Low prices and high efficiency make portable air conditioners and window air conditioners inexpensive room air conditioner alternatives to central air for cooling one or two rooms. Some 5,000- to 6,000-Btu window air conditioners now cost less than $150. If you’re looking for information about portable air conditioners and window air conditioners, Consumer Reports is your best resource. Consumer Reports’ air conditioner reviews will give you honest buying advice that you can trust. Use our air conditioner buying guide to discover which portable air conditioner and window air conditioner features are most important to consider. We also provide unbiased air conditioner Ratings and air conditioner reviews to help you choose the best air conditioner for your needs.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

St. Patrick's Day 3.17

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How much energy does an Energy Star dryer save?


When you’re shopping for a new clothes dryer you’ll finally see the Energy Star logo on some dryers. Washing machines have long carried the Energy Star but for years dryers used about the same amount of energy and, without impressive differences in energy use, there is no Star. Consumer Reports tested six Energy Star-qualified dryers. Should you buy one? Here’s what you’ll want to know before you decide.

Dryers that qualify

Energy Star dryers can be used in regular or energy-saving mode. To earn the Energy Star a dryer must be at least 20 percent more efficient in energy-saving mode than dryers that meet the federal minimum efficiency standards for 2015.

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Make the most of your microwave


You can use your microwave for a lot more than making popcorn and reheating leftovers. It drastically cuts cooking time on things like veggies, fish, and shellfish. Baked potatoes can be zapped in the microwave and finished in the oven.

Steam and poach. These water-based cooking methods are ideal for the microwave and make moist, tender vegetable and seafood dishes. To steam veggies, place them in a microwave-safe dish with about a tablespoon of water and cover (if you use plastic wrap, don’t let it touch the food). Zap for a couple of minutes until done.

To poach chicken, put boneless, skinless breasts in a microwave-safe dish. Pour white wine or other liquid over the chicken and cover. Cook until chicken reaches 165° F on a food thermometer (about 5 to 8 minutes).

Precook. Nuke a potato before crisping its skin in the oven or par-cook corn, ribs, and chicken before grilling. Finish cooking immediately.

Defrost. Although chicken and meat tend to toughen when fully cooked in the microwave, you can still put that defrost setting to good use. Place meat in the microwave just for a short time, until it begins to soften, then finish cooking immediately in a conventional way.

Melt.  For a quick dip for fruit or an icing for cake, place chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe dish—but don’t cover it, because any water from condensation will make the chocolate stiff and grainy. Heat on medium for a minute, then stir until smooth. If not melted, nuke for 15-second intervals, stirring after each.

You can melt butter in the microwave in seconds. And if you like nachos, the cheese will melt nicely in about a minute.

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