Picture it: you’re driving home from work. It’s a hot, humid day in the midst of yet another heat wave. You tune on the radio to listen to the local meteorologist’s update: it’s official – the day’s temperatures just beat yet another record high for your area.
As you wipe the sweat off your brow and reach to your center console to take another long glug of your luke-warm water, an overwhelming sense of dread washes over you. If it’s this hot in my air conditioned car, what’s it going to be like walking into my un-air conditioned home?
If you’re like the many others caught in this similar scenario as record high temperatures soar across the globe, perhaps it’s time to think about investing in central air conditioning. We know what you’re thinking – another expense in this economy? But bear with us – central a/c could just be this summer’s hottest investment – and not only from a financial standpoint. The health and wellness benefits could be enough to justify a small up-front cost of an installation.
If you think that sounds cool, keep reading.
What is Central Air?
We’ve all been there – balancing our air conditioning window units over one shoulder (gosh, they are heavy!), while simultaneously trying to keep the window ajar just enough so the unit can slide in. No matter how much time we spend trying to line up the edge of the unit with our window seams, a small draft of warm air just always seems to slip through the cracks.
Ah, well, that’s life right? Well, without central air conditioning, it is!
Central air is a simplified way of saying “whole-home air conditioning system.” It works to replace warm air with cool air that’s been passed over cold coils, and then pushed into your home through vents. Unlike window or stand-alone air conditioning units, central air conditioning works to regulate a room’s temperature, and can be set to cool to a certain temperature throughout the day, or switched on or off through a set schedule.
All of this advancement in cooling technology means no more waiting in anticipation for a window unit to chill a room after a long day at work – now that’s cool!
Is an Icy Home Worth the Initial Investment?
One of the biggest pros of a fan or window unit air conditioner is that the two are relatively low-cost and easy to install on your own. Because central air needs to be installed by a professional, it can be a bit of a project, and a small investment.
As of 2021, the average central air installation cost homeowners $3,000 – $5,500, including labor and material. But that cost pays off. The most efficient air conditioners use 30% – 50% less energy to produce the same cooling effect of an a/c window unit. This means that, even if your window or standalone air conditioner is fairly new, replacing it with energy-efficient central air can save you 20% – 40% in energy costs.
A lower electricity bill is just one of the benefits associated with an in-home cooling system. When comparing reaction time and cognitive function of a group of people placed in a hot room vs. others placed in an air-contioned room, Harvard researchers found that those lacking A/C had significantly lower cognitive scores, along with increased reaction times compared to those in the cooled room. Along with higher cognitive function and faster reaction times, air-conditioned homeowners can expect lower stress levels and blood pressure compared to those without air conditioning in the home.
If you aren’t ready to shell out a few grand, running one or two window units in your home to cool down a room at a time can do the trick. Just be sure to only run them when you’re home to avoid an excessively high electricity bill. That would be very un-cool.