I want to replicate this effect, it's hot air coming out of the laptop's heat vents, as can be seen form the 00:32 in this video
Do you guys know how I should go about making it myself, hopefully in a straight forward manner, since I am new to AE?
You need a displacement map. That is easily generated with fractal noise. Then you nest (Pre-compose) the fractal noise later and use that as a source for the displacement map effect. To figure out how to use either one of those effects simply type "displacement map" or "fractal noise" in the search help field at the top right corner of After Effects and check out the community resources.
Your composition would need a minimum of two layers. One layer would be the nested animated fractal noise layer. The other layer would be your original footage. The trickiest part of the whole equation is making the fractal noise pre-comp work the way it should to produce the distortion you want. The color values in the displacement map control how far the pixels move. 50% equals no movement, anything over that moves one direction, anything under that moves the other.