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Cooling Systems (air conditioning)
Two types of units cool an entire house: a central air conditioner or a heat pump. If you only need to cool a specific area, a window air conditioning unit could be your most energy-conserving choice. Regardless of what type you are considering, remember that models will vary in efficiency ratings and efficiency has a direct impact on operating costs, so optimizing efficiency should be a priority. Consider buying an ENERGY STAR®-qualified model.
If you decide you want to cool your entire house, you should consider which system to install – central air conditioning or a heat pump – when reviewing your home’s heating needs. An air conditioner is actually a heat pump that can only cool. *Remember: your heating decisions can affect your cooling options.
Duct work for central air
Duct work is generally needed to carry cool air throughout the house in a central air conditioning system. If you have a forced air heating system you can usually use the same ducts for cooling. If you do not have duct work, you can look into installing it or consider air conditioning technologies that have been developed for homes without ducts. These alternatives are more costly, so if you are considering them, investigate your options with your heating/cooling contractor.
Mini splits are systems suited to homes without a central air-distribution system. No duct work is required. The system consists of two components: an outdoor condensing unit, and an indoor evaporator and fan. The indoor section can frequently be mounted on any interior or exterior wall, and is much quieter than a window unit.
Window air conditioners are effective if you only need to cool a specific area of your home. They will cost less to install than a central air conditioning system. If you don’t have duct work, they might be your most practical choice. It is important to match the capacity of the window air conditioner with the size of the area to be cooled. Window units should either be covered in winter or, better still, removed to minimize heat loss.
Other Ways to Cool Your House
The following measures will help keep your home more comfortable:
- Install ceiling fans to circulate air.
- If you’re planning for the long term, plant trees that lose their leaves in the fall on the east, south and west side of your house.
- Close the drapes or blinds on south and west-facing windows during sunny summer days to reduce heat gains.
- Turn off lights and appliances when they are not in use.
- Install awnings for patio doors and windows that face the sun.
- Open windows in the evening and at night during the summer months.