It’s summer time. The mercury is rising and you’ll do just about anything to keep cool.
Luckily, modern technology has provided us with a wonderful tool for beating the summer heat: Air conditioning! Not only do AC units keep our homes cool, but they also help us combat humidity, making us even more comfortable in the sweltering heat.
In fact, air conditioning has become pretty much standard in the United States. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, over 100 million American homes are now equipped with air conditioning. That means around 87% of American households are using AC to keep cool. This is up from 68% in 1993. As air conditioning units become more energy-efficient, and affordable, this percentage is only going to rise.
Unfortunately, for all of their technological wizardry, AC designers haven’t figured out to keep central units from being an eyesore. You work so hard to keep your lawn and the exterior of your home beautiful. But there it is, that garish AC unit, ruining your hard work.
Additionally, depending on where you live, AC units have recently become a target for petty thieves. Copper piping is an essential part of any AC unit, and this metal can be sold for scrap. Because units are outside, they are easily accessed in the night and won’t set off security alarms. Therefore, hiding your unit will also work to deter crime.
But fear not! We’ve put together this handy guide on how to hide your AC unit. These simple, do-it-yourself approaches will instantly give your home and outdoor space more curb appeal.
So, whether you’re planning a swanky garden party or trying to make sure your home stands out on the housing market, all of us at Smart Touch Energy are here to help you hide your air conditioner.
Some Important Reminders Before You Hide Your AC
Before we get to some of our favorite techniques for hiding your AC, there are some important considerations that you need to keep in mind.
- Don’t Block Ventilation:
Air conditioning units need to be well-ventilated. If you limit air flow, you will cause your unit to work far less efficiently and, in some cases, break. So whatever design you choose for hiding your AC unit, make sure there’s plenty of space for exterior air flow.
- Keep It Accessible:
Sometimes, things can go wrong with your air conditioning unit. As a result, you don’t want to build anything around your unit that will prevent repair workers from accessing it. Make sure that whatever solution you settle on can be easily opened or moved. This can either be an easily removable panel or a design that is broken down quickly.
Furthermore, you’ll want to be able to clean out debris, such as fallen leaves, that might accumulate over the year. You don’t want to give yourself more backbreaking work because you created hard-to-reach places through your design.
Some General Design Tips
Now that we’ve covered some technical issues, there are also some general exterior design approaches that should guide you as you think about the best solution for hiding your AC unit.
- Guide the Eye Elsewhere:
One way to disguise your outdoor eyesores is to give people something else to look at. By directing visual interest away from your unit, you can then construct a simple screen to transform your air conditioner into an unassuming background feature.
- Turn Your AC Into a Creative Centerpiece:
However, if the location of your AC unit makes distraction impossible, you can instead go the opposite route and make it an intentional part of your design. By surrounding your air conditioner with a creatively and evocatively designed structure, you can turn something you want to hide into a conversation piece.
- Coordinate With Your Home:
Finally, the most effective designs will coordinate with the larger design aesthetic of your home and landscape. A dramatic classical revival structure probably won’t mesh well with an otherwise modern design. If your overall design is contemporary, stick with clean lines. If your home instead looks like it was pulled straight out of the English countryside, let that aesthetic guide you.
Japanese gardens are beautiful, serene and easy to maintain. So, if you’re looking to give your landscape — along with your AC unit — an Asian-inspired makeover, consider building a bamboo fence around your air conditioner.
Bamboo has a number of advantages. First, it’s very affordable. You can easily find low-priced bamboo rods at a home and garden store. Second, it’s easy to work with. Because bamboo is so lightweight, you won’t have to break much of a sweat putting together a bamboo screen.
To take your bamboo screen to the next level, stain it in order to coordinate with other wood tones in your landscape. You can even arrange your bamboo slats to create a wave effect if you want to create the illusion of fluidity in your outdoor space.
Coordinate your bamboo screen with rounded river stones and take your Zen-like design to the next level!
Strategically Placed Potted Plants
Another easy option is to simply place large potted plants in front of the offending unit. These have the double advantage of being a snap to design and easy to move when you need to clean or service your AC.
Large pots come in many colors and can easily be made to coordinate with the color of your home. Depending on your design preferences, you can even find boldly patterned pots that will make even more of a statement.
When choosing your plants, just make sure you go for hardier varieties. Because air conditioners blow out a lot of hot air, the plants around them will need to be strong enough to weather the tropical breezes. Furthermore, make sure the plants are appropriate for the amount of sunlight they’ll receive. Because most units are located next to your home, your house may shade the area for much of the day.
Finally, be sure not to place your plants too close to your unit. Depending on the type of plant, you don’t want a lot of debris falling into your air conditioner.
Old shipping pallets are all the rage in the DIY design community. Considering their size, they’re perfect for hiding an AC unit — especially if it resides in a corner of your landscape.
