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Weatherproofing a
Window Air Conditioner

With another energy crisis upon us, we are being promised that the cost to heat our homes for the coming winter will be substantially more than in the past. It's going to behoove everyone to make every effort possible to tighten up our homes in order to keep the heat inside for as long as possible. Just about anything you can do to stop the flow of air in and out of your home through cracks and crevices in the outer walls and ceiling will save both energy and money.

Window and wall air conditioning units are two of the spots that have always been hard to seal. The metal air conditioner cabinets easily conduct cold from outside to inside. In addition, the interior design of window air conditioners allow air to readily flow straight through many of them.

The best way to prevent this cold air from leaking in and around these air conditioner units is to remove the unit from the window or wall for storage during the winter -- but that isn't always practical or possible to do.

Thin plastic covers to use on the outside have been available for a long time. Although they reduce the amount of air that can pass through the cabinet, they leave a lot to be desired. In addition, they're almost impossible to install on an air conditioner above the ground floor.

There are insulated covers for window air conditioners that are much better than the thin plastic ones. These blankets can be installed in a number of different ways. When I installed an insulated cover on an air conditioner in a double hung window, I was able to cover the air conditioner as well as the spaces on each side of the unit in the window.

Instead of using the Velcro fasteners that came with the cover, I decided to staple the cover in place. So that the plastic wouldn't tear when I removed the cover the following spring, I used a tacking strip made out of a plastic bleach bottle to staple through..

After cutting off the top of the bleach bottle I began cutting about a 1-inch wide spiral band around the bottle with a pair of heavy duty scissors. One large bleach bottle yields enough tacking strip for one air conditioner. You could also cut cardboard strips.

I started by stuffing fiberglass batting into all the little openings I could find around the unit and in the spaces on either side of the unit. Then I folded over the top edge of the cover a little bit and centered the cover on the bottom edge of the window frame where it sits on top of the air conditioner. Starting at the center, I stapled through the tacking strip and cover toward each side.

Next, I pulled the cover down over the front of the unit and did the same thing on the window frame below the air conditioner unit. For the two sides the cover has to be pleated to make a neat fit before securing it to the window frame edges. Installed in this manner the cover weatherproofs the air conditioner as well as the spaces around the unit.



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