With the lack of built-in air conditioning in the majority of Puget Sound area homes, many people are turning to portable air conditioners to beat the heat wave.

But if you’re one of the Western Washington residents who just got a portable air conditioner for the first time, you may be wondering how to use it most efficiently — so you don’t end up wasting energy or breaking the bank.

Isaac Spice, manager of McLendon Hardware’s Woodinville location, said portable air conditioners and box fans are the most popular items right now among customers who want to cool off.

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He offers a few tips for those new to the refreshing breeze of air conditioners — such as placing a box fan in a window directly across the room from the portable air conditioner.

“Create a wind tunnel. So if you have an AC, an air conditioner, you want to have a box fan blowing that hot air out of your home,” Spice explained. “So you’re kind of creating a vacuum.”

Cooling down an entire house or apartment uses quite a lot of energy, so Spice recommends focusing just on the area of the home you are using, and closing doors of rooms in which you are not spending time.

“The real trick is to, one, try to create that wind tunnel. Second is to block off the areas that aren’t used in the home so you’re not cooling unnecessarily,” he advised.

Still, this doesn’t mean keeping just one room of the house air-conditioned, like a room-sized refrigerator in which you can ride out the heat wave.

“If you’re just cooling one room and there’s nowhere else for that air to go, it’s going to kind of waste your power,” he said.

Additionally, people should make use of the air conditioner’s thermostat. Set the thermostat not to the lowest number, but to what you would call a normal room temperature. Compared with 90 degrees, 70 degrees will feel wonderfully refreshing, Spice said.

“A lot of customers don’t realize that every air conditioning unit has a thermostat. So you set it to a temperature that you’re comfortable with and just let it go … set it to 70 degrees and let it do its thing,” Spice said. “It will turn off when it reaches 70, it won’t get you to 69, 68 degrees.”

With temperatures remaining high for the next few days, it is best not to wait if you are serious about getting a portable AC.

“Air conditioners, obviously, with the weather … [sales] are spiking,” Spice said. “We’ve ordered everything that we have available.”

He recommends people buy the product online ahead of time and then pick it up in the store, to ensure they don’t make a wasted trip. Right now, however, things look promising for customers.

“They’re moving at a decent pace, but I do have a lot [in stock] — I’ve seen it worse,” he said.