One of the most popular devices of the 20th century, the air conditioner is nearly ubiquitous in the United States. About 90 percent of U.S. homes now have A/C, which was once considered a luxury. It was not until window units were made widely available that indoor cooling became a reality. Popular in apartments and condominiums, these now antiquated devices are still used in about half of the American homes that have A/C equipment. The other half have central air conditioning, which is cheaper, more efficient, and better for the environment.
Window Units Vs. Central Systems
Anyone who has ever installed a traditional A/C unit knows that it is a huge hassle. These heavy, steel boxes have to be removed and replaced whenever the seasons change. They must also be cleaned and stored, which is often a problem if you have more than one of them. We should also mention the all-too-common issue of air conditioning repair.
Since window units are removed and replaced with great regularity, they often sustain damage in the process. Air conditioning repair may be needed when a unit is dropped or improperly stored, since even minor damage may hurt its performance and efficiency.
Central air is a great leap forward in home cooling, especially in warmer climates. It need never be removed or replaced and requires far less maintenance. Powered by large condensers that are usually located outside of the home and pump cool air to each room via ductwork, central A/C is powerful and efficient.
If central A/C is so superior, why isn’t it everywhere? One explanation that many people mistakenly believe that the installation process is extremely expensive. The truth is that these systems can be costly if installation also requires ductwork. However, if your home already has ducting, which most do to transmit heat, A/C installation should be relatively inexpensive.
Who Needs It?
Even though it is an old-fashioned, outdated device, there is a place for the window air conditioners. If you live in an apartment or move around a lot, it doesn’t make much sense to invest thousands of dollars in A/C installation and duct maintenance, when you could spend hundreds on removable, somewhat portable window units.
But if you plan to make a house a home, it makes sense to invest in central A/C. Not only will you save money on cooling costs and reduce your carbon footprint, your home will also be quieter and more comfortable without cacophonous window units. Add that to the money you will save on air conditioning repair and the extra storage space you will gain without multiple window units, and central air seems like a no-brainer for most homeowners.