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Should you upgrade to central air conditioning?

Ginger Dean

August 25, 2015

By: Ginger Dean, Home Finance Specialist

In: Interior Home ImprovementHeating and Cooling

If you're sweating it out in your home during the hot summer months, you may want to consider installing central air conditioning. Just like any upgrade to your home there are both initial as well as ongoing costs to keeping cool. However, to some people those costs are worth it to avoid the uncomfortable summer heat.

If you're thinking about installing central air conditioning consider it like any other major purchase or expense. Think about the costs involved, weigh the benefits versus the cons, and then ask yourself, "Do I really need it?" Here are a few tips to help you out in the ongoing AC debate.

How much does central air conditioning cost?

If you're currently without air conditioning or if you have an individual window unit, then adding central air conditioning can be a major upgrade to your home. According to This Old House, the average cost of installing central air is several thousand dollars and the job can be done in about three days.

Some may say that is a small price to pay in exchange for being comfortable in your own home all summer. But then there's the added costs that come with maintaining a central AC unit - not to mention the extra charges that come with running it all summer.

What's the downside to upgrading to central air conditioning?

If you're looking to make a case against installing central AC, there are the obvious upfront and ongoing maintenance costs that come with most household appliances and electronics. According to Home Depot, "Regular maintenance of your (air conditioning) system improves system performance, reduces utility bills, and prolongs system life." And repairs still happen, even with the most well-maintained system.

Of course there are cheaper alternatives to central AC, such as fans and window air conditioning units, but are they really substitutes? Some say once you switch to central AC you'll never go back, but that's only if you can afford the monthly electric bill.

The case for installing central air conditioning

I am sure most Americans can talk about the benefits of having central air conditioning all day long, especially if you've lived both with it and without it. It makes the hot summer months much more bearable.

Air conditioning costs are far cheaper than heating costs, so one could argue that installing central AC is absolutely worth it. However one could also say that heat is a necessity to live and air conditioning is merely a luxury.

One more thing to keep in mind - centralized air conditioning can also add value to your home if you ever plan on putting it on the market for resale.

So which side are you on?

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