Which Air Conditioner Uses Less Energy - Window vs. Portable Units?

Shopping for an A/C unit? We're here to help. Learn whether window or portable models will use less energy

The lowdown on which type of A/C unit uses less energy: window or portable

Summer is here, and you have to cope with unpleasant temperatures in your abode. The chances are that you will be looking for a portable air conditioner or window unit air conditioner.

There are so many options around, making it difficult to decide which one to buy. Should you settle for a window unit or a portable air conditioner?

Before making an informed decision, get to know what each unit brings to the table and what makes choosing one over the other better.

What is the Difference Between a Window Air and Portable Air Conditioner?

Window units get mounted within the window of a home, which lets them draw in the air, only to push it out again.

Portable air conditioners can be carried around and used in other areas of the home. They have wheels to ensure it can be moved with ease from one place to another.

To answer the energy question, a window unit air conditioner generally uses less energy than a portable model. But both types of air conditioners will use significantly less energy than a central air conditioning system.

The Pros and Cons of Windows Air Conditioners

Window-based air-cons offer more of a permanent solution, since once they're installed, it's best to leave them in place until the end of the hot season. However, installing a central air conditioner is even better, if you can afford it.


  • Window air conditioners save space as they are situated inside the window and extend only a couple of inches to the inside
  • They cool a bigger space at a low cost
  • The noise is projected to the outside as there is no separate vent to worry over
  • They are often way more energy efficient than a portable air conditioner
  • Window AC might not be a plug and play situation, but they save a lot of time and costs in allowing one to relocate your window AC when the need arises.


  • They are challenging to install and can block your view
  • They need to be securely and properly installed to prevent injuries from passersby, especially if they are in a high-level apartment.

The Pros and Cons of a Portable Air Conditioner

One of the most notable benefits to a portable air conditioner is how easy it is to install them.


  • They are easy to take out of the box and simply plug in.
  • You can move them around from room to room rather easily.
  • They take up very little space when placed near a window.
  • When you do not need the air conditioning, you can just remove the vent.
  • They are good for awkward window situations, such as a narrow window or windows with bars on them.


  • Require floor space for a medium-sized portable air-conditioner, which requires you to rearrange your furniture in an already cramped space.
  • Additional space is needed to run your vent to the window, and the unit must be within close range to the window.
  • Humming noise might be an issue, depending on the model.

When Is it Viable to Opt for a Window Air Conditioner?

If energy efficiency and space is an issue, then it is viable to settle for a window air conditioner. People who do not like too much clutter would love the idea as well.

The added benefit is that you will experience better cooling power. This is why one needs to give attention to the BTU rating of the window AC. The higher the rating, the more powerful the unit.

Just like portable units, the window units feature remotes, digital thermostats, and timers.

When Should You Choose a Portable Air Conditioner?

Seen to be a powerful drawing card for selecting a portable air-con is how easy it is to install and that it is so much less hassle to do so.

As mentioned, the portability factor is favored by folks who do not have space issues or who are not too fazed by extra items in their room or other living areas.

Then, there are flexible installation options in that you can have a portable unit installed through a door by making use of an installation kit.

Regardless of your decision, either a window air conditioner or portable AC is super efficient at cooling your abode. It is a matter of deciding what you can or cannot live with when the time comes to make your decision between opting for a portable air conditioner or a window unit.

Whatever you do, never rush the decision process, but rather draw a useful comparison between the best air conditioners on the market.

Resources - Petro Home Services, iCastle, Home Air Quality Guides, Compact Appliance