Many consumers are searching for reliable information when they start comparing central air conditioning vs window unit. Both systems cool interior spaces efficiently while dehumidifying the air but there are distinct differences.
How an Air Conditioner Cools Air
Most air cooling systems consist of heat pumps, compressors, fans, ducts and systems to circulate coolant. The system removes moisture and cools outside air before forcing it into the interior through a vent. Older units utilized coolants containing harmful CFCs but newer systems use environmentally friendly coolants.
Window Unit Features
A window or wall unit is installed in an open window or through an exterior wall and is capable of cooling a single room. The unit contains the cooling and ventilation systems and can be wired into the home’s electrical system or plugged into an outlet. Most of these systems use approximately 900 watts per kWh.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Purchasing a Window Air Conditioner
These units are portable and can be moved to a different location. Consumers must purchase the right size for the room. A unit that is larger than necessary will not be able to remove moisture from the air and the room will feel humid and clammy. A unit that is not big enough tends to run continuously, which increases the cost to operate. Window units are often noisier than central systems but are less expensive to operate and cost approximately $300 to purchase.
Central Air Conditioner Features
Central air cooling systems consist of a cooling coil, a blower fan, and a condensing unit, which is installed outside. In homes without a forced-air furnace, the cooling coils and fans are installed in an attic. The user sets the thermostat to control the temperature throughout the house. The typical 2.5-ton unit consumes 3,500 watts of power every kWh.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Installing a Central AC System
Installation of a whole house cooling system can be expensive, especially if the home is lacking any existing ductwork. A central system scrubs the air of impurities creating a more pleasant and healthier living environment. Consumers should purchase a system that has a high energy efficiency rating and make sure the home has enough cold-air returns.
How to Save Money on Operating Costs
To save money during the hottest months of the year, keep the thermostat set at 78 degrees. When the house is empty, set the temperature to 80 degrees or higher.
The blower fan should be kept at a low temperature to improve circulation. Regular maintenance should include cleaning ducts, replacing air filters and inspecting the vents and intakes for debris.
A professional should check the coolant level periodically. Preventive maintenance will extend the life of any type of air conditioning system.