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Hot? Maybe a used air conditioner would help and cost a lot less. Dealers who sell and service window air conditioners occasionally buy used machines or take them on trade-in. The previous owner may have purchased a larger unit, installed central air conditioning, put in new windows that would not hold the unit, or moved to an apartment or condominium that has central air conditioning. Sometimes these air conditioners are only three or four years old. (A well-maintained one should last 10 years or more.)

The dealer should have examined them closely and made any minor repairs that were necessary. A used air conditioner in good condition may cost $150 or under, less than half the price of many high-efficiency models.

If you would like a question considered for publication in this column, please send it to ''Moneywise,'' The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, Mass. 02115. No personal replies can be given by mail or phone. References to investments are not an endorsement or recommendation by this newspaper.

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