The Livin' Is Easy


Central air is easier to install than you might think. Is the time right for your house?

By FamilyTime

 

Most Americans have air conditioning, and those who don’t wish they did on certain hot and hazy summer days. If you’re considering installing central air, it might be time to stop thinking and get busy.

As the population moves to warm climates, builds larger houses, and figures how to make them more energy efficient, the presence of central air conditioning units has increased. Now could be a good time to install one, if you have not already done so.

The Cost

While expensive, central air conditioning units are not prohibitive. If your house is heated with forced air that travels through ducts, the installation of the a/c will be about half of what it costs if your house is heated in another way.

Yet, even without ducts, a good installer can outfit a house with central air without too much disruption or outrageous charges.

The cost will also be determined by the square footage of your house, how well insulated it is, how it is situated in relation to the sun in the summer, and how shaded it is. These and other factors determine the type and size of the unit.

If you are replacing an older a/c unit with a new, more efficient system, expect to save about 30 percent in energy costs. Of course, there are many factors that will determine those savings.

Overall, the central air conditioning unit should run in the thousands of dollars. Unless your house is very large and installation very complicated, it probably won’t run into the tens of thousands.

Make the Best Choices 

When you decide to install central air, hire the right person. The technician must know what he is doing to guarantee that you get what you pay for.

Talk to neighbors and friends who have had work done. If you trust your plumber, ask him. He might be able to install the unit, or might know whom to call. If you have worked with a contractor you like, ask him for referrals, too.

A competent technician will know how to measure your house, take environmental and other existing factors into consideration (shade trees, thickness of the walls, height of ceilings, and amount of insulation), and install the right unit.

He also knows where to install the condenser outside the house. Even a “quiet” condenser makes noise and so should not be placed near a bedroom or study.

Check with the town’s Chamber of Commerce and look at consumer web sites to make sure the outfit you want to hire is on the up and up.

Get the Right Size

One reason it’s so important to hire the right installer is because it is crucial to calculate the right size unit for your house.

If the system is too large, it will push cool air into the room too rapidly and fail to eliminate the humidity before it cycles down. If it’s too small, it won’t be able to cool the rooms in your house. Either way, you will be uncomfortable on the hottest days.

Value Added

The EPA estimates that more than 80 percent of American households are air conditioned. For obvious reasons, central air is most common in the South, Midwest and Southwest.

Along the cool, dry sections of the West Coast, many houses don’t need it. In the Northeast, window and wall units are more common, but this is changing.

Outfitting your house with central air is good for resale value. It makes the home more desirable — whether the air is turned on daily or only a dozen times during the hottest months. Without question, the more efficient the unit, the better for you and the next owner.

So, sit back and let the cool, dry air make the livin' easy during the hottest months of the year!