Don't suffer in the heat with crank out windows! These simple, rental friendly solutions will allow you to have a casement window air conditioner this summer!
Our upstairs rooms have casement windows (also known as crank out windows), making a traditional in-window air conditioner impossible to install. In the past, we avoided going upstairs altogether on the hottest days!
But I've found three simple ways to set up a casement window air conditioner, to keep our upstairs cool all summer long!
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What is a Casement Window?
A casement window, also known as a crank window, operates on a hinge like a door instead of sliding on a sash. They usually swing outward, which is nice for catching the breeze but doesn't help when the air is still and hot.
Supposedly, casement windows are more energy efficient and are more soundproof than sliding windows. But it's more difficult to install an air conditioner in them without leaving a gaping hole around the perimeter!
Casement Window Air Conditioners
If you do a search online for casement window air conditioners, you won't find many good options. They're typically taller and skinnier than traditional window units, so it can fit into sliding windows or ones that have a smaller section that pushes outward.
But there are a few drawbacks to these casement window air conditioner units.
- You'll need to attach the mounting bracket to the outside of the house, which can be difficult in a second story room or a rental.
- These units are very heavy and require two people to install.
- If your entire window cranks outward, you'll have a lot of surface area to cover up in order for your air conditioner to work properly.
Luckily, there are other options that may work better for your situation.
Portable Air Conditioners
Instead of mounting a heavy unit in the window, a portable air conditioner rests on the floor and uses a vent pointed outside. It's easy to remove the vent when the weather cools down, so you can open the window instead. Unfortunately, the vent brackets won't work with a casement window! 🙁
You need a way to push the hot air outside and prevent it from coming back in. Plus, without a screen, bugs and critters can wander in! Here are a few good options for how to vent a portable air conditioner with crank out windows.
Plexiglass Window Inserts for Portable Air Conditioners
This was my first idea, and it turns out I'm not the only one who thought of this option! I was debating screwing the Plexiglass directly to the window frame, but this video shows how one homeowner replaced his window screen with a custom made Plexiglass insert instead.
The downsides to this method are that big acrylic sheets are expensive, and it's difficult to cut a perfect hole for the exhaust vent without cracking. Check out my tips and tricks for cutting Plexiglass if you decide to tackle this task on your own.
If you don't want to go the DIY route, you can custom order a plexiglass insert that fits both your window and your portable air conditioner vent perfectly! TAP Plastics has an easy online ordering system just for this type of product. If you're on the west coast, you can even bring your vent adapter to the store and they can cut a hole to fit exactly!
Foam or Plywood Window Insert
This method uses the window vent insert that comes with the portable air conditioner, coupled with a piece of rigid foam or plywood to block the rest of the window. This would also work if you want to install an air conditioner in a sliding window as well. You can see how one homeowner did it in the video below.
This is a fairly cheap and easy solution, but also has its own drawbacks. We only have one window in this room, so blocking off all the sunlight isn't really an option. Plus, a strong gust of wind would knock a foam insert right out!
Plywood would require multiple screws to be drilled directly into the window frame. It would also block out all the sunlight and look like a boarded up window from the outside.
Fabric Window Seal for Portable Air Conditioners
I stumbled upon this fabric window seal kit on Amazon, and it was cheap enough that I decided to give it a try. This is definitely the most renter friendly option, and a good temporary solution if you only need to use your air conditioner for short periods of time.
This portable air conditioner window seal kit comes with a triangular piece of fabric with a zipper down the middle and Velcro along the edges. You also get a roll of adhesive Velcro and large zip ties.
How to Install the Window Seal
The instructions weren't exactly clear, so I thought I would do a quick tutorial on how I installed the fabric window seal.
Our window frame was filthy, so I removed the screen and gave the entire thing a good cleaning. This will help the adhesive Velcro stick better.
Apply the Velcro to the window (the part that moves) and the window frame (the part that holds the window in place when closed).
Find the widest point of the fabric, and attach it to the side of the window opposite from the hinge. Make sure the zippers will be on the inside where you can actually use them!
Work your way around the frame, folding the fabric at the corners to make a 90 degree turn. I had a little extra fabric at the ends, but I just tucked them outside.
Apply the other side of the fabric the same way to the non-moving part of the window.
Then just crank out the window, open the zipper and stick out the vent. I tried to wedge mine between the window and the outside trim so it wouldn't move.
Then close the zipper around the vent, and thread the zip tie through the pull. This keeps the zipper from opening and letting in those pesky bugs!
It's certainly not the most attractive option, but it works great and allows sunlight into the room! When the weather cools down, I can remove the fabric and put the screen back in about 15 seconds. The casement window can still open and close normally, so I can leave the Velcro in place year round.
Now that we have a casement window air conditioner solution in place, we can go upstairs on those hot summer days!