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Leaving your window air conditioners in place during the winter isn’t a great idea, both for your energy bill and your comfort levels — cold air will leak in around the unit, warm air will leak out, and the unit itself could suffer unnecessary wear and tear due to being exposed to cold winter conditions for months. You need to properly store your window air conditioners for the off-season. But how?
Prepping your air conditioners for winter storage isn’t complicated. The hard part is usually lifting the heavy units out of their windows and carrying them to the basement, attic, garage, or self-storage unit. Before you stash your window air conditioners for the winter, make sure they’re nice and clean. Store them in an upright position, and cover them with something to protect them from dings and scratches in storage.
Even small air conditioners are heavy, so you might need someone’s help to remove the units from your windows. Spread old towels on the floor and carefully place the units on them for cleaning. The towels will protect your floor from scratches and soak up any water that leaks out of the unit while you’re cleaning it.
Once you’ve removed your air conditioners from your windows — or gotten the help of someone suitably burly to do it for you — you’ll need to give them a good cleaning before storage. Keeping your units clean helps them last longer and function more efficiently.
First, remove the washable filter from your air conditioner, if it has one, and run the vacuum hose over it to remove any loose dust, pet fur, or lint. Then soak the filter itself in a hot water and vinegar bath for about an hour. Wash it carefully with a mild soap, like dish detergent, and let it dry.
While it’s drying, wipe down the front and back of the machine with the water and vinegar solution, taking care to clean both what’s inside the window and outside the window when the unit is installed. Make sure to remove and clean the front grille, too.
It’s best to store your window air conditioner in an upright position so you don’t damage the compressor. If you have to store your window unit on its side, make sure that you have time to leave it in its upright position on the floor for a few hours before reinstalling it next spring or summer. This will give the compressor fluid inside the machine time to resettle into its optimum position.
Did you hang on to the original box for your air conditioner? If so, it’s time to break it out. Storing your air conditioner in its original box protects the unit from dings, scratches, and other damage while it’s in storage.
If you don’t still have the box, though, don’t despair. You can wrap a thick plastic garbage bag around your air conditioner to protect it in storage, or use duct tape to wrap it in cardboard. There’s always a use for all those Amazon delivery boxes!
If you can’t remove your unit from the window for the winter, for whatever reason, you can use air conditioner covers to provide insulation for your home and protect the unit from cold weather. Interior covers are thickly quilted to keep out drafts, while outside covers provide weatherproof protection against the elements for the portion of your unit that hangs outside the window.
Ideally, you would remove the exterior cover from your window unit and winterize the exposed components by covering them with a thick plastic bag. Tape the bag in place, then replace the exterior cover. Cover that with an exterior air conditioner cover. Cover the inside of your air conditioner with an interior A/C cover.
Removing your air conditioners from their windows is a sad autumn ritual, but at least it’s nice to free up the windows again for a few months. Take good care of your air conditioners, and they’ll serve you faithfully for many summer heatwaves to come.