Central Air Conditioning vs. Window Units: Which Is Right For You?

central air conditioning vs window unit

Heating and cooling accounts for almost 50% of expenses in an average home, so saving on cooling costs is a top priority for many people. It’s important to find the method that will cool your home in the way that will work best for you, ideally while saving energy and money. When it comes to central air conditioning vs. window units, which is the best choice? There are a few actors that can affect your decision to make sure you stay comfortable no matter the temperature outside.

What is Central Air Conditioning?

Central AC consists of a condenser that typically sits in the yard or on the roof and takes advantage of the house’s duct system to blow cold air into individual rooms. A set of pipes runs coolant from the condenser into the air handler.

What is a Window Air Conditioner?

Single-room window AC units consist of a box designed to wedge into a window. The box contains a condenser, an evaporator, a thermostat, and fans.

What Factors Affect Central Air Conditioning vs. Window Units?

Energy Usage

A window AC unit can use anywhere from 500 to 1440 watts of electricity to run, while a typical central air unit in the average sized home uses about 3500 watts. This metric has less to do with the size of the area being cooled (although that can play a part), and more to do with the amount of energy needed to actually operate the systems. Because the air for a central air system needs to flow through ducts with the use of the furnace blower, it uses more running parts. That adds up to a bigger power draw. At the same time, it will take more than 1 window unit to cool an entire house, if that is the goal.

Another factor to consider is that with window units it’s possible to cool only one room, like a bedroom, at a time, while many central air systems run throughout the house. This can lead to a significant reduction in energy use, although it is true that many modern programmable central air systems are capable of dividing a house into comfort zones and producing different temperatures for each zone.

Cost of Installation

Another factor to consider when deciding between a central air system or a window AC unit is the cost of installation. For window units, the installation is obviously do-it-yourself. For a central air system, you will need to hire a professional HVAC company to perform the installation for you, which will add to the cost. Responsible homeowners also need to factor in the cost of regular inspection and maintenance for their central air systems.

Convenience, Comfort & Value

One of the most important factors for many people is the convenience of the system and the level of comfort it can provide. With programmable thermostats that function with central AC systems, it’s easy to set the temperature you need at different times of day. Many people also find the consistent temperature of central air conditioning more comfortable than having some cool rooms and some hot rooms due to window units. Again, to cool a whole house it will take many window units.

Another factor to consider is that making the investment into central air conditioning adds to the resale value of your home. Central air is an attractive feature to most people.

Overall, the decision to go with central air conditioning vs. a window unit is really up to the individual homeowner. Each home is different, as are each person’s needs. For help making your decision or to consult an expert about your upcoming cooling project, contact Avonda Air Systems today.