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Portable air conditioners are a cool way to chill fuel bills

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Dear Jim: How effective are the lightweight portable air conditioners that can be rolled from room to room? I have central air-conditioning, but I need extra cooling in some rooms at times. Are they efficient?

- Jay K.Dear Jay: These lightweight portable air conditioners (A/C) on casters can make economic sense for houses with or without central air-conditioning. They certainly make sense from a comfort standpoint.

Some models weigh only 36 pounds and have easy-to-carry handles for stairs.

Even with central A/C, what house doesn't have a room that is always a little too warm or uncomfortably humid. If you set the thermostat down to keep that one room comfortable, the rest of the house gets too cool.

This is not only uncomfortable, but it pushes your electric bills sky high.

People often use a portable A/C unit in the kitchen while cooking. After dinner, they roll it into the living room while watching TV. At bedtime, it goes to the bedroom that is always a little too warm. All portable models plug into standard 110-volt wall outlets.

Most portable A/C models use small quiet rotary compressors. The best models have thermostats, multispeed fans and oscillating louvers to distribute the cool air evenly throughout the room.

If you plan to roll one into a bedroom at night, select a model with a time-delay shut-off. You can go to bed while the unit is cooling and have it shut off automatically after you fall asleep to save electricity.

On most models, a small flexible clothes dryer-type duct runs from the back of the unit to a window or door to transfer the heat outdoors. They come with adjustable adapter panels to fit any window or door. You can move them from window to window in less than a minute.

The most powerful and quiet design is a mini-split system. A lightweight compressor unit hangs outside the window and is connected with a small hose.

Small room units help some, but new whole-house models, like the Sahara on casters, dehumidify more efficiently.

Write for (or instant download - www.

dulley.com) Update Bulletin No. 935 - a buyer's guide of portable air conditioners, room and whole-house dehumidifiers, weights, sizes, features, prices and a cost-to-use chart.

Please include $3 and a business-size SAE.

James Dulley, Deseret News, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244.

Dear Jim: I plan to build one of the efficient solar decks that you described several weeks ago. I want to use all cedar. What is the best method to treat the support posts?

- Bob M.

Dear Bob: These attractive solar decks are really energy savers year-round. Cedar is a good choice for it, but it does require special preparation.

Soak the end (that will be in the ground) of the cedar post in a preservative like Cuprinol. Put about 8 inches of small aggregate in the hole and set the post in. Add another couple of inches of aggregate.

Pour in the concrete and be sure the top surface slopes away from the post.


Additional Information

Small outdoor compresor unit is attached by a small flexible hose through any window or door

Small one-room unit is only 11" by 14" by 26" tall

Many models have oscillating cool air louvers

High-output design uses water to help super-cool the air

Most models are mounted on casters to move easlity from room to room