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Central Air vs. Window Units: Which Option is Best for You?

In the hot summer months, it's hard to know whether you should invest in a central air system or window units to keep your home cool. Abt breaks down the advantages of each.

Getting Started

When it comes to sweltering, humid summer heat, you need to keep your house cool. The question is, with what? Do you foot the bill and install a complete central air conditioner throughout your home, or will a window air conditioner unit do just fine? At what point does it make sense to invest in a whole-house AC? Below we break down the benefits and drawbacks of each option to help you decide if you should make the switch.
Girl in front of a fan

Central Air vs. Window Units: Advantages and Disadvantages

Central Air Advantages and Disadvantages

Central air conditioners are a much more popular option for homeowners who plan to reside in their homes for a long time. This option makes even more sense for homes that already have a forced-air furnace and ductwork installed.
Central air systems, like those offered by Trane, offer the advantage of cooling the entire home, instead of just one room. As a result, central air systems are more energy-efficient than other options. Also, central air offers a quieter, less noticeable sound while running. They are also discreetly hidden and out of sight. One thing's for sure, central air systems will never block your window's lovely view.
The major downside is that central air generally comes with high installation costs, as opposed to a window unit that you can install all on your own. However, installing central air is sure to increase your home's resale value.
Window Air Conditioner with Remote Control

Window Units Advantages and Disadvantages

Window unit air conditioners have come a long way. With recent innovations, some window units are Energy Star certified and designed to provide increased energy efficiency. You might recognize some popular, energy-efficient brands, such as Frigidaire, LG and GE.
Although window units are excellent at cooling a room or two at a mere fraction of the cost compared to central air units, they are generally not concealed. Window units are easily visible to people inside and outside of the house. But although window units are not often considered aesthetically pleasing, you can remove them and place them into storage during the winter months.

What Is the Cost of Central Air Conditioning?

The cost of central air conditioning depends on a variety of factors. For instance, the size and floorplan of your space, as well as the installation rate of your contractor, will affect costs significantly. Even after you get a quote, your home's complexity could raise the cost. It's essential to obtain several bids from AC contractors if you're looking to find the most competitive price. To get a general idea of what an AC install might cost for your home, call or email one of our air conditioner installers.
Central Air Conditioner Outside

Central Air vs. Window Units: Questions to Help Decide

As you decide between installing a central air conditioning system or a few window units, here are some questions to consider:
  • Are you a homeowner? If you are, central air is a much more feasible option. However, if you're a renter, you may have to use window units unless you can convince your landlord otherwise. This option might be a stretch for renters.
  • Will one or two AC units be enough? If your space is small and needs just a few AC units to do the job quickly and efficiently, it's probably a cheaper option than central air conditioning, which can increase your energy bills if you're cooling down an entire house.
  • Will it take more than two window units? If your space needs more than two window units, you could be at the tipping point. In other words, the cost of three or more units could equate to the cost of a down-payment on a central air conditioning system. The electricity and operating costs for multiple window units will also increase, making central air more affordable in the long run.
  • Can you afford central air conditioning? Obtain free bids from installers so you can make an informed decision.
In general, central air makes sense when your cooling needs go beyond a couple of rooms, or if you intend to stay in your home for many years. Still, you'll need to be able to afford the installation costs.
Whether you decide to install a central air conditioning system or use a window unit, be sure to check out Abt's comprehensive Air Conditioner Buying Guide. The guide will help you explore everything from the appropriate BTU for your space, the voltage, updated styles, special features, and all the bells and whistles to find the perfect fit for your needs.

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