In order to elevate the appearance of your shipping pallet, you need to first sand it. Because the wood on pallets is unfinished, it will be rough and splintery when you first get it. However, after a little work from a handheld sander, you’ll be surprised how nice and professional the wood can look.
Next, you can either stain the pallet or paint it. If you have the quintessential white picket fence, a white wash on your pallet with make it fit right in. If, instead, you want to make your AC hiding solution pop, you can paint it a bold red or blue. If you have a brick home, especially an older house, a dark stain will blend in well.
If you want to take it to the next level, consider artificially distressing your pallet. This will give it an antique look, making it seem like it’s been there all along!
A Pre-Made Privacy Screen
We get it: Not everyone is up for a DIY project. Luckily, pre-made privacy screens are the perfect size for hiding an air conditioning unit.
These screens have the added benefit of being weather-resistant, as they are often designed for poolside use. That means they’ll be easy to clean and won’t suffer weather damage.
They come in a number of colors, so just head over to your local home supply store and find one that goes well with your home design aesthetic.
An Iron Trellis
If you’re looking to do some landscaping around your unit, an iron trellis could be the perfect solution. These are designed to give climbing vines something to latch onto, and they have a great Old World look.
If you’re planning on combining a trellis with some ivy, just make sure you maintain access to your unit. Once the plants start to latch on, the trellis with be hard to move, so you want to provide maintenance workers with the space to get behind it and work.
You also want to make sure your vines stay on the trellis and don’t migrate to the unit. So stay on top of your pruning!
Another chic repurposed design option is to surround your unit with antique shutters. Because mismatched shutters often go unpurchased at architectural resale stores, they can be found on the cheap. Plus, while unmatched shutters might look funny next to your windows, they’ll look quirky and interesting as a garden design element.
If you find shutters in a color you don’t like, or the shutters are in like-new condition, don’t be afraid to repaint and distress them. By painting them and giving them an uneven sanding, the original color will show in places, giving them the appearance of years of wear, even if they’re only a couple years old.
Plus, they can be easily set up and taken down for those times when you need to access your unit.
Lattice work is perfect for surrounding your AC unit. On the one hand, it offers significant coverage, as the slats cross both vertically and horizontally. At the same time, they offer good air flow, meaning you don’t have to sacrifice functionality.
If you want to take it a step further, use ornate fence post caps to turn it into a statement piece. Plus, you can either paint or stain the fencing, giving you a limitless number of design options.
Turn the Area Into Equipment Storage
There are a number of products available at home improvement stores designed to hide ugly pool pumps and other pieces of equipment. These products are easily converted for hiding your air conditioner. Plus, you can use the extra space to hide other outdoor equipment, such as rakes and hoses. That way, all of your eyesores are hidden in one place!
Use Your Imagination
If you’re the creative type, don’t be afraid to go with your own ideas. You’d be surprised what you can do with some leftover lumber. For example, use those scrap 2-by-4s in your basement to create a slatted screen. Or, take some repurposed fencing and add your own mosaic pattern.
If you have a green thumb, create a vertical garden to surround your unit. Use an old pallet to grow tomatoes or herbs. Not only will you be hiding your unit, but you’ll also be putting food on your table.
Perhaps you’re a sculptor. Why not put your artistic talent to work by creating a statement piece that doubles as screen for your air conditioner?
As always, just remember to preserve access while also keeping air flow in mind. Other than that, let your mind run wild!
Getting Your Perfectly Disguised Air Conditioning Unit Serviced
While you may have succeeded in hiding your AC unit, every so often you’ll need to get your unit serviced. Luckily, not only are we full of exterior design advice, all of us at Smart Touch Energy are also air conditioning repair experts.
Our air conditioning repair professionals work all across the Northeast. So, if you’re in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland or Pennsylvania, there’s a good chance we provide service in your area.
Plus, we pride ourselves on our quick response times. Because air conditioners are most likely to break down when they’re working their hardest, we realize that you’ll want to get your unit up and running again as quickly as possible. That’s why we offer 24-hour emergency service. We know that an oppressively hot night without AC will likely be a sleepless night. We’re here to get you comfortable again as quickly as possible.
We also offer full tune-ups and inspections to help you avoid emergency mid-summer repairs. By scheduling routine maintenance before the summer begins, you’ll know that your unit will operate at peak efficiency when the heat wave hits.
If you need to have a unit replaced outright, we work with the most trusted dealers in the country. Our network of suppliers is built on the same customer-first principles that serve as the cornerstone of Smart Touch Energy. You can rest assured that, if your unit has an issue we can’t fix, we’ll connect you with a new unit that’s both energy-efficient and of the highest quality. And you can trust us not to try to sell you a service or product that you don’t need.
So, if your unit isn’t doing the job, or if you just want to make sure your air conditioning won’t fail you down the road, contact one of our courteous and well-trained service professionals. We’ll send someone out to make sure you can escape the heat all summer long. We look forward to hearing from you and becoming your go-to company for all of your cooling and heating needs!