licensed havac technicianHaving a some system to keep your home cool feels like an absolute necessity, especially during the hottest time of the year. An air conditioner is the logical solution for keeping your family comfortable and creating a cool refuge from the blistering outdoor temperatures.

Air conditioning didn’t become common until the 1970s. Many older homes were designed for passive cooling, integrating construction features to help keep temperatures bearable naturally. Because central air conditioning is a more recent advancement, many older homes do not have one.

If you want to add air conditioning to an older home, you have two options.

Window Unit Air Conditioner

The easiest, cheapest, and fastest option for cooling your home is a basic window unit. Purchase and installation usually costs at most a few hundred dollars.

A window air conditioner is usually a temporary solution. Since they are not installed permanently, the initial upfront cost is relatively low. However, this is not a whole-home cooling solution. Window units cool only small indoor areas effectively, usually just one or two rooms. For this reason, if you want to keep your entire home cool, you will need several window units to do the job.

Drawbacks to Window Air Conditioners

  1. Window units tend to make excessive operating noise. Because the operating components rest in a window, the equipment’s running noise is more likely to interfere with normal activities like watching television, listening to music, or having conversations.
  2. Window units are temporary and relatively easy to remove from your home’s windows. This also makes your home more susceptible to break ins. A burglar can simply remove the unit from the outside of your home and gain entry through the empty window.
  3. Window units are unattractive. Many people consider the external equipment an eyesore. Many homeowners associations restrict use of AC window units for this reason.
  4. Since window ACs cool only small areas, you may need to run several to maintain a comfortable temperature in all areas of your home. For this reason cooling your home could generate higher utility bills than running a whole house air conditioner.

When to Use a Window Unit

Even though a window AC is often inefficient, noisy, and unsightly, there are still certain situations where they are the best choice.

Window units are best suited for apartments and rental units. If you are renting your home, investing in a central cooling unit is probably not something you are willing to do. However, if you want to stay cool, a window unit is a fast and affordable way to do it. And if you need to move, you can easily take your portable window unit with you.

Many older homes may not have existing ductwork to support home cooling. There may also be design or space constraints that prohibit ductwork from being properly installed. FOr those older homes, window units are a more practical cooling solution.

A window unit is also more practical if you live in a climate with mild or short summers, where cooling is only necessary for short periods during the year.

Whole Home Air Conditioner

A whole home air conditioner is the permanent solution for home cooling. A whole home system provides cooling for every living area, where a window unit only cools a small area.

Installing a whole home air conditioner requires an investment of several thousand dollars. It may also require additional work to facilitate the unit. For example, ductwork installation may be necessary for your unit to properly function. This will add additional cost to your project.  

Installing a whole home cooling system is not a do-it-yourself weekend project. You will need the help of a qualified technician for your safety, to meet local codes, and ensure your unit functions properly.

However, a whole home air conditioner is generally the best cooling solution for most homes. In the long run, a whole home system will use less energy and more effectively and efficiently cool your entire house. They maintain even temperatures throughout your living spaces for optimum comfort.

A whole home air conditioner also offers better air filtration than a standard window AC, as well as help optimize indoor humidity. The result is increased comfort, a reduction in allergens many health issues.

To learn more about window and whole home air conditioner installation, contact your local HVAC experts.