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A window air conditioning unit can be a viable option for homeowners who do not want to invest in a central AC system. After all, window units typically cost just a fraction of a central system with the average expenses being around $550 and $3,000, respectively. Window AC units come in a variety of sizes and styles to suit different window types. Because of this, there are some important measurements homeowners must take prior to shopping for a unit, so they can ensure they end up with one that is best suited for their homes.
Advantages and Disadvantages
One of the main advantage in choosing a window AC unit over other types is the fact that these units can be temporary or permanent, depending on one's needs. Therefore, renters can purchase and install their own unit that can be taken with them when they move to a new place. Furthermore, the cost of window units is much lower than the cost of a brand new central air unit.
On the other hand, window AC units only cool down a small space in the home as opposed to the entire home itself. Therefore, it may be necessary to purchase several of them at once, which not only adds up in terms of cost but in terms of energy use as well.
Considerations when Choosing a Window Unit
The most important aspect of shopping for a window AC unit is to make sure that the correct size is purchased. Careful measurements of the window where the unit will be placed must be taken before any purchase. Homeowners should be careful to measure at least twice to ensure the correct figures are reported. Furthermore, it is also important to carefully consider which window in the home will be the best place for the installation of the unit.
Since window AC units typically do not reach past the rooms in which they are installed, it is important to choose their locations wisely. Most homeowners opt to have a window AC unit installed in a high-traffic room of the home, such as a living or family room. However, for comfortable sleeping during the warmer months of the year, it may be a good idea to have one installed in the bedroom as well.
To prevent the possibility of the AC unit causing a power surge, homeowners should also check the load on the circuit plan that will be used when the AC unit is installed. Depending on the amount of energy the unit will need to operate, it may even be necessary for homeowners to have a dedicated circuit installed to prevent fuses from blowing or the circuit board from tripping.
Finally, those looking to save on energy costs should look into the energy efficiency of the unit itself. Most major appliances these days--window AC units included--have energy ratings. Some appliance stores will even post an estimated "annual operating cost" for the unit, so that homeowners can get a better idea of what to expect.
Why Hire a Professional?
When buying a window air conditioning unit, it is always best to leave the installation work up to a trained and experienced professional. There are many reasons as to why this is the case. Hiring a professional saves homeowners the hassle and physical labor of lifting and installing the unit. It helps to avoid possible injuries that could be caused by homeowners attempting installation themselves. It also gives homeowners the peace of mind in knowing the unit is installed correctly and in a manner that is energy efficient.
Some homeowners make the mistake of trying to install a window unit on their own, thinking that it will save them money. However, what they often do not realize is that they have installed the AC unit's side curtains or other insulating material incorrectly, which can result in significantly lower energy efficiency and ultimately, increased operating costs. These additional costs can easily offset the price that it would have cost to simply hire a professional to install the unit in the first place.
When it comes to window AC unit installation costs, many homeowners are actually pleasantly surprised to find that they are quite reasonable. At most, homeowners can expect to spend around $215 in labor costs, with a minimum reported cost of around $150. Fortunately, by shopping around with various contractors and HVAC companies in one's area, it is often possible to find some great deals on window AC unit installation. For areas of the country that see all four seasons, for example, having an AC window unit installed at a non-peak time of year, such as fall or very late winter, can help to save a significant amount of money as well. Repair costs are even more reasonable, costing around $200 on average.
Permanent or Temporary Installation?
One last consideration to keep in mind for homeowners considering a window air conditioning unit is whether they will want a permanent unit installed or one that can be removed during the off-seasons of the year. Those considering a temporary installation will most likely want to go with a window/wall mounted unit. This is a great option for those who are perhaps renting an apartment but would like to later take the unit with them to a home. This also allows for the unit to be removed during the winter, so that there is no damage to the part of the unit that is exposed to the elements.
Many window/wall mounted units can also be installed permanently, but will require more protection on the exterior parts that are exposed to snow, rain and cold temperatures throughout the year. There may also be additional mounting devices that need to be purchased and installed for a permanent window unit.
Window air conditioner units can be a great alternative to more expensive central AC units, whether it be in a home, condo or apartment. Homeowners should just be careful to know the measurements of the window where the unit will be installed while also knowing what type of unit they desire. From there, shopping around and hiring installers during off-peak times of the year can help to save them a great deal of money on their new AC unit installation in the long run.