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using a fan to keep cool
using a fan to keep cool

Beating the Heat: Window AC vs. Central Air

As the warm weather approaches, you may be wondering about the most sensible choices for keeping your home cool. There are many pros and cons to weigh when considering the value of a window unit vs. central air.

Among the many considerations, you want to think about the cost-benefit analysis based on your personal lifestyle, your family’s preferences, as well as your financial situation. At the end of the day, you should value being comfortable in your home.

How to Choose Between Window and Central Air Conditioning

The choice between  Window Air Conditioning, or several window A/C units, and Central Air depends on a range of factors from the size of the space you want to cool, concerns about energy efficiency, and, of course, cost.

Window A/C units are typically less expensive upfront and the installation is generally straightforward and can be done on your own. This is part of the reason why Window A/C units have remained a popular choice for those who live in smaller spaces or only want to keep one or two rooms especially cool.

Depending on the setup, proper insulation, and quality of the Window A/C unit, these have the potential to be more energy-efficient than central air conditioning systems. Why? Because Window A/C units cool an intended space as opposed to an entire house. To be clear, if the intent is to cool a large space using a Window A/C unit this will likely be very energy and cost inefficient.

Central Air Conditioning systems generally require more upfront costs than purchasing Window A/C units. A central air conditioning system provides much more controlled and consistent cooling, which is preferred by many and some argue is healthier for your body. Walking in and out of an icy chamber created by a Window A/C is not always a pleasant experience and can be physically jarring.

What do The Professionals Recommend?

As in most cases, the professionals are still going to defer to your personal circumstances and preferences. Bearing this in mind, licensed HVAC professionals can access your house and inform you about the pros and cons of having a window unit vs. central air.

Factors a homeowner needs to consider include:

  • The size of your spaces
  • Energy efficiency goals
  • Your personal budget

Both Window A/C units and Central A/C require annual maintenance to ensure safety, reliability, air quality, and efficiency. If you have Central Air Conditioning, you should have a licensed HVAC professional service your air conditioning system on an annual basis.

Wondering what are the best Central A/C systems? Look no further!

The Pros and Cons of Central Air Conditioning

One of the more obvious benefits of central air is the consistency in temperature. When Central A/C systems are working properly, a Central A/C system that is equipped with smart home sensors should be able to make adjustments to temperatures based on your preferences.


You may want to set a timer to lower the temperature in your bedroom so it is closer to optimum sleeping temperature. You may also want to set a set to begin cooling your home while you are returning from work. Timed cooling allows you to save energy during times when you are not at home.

Additionally, many systems, such as Honeywell, have apps that allow you to change the temperature in your home remotely. This allows you to make adjustments in unexpected situations. This can be a terrific benefit if you are away for the weekend and want to return to a nice cool house.

The ability to remotely change the temperature settings in your home can save energy if you forget to change the thermostat before leaving your house for the day.

The many benefits of central air conditioning systems include but are not limited to:

  • Consistent Cooling
    • Window A/C units and portable air conditioning products blast air in a manner that is inconsistent.
  • Improved Air Quality
    • Central air conditioning systems have filters, which should be replaced annually,  that help to remove pollutants and allergens from the air, improving the overall air quality in your home.
  • Noise Reduction
    • Central Air Conditioning is typically far quieter when compared to a Window A/C unit.
  • Improved Energy Efficiency
    • Central A/C is usually more energy-efficient and can help reduce your overall energy bill.
  • Increased Home Value
    • Central air is a desirable feature in a house and will likely increase the value of your home. This makes Central Air Conditioning a worthwhile investment if you are considering selling your home down the road.


Potential disadvantages associated with Central Air Conditioning systems:

  • Cost
    • Installation of central air can be expensive, especially if your house does not already have the necessary ductwork.
    • Running the system can be expensive, especially if you live in a location with high electricity rates.
  • Maintenance
    • Central air conditioning systems require regular maintenance on an annual basis
    • Each year, Central A/C filters should be changed, the ductwork should be cleaned, and the unit itself should be serviced by a trained HVAC professional.
    • Avoiding or neglecting maintenance can result in reduced efficiency, higher electric bills, system malfunction, or even complete system failure.
  • Installation Time
    • Installing a central air conditioning system can take several days. This might be disruptive to your daily routine and may require you to temporarily relocate during the installation process.
  • Space Requirements
    • Central A/C systems require space for the air handler unit, which is usually located in the attic or basement. This can be a problem for homes with limited space and may require modifications to your home's existing infrastructure.

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The Pros and Cons of Window Air Conditioning units

Window A/C units have advantages and disadvantages much like alternatives. Window A/C units are desirable because of their easy installation, space-saving, and energy-efficiency. On the flipside, they have considerable limitations when it comes to cooling large spaces, they are often noisy, many consider them rather unsightly, they block the view from windows, and can be a security concern. 


Reasons to consider Window Air Conditioning units include:

  • Window A/C units are highly effective for cooling small spaces, such as a single room.
  • They are easy to find and affordable compared to other A/C options.
  • Window units do not require water drainage maintenance.
    • When you set them up, you want to make sure the unit is properly tilted so that water drips from the outside of the units onto the ground and does not damage the home’s interior.
  • Energy-efficient models can reduce your household’s energy consumption and save you money on your overall electricity bill. This is especially true if you are only interested in cooling a few rooms.
  • They have low maintenance requirements.
    • At least once a year, you want to clean the filter and the coils to ensure safety, efficiency, and air quality and to reduce the likelihood of malfunction.

It should be noted that Window Air Conditioning units can be used in conjunction with Central A/C systems. Reasons you may want to consider a combination of both include extra cooling of certain rooms and reducing the overall burden on your central air conditioning system.

Disadvantages associated with Window A/C units include:

  • They cannot cool your entire house.
  • They are not optimized to cool rooms in a controlled manner.
  • Multiple units are required to cool multiple rooms.
  • They can be noisy, especially if they are older models or do not properly fit in the window. Proper insulation is essential for effectiveness as well as efficiency.
  • They block the view from the window.
  • They block natural light coming in through the window.
  • They may be prohibited by some landlords, homeowners associations (HOAs), or local ordinances.
  • They have to be removed and stored during colder seasons as they can be damaged by the elements and leaving them in the window may cause heating inefficiency.
  • An often overlooked concern about Window Air Conditioning  units relates to security. Especially in situations where a Window A/C unit is placed in a first-floor window, they could give intruders easy access to your residence.

Potential Reasons to consider a Ductless Air Conditioner

A ductless air conditioner can improve airflow and comfort in areas where other options, such as window units, are not feasible options.

Ductless air conditioners can save energy and money by cooling areas on an as-needed basis. A ductless air conditioner can both heat and cool your home with a single system that has a switch for reversing refrigerant flow.Ductless air conditioners can be easily and quickly installed without requiring extensive labor or major construction such as adding central air to your house.

Ductless air conditioners have the ability to be controlled on an individual basis meaning each separate unit can have customized temperature preferences.

Consider learning more about if ductless air conditioning units are a good choice for you and your family.

Know Your Central A/C System Is Covered for Peace of Mind

American Home Shield® offers coverage for parts of up to 23 home systems and appliances, including Central A/C which many of us use on a daily basis. Take the stress out of your summer and rest easy knowing you are protected with an AHS home warranty plan®.

See the plan contractfor coverage details, including service fees, limitations, and exclusions. Charges for non-covered items may apply.

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