When hot summer days roll in, there are numerous options for keeping your living space cool. Three popular choices include window air conditioning units, central air systems, and ductless (or mini-split) systems.
Which one is best for your needs? Consider the following pros and cons:
Windows units, which sit securely in your windows, really shine when it comes to upfront costs and simplicity. You can purchase a small one for about $100 to $200 and place it in your window by yourself with little hassle. Note that more powerful models can cost up to about $900.
This convenient cooling solution has several immediate drawbacks. These require window space, so expect the unit to impede your view of the outside world. This is often a small price to pay for a cooler room. You and your guests will also have to deal with the noise the window unit produces, which can be an annoyance if it sits near a TV or speakers.
Measure your window before buying one of these units; otherwise, you risk ending up with a unit that is either too big or too small for your window. You should also consider how big the room is beforehand. A small window unit won’t be able to cool a large room (or several rooms) efficiently. No one wants to spend time relocating a window unit several times a day, so placement is key here. Assuming you choose the right size for the right room, the unit should be very energy efficient.
Deciding on central air conditioning is a major step up from using a window unit. Most homeowners end up spending $4,000 to $5,000, and, unlike basic window units, the installation process will require a qualified professional.
Of course, you will be greatly rewarded for the inconvenience and cost of installation. Multiple rooms of your house will simultaneously benefit from cool air, and you won’t have to sacrifice window space. In addition, a central air system can be so quiet that you forget it’s even running. While this might initially seem like a benefit, accidental overuse can increase your energy bills.
While often less of an eyesore than AC window units, the ducts in a central air system bring their share of problems. For example, improper installation or simple wear and tear could lead to leaky ducts, reducing the overall efficiency of the system. Loose items could also end up in the ducts, causing further complications.
Think of ductless air conditioner and heating units as a combination of a window unit and central air system; they can bring together many of the features of the aforementioned types.
The average cost of ductless system installation in a 2,000-square-foot home is roughly $2,500, so the upfront costs tend to be less than installing central air but more than simple window units.
Ductless heating and air models are compact enough to fit in any room without becoming visual distraction. They also run very quietly as the condenser sits outside, connecting to the indoor evaporator via a small tube in the wall.
Unlike central air systems, ductless Mitsubishi air conditioners don’t require professional maintenance. You just need to remove and clean the filtration screens regularly.
You can set Mitsubishi ductless systems to automatically increase or reduce cool air output based on the room’s occupants. You can also connect your system to a smartphone or other mobile device and control your home’s temperature when you’re away from home. These features result in higher energy efficiency than other cooling options.