conditioners featured here offer between 5,000 to 23,500 BTUs of cooling power, so be sure to choose a model that best fits your living space and budget. 

Best air conditioner overall: Midea U-shaped air conditioner (12,000 BTU)

Midea 8,000 BTU U-Shaped Smart Inverter Window Air Conditioner

If you're looking to cool a space smaller than 550 square feet, we recommend the 4.4-star-rated Midea U-shaped air conditioner. It runs quietly (operating at less than 32 dB), offers 12,000 BTUs of cooling power and features a U-shaped design that makes it simple to install in most windows. 

We chose this air conditioner as our top pick, because among its features are a dust filter and DC inverter technology that uses 35% less energy compared with traditional AC units from competitors.

Our favorite feature, however, is the unit's smart functionality. Instead of using the included remote control, you can run this air conditioner with a specialized app on your iOS or Android smartphone, or using voice commands if you have an Amazon Alexa smart speaker or home hub. And yes, this air conditioner has received Energy Star certification and is competitively priced. What more could you possibly want from an air conditioner that'll keep you cool all summer long?

Need to cool a slightly smaller room? You can get the Midea window air conditioner with 10,000 BTU of cooling for $394 after $25 instant coupon at Amazon, or the 8,000 BTU model for $337 after $20 instant coupon.

Best portable air conditioner: Midea Duo MAP14HS1TBL (14,000 BTU)

Midea Duo 14,000 BTU

The Midea Duo portable air conditioner is not only relatively quiet -- generating no more than 42dB of sound -- but it's also mighty, with 14,000 BTUs of cooling power that can cover up to 550 square feet of living space. Control it with a handheld remote, dedicated mobile app or voice commands.

This unit measures 16.73 x 19.53 x 34.48 inches. It uses a dual hose-in-hose design that intakes fresh air and releases exhaust outdoors. The single combo hose allows for balanced air circulation indoors and prevents hot outside air from seeping in through gaps. The unit's design also cools your living space up to two times faster than some competing portable AC models.

And as an added bonus, the Midea Duo serves as a portable heater, so you can use it in any season.

Best value portable air conditioner: Amazon Basics portable air conditioner (10,000 BTU)

Amazon Basics portable air conditioner

As part of its popular Amazon Basics product line, Amazon makes a portable air conditioner which customers absolutely love. It has earned a solid four-star rating and features onboard wheels and side handles to help move it from room to room. 

Hot hair is let out through a window using the unit's expandable outtake hose. It comes with a venting kit with sealing, side panel leaf covers, bracket and a handheld remote. You also get three speeds, three cooling settings and an automatic timer, which gives it versatile cooling capabilities.

Ideal for an average-size room (up to 450 square feet), this Amazon Basics portable AC unit offers 10,000 BTUs of cooling power. It measures 18 x 28 x 14 inches and weighs about 60 pounds.

Best budget window air conditioner: Amazon Basics air conditioner (5,000 BTU)

Amazon Basics Window Mounted Air Conditioner

Best suited for smaller rooms and households on a budget, the Amazon Basics air conditioner doesn't offer a lot of fancy features, but it does provide easy installation and 5,000 BTUs of cooling power (enough for a room that's up to 150 square feet).

If you're not at all tech-savvy, you'll appreciate that this AC unit has well-labeled, mechanical dials to control the unit. It fits within a window that's between 13 x 23 and 13 x 36 inches. Choose between seven temperature settings. You can even manually adjust the air direction. It comes with a window mounting kit.

As part of the Amazon Basics product line, this air conditioner is backed by Amazon and has earned a solid 4.3 out of 5-star rating (based on 3,000+ user ratings).

Best window air conditioner for a small space: GE Profile CearView (6,100 BTU)

GE Profile ClearView Window Air Conditioner

We all know GE as the company that since 1982 has been bringing "good things to life." And in this case, the goodness comes from having a cool room during the hottest and most humid days of summer. This version of the popular GE Profile ClearView window air conditioner offers 6,100 BTUs of cooling power but generates only about 41 dB of noise. This makes it ideal for smaller spaces. 

This model fits windows between 20 and 40 inches wide, with a minimum 13-inch opening height. It can accommodate walls between 4.5 and 13.75 inches thick. And while you get onboard controls and an included remote control, this ClearView AC unit also has smart capabilities and works with GE's SmartHQ app. This means you can remotely control the air conditioner from almost anywhere using your smartphone or with an Amazon Alexa smart speaker (or home hub).

