Review: I Never Thought I Could Love an AC Unit Until I Met the Windmill AC
Here’s why you should switch out your clunky window air conditioner
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As a kid, I knew summer had officially arrived not by the last day of school or the sticky weather, but by the loud rumbling of the living room’s bulky air conditioner. Sometimes I’d even kneel on the couch and stick my face right up to the vent, breathing in the oddly intoxicating smell of refrigerated air. (Sounds weird I know, but try it sometime!)
For years, clunky AC units were all I knew. The only time I could relish in what I consider to be the height of luxury — central air conditioning — was in friends’ houses, then later in office spaces and (finally) in my mom’s house about five years ago. But my apartment in Queens, believe it or not, does not come with a whole-home air-conditioning system. So for the past three summers now I’ve been beholden to a pretty basic AC unit I inherited from my grandma’s garage. It’s white, loud and — I’m not proud to admit it — a receptacle for mold.
Well, at least I was until about two weeks ago when I made the long-overdue switch from a classic, cumbersome unit to the more modern Windmill AC.
There’s a good chance you’ve come across an Instagram ad for one of these new direct-to-consumer air conditioner brands promising a good-looking AC unit that produces clean air, is easy to install and is quiet AF. Not going to front, the ads were almost as intoxicating as refrigerated air. I felt my mood, my life even, would drastically change for the better if I had a sleek AC unit, one that didn’t disrupt my room’s aesthetic like Mr. Moldy did.
I kind of hate to admit it, but I do believe my mood slightly changes whenever I gaze over at my beautiful new air conditioner from Windmill, a startup that has some family ties to another 60-year-old air conditioner business. Here’s why:
Maybe looks are everything
The Windmill AC looks almost toy-like in my window. It’s noticeably smaller compared to any other AC unit I’ve owned in both height and width and almost blends in with my walls. That’s because they’ve sleek-ified the hell out of this thing.
Unlike most air conditioners which feature vents on the front, the Windmill AC blows air up through vents located on the top of the unit. Supposedly, this angle is better at pushing air out into your room and cooling down your space, but it also adds to the minimalist design, making the vents almost invisible. Beyond that, the auto-dimming LED display and tiny on-unit buttons are also nearly imperceptible. Perhaps a tad bothersome if you’re far-sighted, however, you never really need to touch anything on the unit because…
What I never knew I needed: A smart window air conditioner
The Windmill AC can be controlled in a myriad of ways. The unit comes with a comparably sleek remote control, but can also be commanded via the Windmill app for iPhone and Android, as well as with voice control through a Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.
This truthfully might be my favorite aspect of the Windmill. Sure the looks are great, but now I never have to awkwardly lean over my bed to switch my AC unit off (or worry if I’ve left it on).
Everything You Need for a Cooler, Less Sweaty Night of Sleep
All product-testing done by an honest-to-goodness sweaty sleeper
With the Windmill app, I can seamlessly control everything from anywhere. I can turn the unit on (sometimes I do this from the sidewalk in front of my building) and set my preferred temperature, fan speed (Auto, Low, Medium or High) and mode (Fan, Cool or Eco) with the touch of a button. The app also shows me the current temperature of my room at any given time. Despite the sweltering city heat outside, my room stays a cool 69 degrees.
Other things I like about the Windmill AC:
Installation seemed to be a breeze: Admittedly, I did not install the unit myself. Instead, I had my landlord do it because I 100% would have dropped it on some poor passerby’s head. However, I did watch my landlord put the unit in and it looked like a painless endeavor. The directions say installation should take about 45 minutes, but it took half the time. Likely because the install kit is pre-assembled, so all you have to do is secure it in your window and pop on the cosmetic side panels (if you so choose).
Price is affordable compared to similar brands: The Windmill AC comes in two sizes: small (6,000 BTU) and medium (8,300 BTU). The smaller size is ideal for rooms 250 square feet and below, and costs $365, while the medium AC unit is recommended for rooms up to 350 square feet and will set you back $395. Compare those prices with July, another modern DTC air conditioner brand, which offers the same exact specs, but for $144-$164 more. Granted, I have never tested July’s unit so I can’t say for certain the experience is comparable to Windmill’s. However, the latter’s price is in line with most other smart AC units on the market, which isn’t bad considering this one is sexy.
Save the planet and save some money: Windmill recently launched an interesting energy management program for NYC customers called EcoRewards. For users that enroll, Windmill will automatically reduce their energy use during peak demand (2-4 degrees), which will help decrease the risk of overloading the city’s electrical grids. In return, users can receive up to $60 in rewards such as cash-back, donations, filter subscription or a discount on an additional Windmill unit.
A good option for the eco-conscious: In addition to the new program, Windmill is aware of air conditioning’s carbon footprint. So they use a more eco-friendly refrigerant called R32 that has “68% less global warming potential” than the more commonly used R410a. On top of that, the brand helps offset the carbon footprint of every Windmill unit purchased by investing in tree protection and restoration projects.
Just one caveat…
Despite its insistence that it’s a “quiet” alternative, the Windmill still makes noise. However, I’d compare its sound level to that of the Dyson SuperSonic Hairdryer: noisy but noticeably less so than your run-of-the-mill blow dryer.
But as long as you, like me, don’t mind the low rumbling of refrigerated air, the Windmill AC will change the way you feel about window air conditioners to the point where you just might fall in love with one. And besides, the subtle rumble is just another reminder that summer is here.
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