Achieving Comfort With Central Air Conditioning

Blame it on global warming or overpopulation, but the increasingly hotter temperatures leave much to be desired for many people. As a result, we seek out cooler areas for a respite from the sun and heat. Generally the oasis is an air conditioned building.

However, those who have wrestled with a cumbersome, heavy and leaky window air conditioning unit know how inconvenient window units can be. Perhaps you've considered installing central air conditioning in your home, but think it might prove too difficult and costly? Think again.

Homeowners with a forced-air heating system already in place have the majority of the framework done for an air conditioning addition. Typically, the system can be added by two technicians in a mere two or three days. For a 2,000 square-foot home, the average cost may be between $3,000 and $4,000.

If there is no ductwork in place, the cost will increase and it'll likely take twice as long for the job to be completed. But don't worry about your home being destroyed. A competent contractor experienced in doing this sort of retrofitting can hide ductwork in closets, attics and behind walls without having to tear up the home.

Once you've decided on adding a unit, there will be certain procedures to follow.

1. The contractor will have to do calculations for the anticipated load on the system based on how much heat gain your home receives. This will help determine the size of the unit needed to cool the home efficiently. A unit that is too small may have to work harder and never completely cool the home. A unit that is too large may cool the rooms too quickly and not be able to properly assess humidity levels -- shutting off before humidity is reduced.

2. Next you'll decide on a unit. There are package units that pair all the equipment into one piece that attaches to ductwork. Then there are split systems that have the condenser outdoors and the fan and coils inside.

3. Placement of the unit will be your final consideration. You don't want to place a unit next to a window or doors if you are bothered by noise. Even quiet units will make noise. Also, you don't want to restrict air flow around the condenser. It needs to exhaust warm air. You can, however, camouflage the unit with landscaping; just don't cover it up.

4. You may need to have your ductwork inspected to ensure it can meet the capacity of the cooler forced air for efficiency.

5. As you would with heat, a programmable thermostat ensures you cool the house when needed and don't waste energy.

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