In my 27 years on this earth, I’ve never lived in a place with A/C. I’ve always been about 10-15 minutes from the beach so the ocean breeze has helped keep things cool. But it seems like over the past few summers here in Socal, it’s been getting hotter and hotter. I know the weather here is pretty mild most of the year but when it does get to a hundred like it has a few times this spring/summer, it can be pretty unbearable.
While I empathize with those who don’t have an A/C, I’m also a landlord so I know just how expensive it can be to provide an A/C unit. In places like Arizona, it’s actually illegal for landlords to rent units without A/C’s since the weather regularly tops a hundred for weeks at a time during the summer. But I’d say a majority of rentals and even owner occupied properties out here go without them due to cost.
I spend most of the day in a cool office building so even when it’s 80-90 degrees outside, by the time I get home everything has cooled down. But when it’s over 90, things get hot and they stay hot. I broke into a sweat the other night just trying to cook dinner. That’s how I knew it was time for a change. Since I wasn’t able to live my normal life and go through my daily routine, I figured it might be worth it to buy an A/C.
Once I’d made up my mind, I quickly went on to Amazon and checked prices for A/C units. I found a nice highly rated window unit for $120 but it only fit vertical windows, all the windows in my place were horizontal. I found a couple YouTube videos (Warning: this guy is kind of a weirdo) that showed how to jimmy-rig the unit into my window type but I didn’t think it would work or be worth the hassle.
Instead, I had to get a portable unit that would sit on the ground and exhaust hot air to the outside. After some research, I found the unit I wanted but it was priced at just under $400. $400 to stay cool for just a few weeks out of the year seemed like a lot but I had just about had enough.
The 10,000 Btu A/C unit that I bought uses about 1050 Watts or 1.05 kW and my electricity company charges me $0.12/KWH. It turned out to be pretty inexpensive electricity-wise since it costs me less than 15 cents per hour and it’s pretty quiet too, it sounds like a medium sized fan is on. The set up was extremely easy and I had it up and running in less than 15 minutes.
So far it’s worked out pretty well since I can walk around the house again without breaking into a sweat. But it does cool only a small area, it isn’t made to cool an entire house or more than 1 large room or 2 small ones. If I want to cool the living room I have to move it in there and if I want to cool the bedroom, I have to move it in there. I still haven’t figured out what to do with the multiple exhaust pipe setups.
I’ve always heard about how people succumb to lifestyle inflation and I wonder if I’m in the midst of it. As you get older, you tend to want nicer things and that means you’ll spend more money. I try to weigh each financial decision carefully though and I like to consider more than just the monetary value of a purchase. For me, things like convenience and time can often outweigh the financial cost of a product or service. In this case, I was fed up of coming home after 8 hours of work and sitting in a freaking sauna. I wanted to be able to relax when I got home, not break into a sweat every time I got up to pee.
Everyone’s situation is unique though so I can’t tell you if a $400 A/C is a good purchase or not. That’s something you’ll have to figure out on your own. If you’ve got other more pressing financial needs, this might be one of those luxury items that you’ll have to pass up. But if you have the money and you value comfort and relaxation, then a $400 A/C might be one of the best purchases you ever make.
If you’re on the fence, remember this saying: when it’s cold out, you can always put more clothes on. But when it’s hot out, there’s only so much clothing you can take off. #wordsofwisdom
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Readers, how much would you pay for an A/C unit that you’re only going to use a few weeks out of the year? Is it worth it to be comfortable or would you rather just be hot and deal with it and spend that money on something else more important?
Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life says
I’m not sure that buying an A/C unit really counts as lifestyle inflation. Next time your in the market check craigslist. People are always selling them cause they’re such a pain in the butt to move.
Harry Campbell says
Ooh that is a good idea, thanks for the tip. I’ll have to keep on the lookout for one during the winter as I’m sure everyone wants one when it’s hot out!
I’m not sure how much I’d pay. I’ve been spoiled, and have always lived in a place with central air. I still try to save on costs by setting the temperature higher. We also have a ceiling fan in the living room that helps, as well as a few fans in the bedroom. Then again, I’m usually cold, so I don’t get too uncomfortable in the summer!
Harry Campbell says
My fiancee always makes fun of me because I get hot easily for whatever reason.
Mrs Pop says
Well, Mr PoP’s dad paid over $10K to finally out an AC unit in their house up north despite the family living in it just fine for over 25 years. One blazing summer two years ago and he finally had it! I wouldn’t recommend that.
My small apartment in Miami was fine with a window unit, and I agree that you can generally find them on CL for half of retail or less.
One small correction – AC is not a requirement in AZ rentals. Many older homes and rentals there still rely on swamp coolers, which are not AC at all and work in a completely different manner. And, they are also largely ineffective when it’s humid, which happens most often in July and August in southern AZ.
Harry Campbell says
Oh thanks for the info. Yea I’ve heard very mixed reviews about swamp coolers and I actually gave one to my tenant while the A/C was down. He said it didn’t help at all haha.
Jon @ Money Smart Guides says
I think for me, it all depends on how hot we are talking and how much I will actually use it. I can’t stand being hot when I lay down to sleep. Lying around during the day, I can handle, but not when it’s time for sleep.
Harry Campbell says
It was 90 degrees inside my apartment haha!
Tara @ Streets Ahead Living says
I would not consider a/c lifestyle inflation. The summers in NYC get very hot and humid and I can’t sleep when it’s hot. I would cut out internet before I cut out my a/c. I can suffer through the day sweating but at night I must sleep with the AC on. It doesn’t have to be crazy chilled, but it needs to be 75 or below. Generally an hour before bed, I turn on my window unit in the bedroom, close the door, and then have a nicely chilled room to sleep in.
Also, the sell window units for casement windows, but you might need to use a a specialty store to find one online. They’re not that cheap either but you probably could find one used.
In our apartment, the utility box is so terrible that the power gets tripped in our apartment so badly that we can’t even reset the power with our in-apartment utility box, we have to go to the basement to reset the power to our unit. Running two space heaters knocks off our electricity so I can only run one a/c at a time. I want to get a room unit for our living room area but I’m worried about a 10,000 BTU unit pulling on our electrical and it’s hard to find low BTU room a/cs…
Harry Campbell says
Yea I think you need about 10,000 BTU’s to do any real damage and I’m sure that’s tough for older electrical systems. I actually sleep fine when it’s hot and a fan is fine but during the day when I’m working and walking around the house is when I need A/C.