In your quest for home cooling tips, are you wondering about central air vs window units?
Or should you keep cooling your home through window air conditioning units.
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What about those new fangled mini split air conditioning units also called ductless air conditioning aka heat pumps for warming your home in the winter?
This post about home cooling tips, focusing on how a window ac unit versus central air stacks up, is perpetually popular, regardless of the time of year.
It explores the pros and cons of cooling your home with window air conditioning, ductless air conditioning system, and central air.
When window ac units may make sense
Window ac units are cheaper in the short run.
They make the most sense if you live in a small home or apartment.
Another air conditioning option–you can buy a portable air conditioner that you vent through a window.
It looks like a large dehumidifier with a long vented tube going to the window. In fact, many portable air conditioners have a built-in dehumidifier.
Pros of a portable or window ac unit
There are a number of pros to buying a portable or window air conditioner to cool your home.
The first pro is price.
You can easily buy a portable ac or window ac unit for just a couple hundred dollars.
Cheapest place to buy window ac units
Want to hear where we bought cheap window ac units?
Our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore location.
For just $25 each, we purchased two window air conditioners.
They’ve been running great for years now.
We use them in our bedrooms.
Easy air conditioning installation
The second pro is easy installation.
In other words you can install these yourself.
A window ac unit might be a bit heavier and clumsier to install, but you can definitely do it yourself.
The portable air conditioner is super easy to install DIY.
Even my college-aged daughter was able to install one in the house where she lived senior year.
A third–and bonus–pro to the portable air conditioner that looks like a dehumidifier?
You can move it from room to room.
So if you really want to save money, you can buy one unit per floor of your house and then just roll it from room to room during the summertime.
Cons of a portable or window ac unit
Perhaps the biggest “con” when it comes to window ac units is humidity.
That is, the window units don’t always do a good job of keeping the humidity out.
So, if you live in a humid location and are worried about cheap home cooling tips and dealing with humidity, here is your solution.
Where to buy ac window units
As I mentioned, we were able to get a deal on small ac window units at ReStore.
But maybe you don’t want to buy used.
So, where can you shop?
Here is a list of places, with links to those online options.
What is a mini split or ductless air conditioning?
One of the newest ways to keep your home cool without central air is with something called a mini split or a heat pump or a ductless air conditioning system.
You can read more here about how heat pumps work.
What is central air conditioning?
Central air conditioning is a way of cooling the home by using an existing home heating system made up of ducts.
You’ll probably know that your home could have central air if you have a forced air heating system.
Got vents in the ceilings, walls or floors or your home?
Then you likely have an existing duct system that can handle adding an air conditioning system to your HVAC. HVAC stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
According to experts there are three elements that really matter when it comes to air conditioning preferences:
- the climate where you live (hot and humid Houston versus dry Denver)
- how well-insulated your home is
- your personal preferences are
Issues with humidity
If you’re looking to cool your home and lower the humidity, I would recommend trying a dehumidifier.
We’ve lived in homes with un-air conditioned basements.
These were always damp basements.
However, once we got a dehumidifier going down there, the basement always stayed cool and dry.
You can try the same in your home, if you can’t afford to install central air.
However, if you are looking for cooling efficiency, central air is your best bet.
Because when it comes to central air vs window units and humidity, central air wins hands down.
Not only does a central air system cool your house.
But a good system is able to filter the air for allergens and pollutants, and it controls humidity, too.
Again, if you have a forced air heating system, getting a central air system installed should be a snap. Why not submit a Home Advisor request today?
State sales tax holidays, focused on energy-efficient improvements, are the perfect time to purchase new heating and cooling systems.
Why your central air system needs a filter
Speaking of filters, if you have a forced air heating or cooling system, you must change filters monthly.
I’ve found that when I change my filters every month, my central air system works more efficiently.
That means my house stays cooler in summer, and my electric bills don’t go sky high.
How do I manage to change the filters monthly without having to run to the store each time?
On a regular basis the company ships me home air filters I need for my specific HVAC system.
The filters cost the same as what I would pay at my local hardware or big box store.
But because they come to my front door, it saves me time.
Also, because I am changing those filters regularly, I am saving money, too.
One, I’m keeping my cooling bills as low as possible.
And two, by keeping a clean filter in my HVAC system at all times, I’m keeping the system clean and make it less likely it will break down.
The role insulation plays in cooling
Maybe humidity isn’t your problem. But insulation is.
And that can affect how well or poorly your central air can cool you home.
We’re also talking about well-insulated windows and, believe it or not, a well-insulated attic.
In the summer, temperatures in the attic often climb to more than 140 degrees.
Even when the first floor is comfortable, this constant flow of heat from the attic can bake your bedrooms upstairs.
Most people don’t think of insulation as a way to keep cool.
However, increasing levels in your attic can make a huge difference.
You can install insulation yourself by buying it at a store like Home Depot.
Or you can find a pro to add insulation.
Again, this is where a contractor-referral service like Home Advisor can help you out.
How to keep cool and save money
Now that you know the pros and cons of central air vs window units, here are additional tips on how you can stay cool and save money.
Not surprisingly the demand for electricity rises as the weather gets hot and air conditioners start humming.
There’s no reason your budget has to suffer just so you can be comfortable.
Here are my additional tips
Install a Programmable Thermostat
Installing a programmable thermostat is smart.
You can raise the setting to the highest comfortable temperature when you’re out of the house.
No reason to cool an empty house.
You can program your thermostat to kick in right before you get home from work.
Plus, you can save 3 to 5 percent on your air conditioning costs for each degree you raise the thermostat.
We installed a Nest thermostat last year; I love that I can set my home to “eco mode” from my phone.
A programmable thermostat is one of the best ways to keep cool and save money.
Speaking of Alexa, here is my blog post with five best Alexa hacks for the kitchen!
There are probably lots of doors throughout your house or apartment that you should keep closed on hot days.
I’m not just talking about your front door either.
You should close doors leading to uncooled and vacant parts of your home.
If you have central air conditioning, close off vents to unused rooms.
Use a Ceiling Fan
Using a ceiling fan can make a room feel cooler on your skin.
This is true, even if you have air conditioning.
Many of the rooms in our house have ceiling fans.
These can help people “feel” cooler without cranking the a/c.
Best of all ceiling fans don’t use a lot of energy.
Seal Holes and Cracks Around Doors and Windows
Eliminate air leaks around window air conditioners with foam insulation or weather-stripping.
You can do this sealing and weather stripping yourself on a weekend day.
Or you can hire a professional to do it for you.
Block Out the Sun
Close blinds, shades and draperies facing the sun.
This will keep out the sun’s heat.
This is an easy way to help fans and air conditioners cool more efficiently.
We always get blackout drapes to help keep the sun out.
I love the ones on Amazon with the grommets at the top!
Turn Off Power Sources
TVs, computers and other electronic devices draw power when they are in standby mode or turned off but still plugged in.
Plug electronics into power strips and turn off the power switch when the items are not in use.
Some of them give off residual heat that could raise the temperature of the room so turning them off is a good idea.
Invest in a Dehumidifer
As I mentioned earlier humidity levels affect your ability to feel cool.
You can reduce the humidity level in your home by investing in a dehumidifier.
Putting one in your basement, like we have done, can help cut down on musty smells as well.
Finally, if all else fails, it might be time to bring in an expert.
That’s what we did when had a home energy audit.
It let us know, in real time, how we could improve the energy efficiency of our home.
This article explains more about the benefits of a dehumidifier, especially in a basement.