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Central Air vs Window AC: Which is Cheaper?

by The Cooling Company, on Jun 27, 2016 10:31:44 AM

image of central air conditionerAs energy costs rise, it’s more important than ever to think about the energy efficiency and cost effectiveness of maintaining your heating and cooling system. For instance, which will be more efficient and less expensive: a central air unit or 3 wall/window units?

Central Air or Stand Alone Unit

Comparing window/wall air conditioners with central air depends on a bunch of different factors. Here’s a discussion of the differences as well as a verdict.

AC Unit's Impact on Energy Usage

As far as energy usage, a central air conditioner will use far more energy than window or wall units. A window unit typically uses 500-1400 watts to run while a standard central air unit for a 1500-2000 square foot home will use an estimated 3500 watts. A central air unit will use more energy because its operation also involves the furnace, increasing the amount of parts running in comparison.

Layout of Your Home Plays a Part

There are other factors that influence costs besides the unit itself. For instance, what is the state of the ductwork in the home? Are there leaks, or is it old and in need of replacement?

Correctly installed insulation is also important when it comes to central air units. An additional factor to consider is the size of the home and how big the unit will need to be to properly provide adequate cooling. These things will add to the overall cost of the central air system.

Cost of the Upfront Installation

The cost of installation when comparing central air and window units is significantly different. Central air units require professional installation and usually a large scale of work, especially if ductwork needs to be repaired or replaced.

They also need regular service and upkeep that is not involved with owning a window unit. Meanwhile, window air units cost less, are much smaller, and usually only require self-installation, which is obviously free.

So What’s Cheaper: Central Air or a Window/Wall Unit?

The general verdict is that a wall/window air conditioner is cheaper. However, this is only true if you are cooling a very small area such as one or two rooms. Otherwise, a window/wall unit will not properly cool your home, and you'll be left without comfortable cooling.

It's the idea of diminishing returns: For more than 3 rooms, central air is the least expensive overall as well as the most energy-efficient option.



It can be hard to determine the right cooling choice for your home on your own. Count on the experts at The Cooling Company to help you figure out what cooling system is right for the size of your home, your budget, and your energy efficiency considerations. .

You can compare the cost of operating your old system with the cost of a new one side-by-side. This is incredibly helpful when you need to research your options. 

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Topics:Air Conditioning ServiceEnergy Efficiency

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