For homeowners who plan to live in the house for several years, central air conditioning is a more popular option, particularly for a home that is equipped with a forced-air heating system. Central air conditioning costs a lot more to install than a couple of room units—figure $3500 or more for central AC—but central AC cools the entire house, is more energy-efficient than running several portable units, is quieter than room air conditioners, is hidden from view, and is an investment that ads to the home’s value. For more about how a central system works, see How Central Air Conditioning Works.
Before making a decision, also be sure to check out HomeTips’s information on Heat Pumps, which can be a more affordable means of cooling many homes than central air conditioners.
Choosing Between Room & Central Air Conditioning
So, when deciding between buying one or more room air conditioners or a central air conditioning system, ask yourself the following:
1Do you own your house? If not, you’re stuck with room air conditioners unless you can talk your landlord into installing central AC.
2Will one or two room AC units do the job? If so, this is probably your best answer because you can get AC working quickly and relatively inexpensively, and your energy bills will be lower than they would be if you were running central air conditioning.
3Will it take more than two room AC units to meet your cooling needs? If so, you’re nearing the tipping point. The cost of three or more room AC units would make a good down-payment on central air conditioning. And operating three or more room AC units can really boost your electric bills.
4Can you budget for central air conditioning? It pays to, at the very least, get a couple of bids from air conditioning contractors so you know what the cost would be. Bids are free and are necessary to make an informed decision. If your cooling needs call for central AC, you intend to stay in your home for several years, and you can afford the initial cost, it usually makes sense to opt for central AC.
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