The unit offers three fan speeds and four cooling modes. Meanwhile, the ClearView design allows the unit itself to wrap around a window sill. This means you can still look out the window and allow more natural light into the room. We like this air conditioner because it cools, circulates and dehumidifies the air simultaneously. And if 6,100 BTUs isn't enough power, a similar 8,300 BTU ($421) model is available.

Best window air conditioner for an average room: LG smart window air conditioner (12,000 BTU)

LG 12,000 BTU Smart W-Fi Enabled Window Air Conditioner

As long as the room you install this window air conditioner in is less than 550 square feet, you can expect high-end performance being offered at a highly competitive price. This is a 12,000 BTU air conditioner that measures 23.62 x 15 x 22.2 inches. It offers adjustable four-way air deflection, three fan speeds, built-in dehumidifier functionality and generates no more than 55 dB of noise. 

What we like most about this LG air conditioner are its controls. You get an onboard control panel with a digital display, an included remote control and smart functionality (so you can control it from your smartphone and the ThinQ app, or using voice commands through a smart speaker or home hub).

We're also fans of the unit's flexibility. On the hottest days, you can use its air conditioning and dehumidifying capabilities, but on warm days, you can rely on just the unit's fan. If it's raining or very humid, you can activate the unit's "dry mode" feature to remove moisture from the air. A window installation kit is also included.

Best window air conditioner for a large room: LG dual inverter smart window air conditioner (23,500 BTU)

23,500 BTU DUAL Inverter Smart wi-fi Enabled Window Air Conditioner

For areas of your living space that are large -- up to 1,440 square feet -- this LG window air conditioner is up to the task of keeping that area of your home at a comfortable temperature throughout the summer. It offers a whopping 23,500 BTUs of cooling power, which is one of the most powerful units you'll find for in-home use.

Based on the features you use, the unit generates between just 44 dB and 62 dB of noise. Like the LG 12,000 BTU air conditioner showcased above, this unit had air conditioner, dehumidifier and fan functions, along with a four-way air deflection system.

Thanks to the built in dual inverter, this LG air conditioner will save you approximately $100 per year on your electric bill, compared to competing models that do not use the dual inverter technology. As a result, this air conditioner has received Energy Star certification.

The unit has an LED display and intuitive control panel. It also comes with a remote control, but its advanced smart tech will work with your iOS or Android phone in conjunction with LG's ThinQ app. Plus, you can use voice commands to control the air conditioner if you have a smart speaker or home hub that supports Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

What are BTUs and why are they important in an air conditioner?

The air conditioners we've included in this roundup offer between 5,000 to 23,500 BTUs of cooling power, but what does this mean? It indicates how much energy an air conditioner uses per hour to cool your home. The higher its BTU rating, the more cooling power it has -- but the more energy it uses.

It's important to choose an air conditioner with enough power to cool down the space where you're using it. Before purchasing any air conditioner for a specific room, measure that space and calculate its square footage. The AC unit should use 20 BTUs for each square foot of space you want it to cool. So, without you having to do any math, here's what that equates to:

  • 100 to 149 square foot room = 5,000 BTU air conditioner
  • 150 to 250 square foot room = 6,000 BTU air conditioner
  • 251 to 300 square foot room = 7,000 BTU air conditioner
  • 301 to 350 square foot room = 8,000 BTU air conditioner
  • 351 to 400 square foot room = 9,000 BTU air conditioner
  • 401 to 450 square foot room = 10,000 BTU air conditioner
  • 451 to 500 square foot room = 12,000 BTU air conditioner
  • 501 to 700 square foot room = 14,000 BTU air conditioner
  • 701 to 1,000 square foot room = 18,000 BTU air conditioner
  • 1,001 to 1,200 square foot room = 20,000 BTU air conditioner

Most brands promote a unit's BTU power, as well as the square footage each model is best suited for. While you may be inclined to choose your air conditioner based on its appearance and price, you could easily wind up with a unit that's too weak for your space, or hogs too much electricity. 

Other things to consider when choosing an air conditioner include how much noise it makes, whether it comes with a window installation kit suitable for your window, overall dimensions, and what features it offers (such as smart functionality or an included handheld remote control). 

To save money on your electric bill, we also recommend an air conditioner that's received Energy Star certification. Based on an air conditioner's Energy Star certification, you could be entitled to a rebate, which will save you some additional cash.

For reviews, roundups and details on the best deals in consumer tech, tools and equipment, be sure to read our continuously updated tech and home, kitchen and outdoor coverage. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.