How to make window AC smarter

A case study in making window air conditioners smarter: 

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How I Made My Ragtag Band of Window ACs Smarter Than Central Air

by Jon Chase

It is a timeworn custom of mine that, after enduring a few weeks of the inferno that is high summer in New York City, when the scorched streets shimmer with heat and a funky reek blankets the air, I tear my hair and rage at myself for not living in a place with central air conditioning. Like many other city dwellers, I depend instead on a ragtag band of window air conditioners, but running from room to room turning them on and off all day and night in hopes of not being bankrupted by the power company is a full-time job. As with many other modern conveniences, however, it turns out that you can use a few easy smart-home tricks—automated actions like Routines and Schedules—to make these machines more efficiently and comfortably cool your home by mimicking a whole-home system. (And yes, you can enlist Alexa’s help, too.)

If, like me, you already own several window units, the quickest path to smartening them up is simply to buy a smart plug-in outlet (also called a smart plug or smart switch) for each unit. You can find tons of models to choose from, but be sure to buy only the kind that is capable of handling the often high amperage draw of an AC unit—we like Wemo smart plugs for that reason (and a lot of other reasons; you can see them all in our guide to the best plug-in smart outlets). Once you set your smart switches up with your smartphone, you plug your ACs in and turn them on—and then the smart-home magic begins. At the most basic level, you can turn any or all of your ACs on and off, from anywhere you like, using a smartphone app. In fact, you can also use your voice to do that, via your phone or any smart speaker—Amazon EchoApple HomePod, or Google Nest. You can’t adjust the temperature or change the cooling modes this way, but you can preset your ACs to a specific setting so that they cool each room to its own temperature. (That’s usually impossible with central air, but a mini-split system can pull it off.)

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