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Which Home Cooling System is Best – Learn How to Beat the Heat!

No one likes to feel like a prisoner in their own home, and that’s what a home without cooling feels like in the summer. If you’re moving, building a house, or a new homeowner with no fixed cooling in your house, it might be hard to know what type of cooling to go for, or what’s even on the market!

In this blog, we’ll cover the most common types of home cooling out there and go over the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision for your home!

Central Air

central air home cutaway viewCentral air systems are two-part or split systems with both an interior and exterior component. Air is pulled into the exterior component, through refrigeration lines and the indoor unit, and is distributed through the house through a series of ducts. It’s one of the most common forms of whole house cooling.

Pros

  • Provides a consistent flow of air with little temperature deviation.
  • Utilizes air filtration systems to remove allergens and particulates that might otherwise adversely affect those within the home.
  • Works easily with smart and programmable thermostats, leading to less wasted energy.
  • Exterior units require very little maintenance.

Cons

  • Expensive to install.
  • Higher energy bills, despite working with smart energy products.
  • Interior ducts require maintenance and cleaning to prevent bacteria and mold build-up.

Ductless AC Systems

ductless air conditioning system home cutawayDuctless systems work similar to their central air counterparts, in that they have both an indoor and an outdoor unit. A mini-split unit includes a single indoor fan, and a multi-split uses that same exterior condensing unit to power multiple indoor units. The interior units are installed in each room you want cooled, and works just like a window-mounted unit.

Pros

  • Little to no air loss as is present in a typical forced-air system.
  • Very flexible to install; can be wall, ceiling, or floor mounted.
  • Requires no venting.
  • Individual climate zones can be changed independently.
  • Often comes with a wireless remote for convenient use.

Cons

  • On average 30% more expensive than a similar central air system.
  • Incorrectly or oversized air handlers frequently result in “short cycling”, wasting money and energy.
  • Short-cycling can lead to issues maintaining temperature or humidity in a room.

Whole House Fans

whole house fan cutawayWhole house fans hide up in your attic to blow air directly out of the house. They work by pulling air in the house up through a system of louvers into the attic via an exhaust fan and pushing the air outside. The fans can either be mounted with the louver, or installed in the roof or exterior wall of your attic. As air is forced out of the house, new air comes flowing into the house creating a cooling breeze everywhere.

Pros

  • Creates a nice cooling breeze throughout the house.
  • More energy efficient than most other options.
  • Will work on all but the hottest days, saving you money even if you have AC.
  • By venting the air regularly you can remove dust, particulates, and that “stale” air smell.
  • If you live in a low-allergen area, you can vent out more allergens than you take in.

Cons

  • It’s a big loud fan – you’re going to hear it.
  • Doesn’t work too well in certain climates and you’ll typically want the exterior night temperature to be 5 degrees below the desired interior temperature, but 10 or more is better.
  • Doesn’t work too well in very humid environments, as it draws in air from the outside.
  • If you live in a high-allergen area, you might wind up bringing more allergens in than you get rid of which is bad news for people who suffer from allergies.
  • Ceiling louvers don’t look that great.

Window Units

windowed air conditioning unitMost of us are familiar with the portable window units that can be installed and removed during the hottest months of the year. They can be installed in any window that is able to open and support it (which is most windows) and require no special installation tools or techniques.

Pros

  • Very easy to use.
  • Much cheaper than whole house systems.
  • Water drains to the exterior and doesn’t need to be emptied.
  • Most people will have no difficulty installing and using a standard home unit.
  • Works very well in a small area, with larger units cooling spaces up to 650 sq. ft. with proper positioning.

Cons

  • Can pose a security risk, especially on ground level windows.
  • You need an electrical outlet within range of the window you plan on installing the unit in.
  • Water drain is hard to direct, and there are no real options besides placing it somewhere you don’t mind it dripping.
  • Let’s face it, they’re kind of ugly. They might not be the worst looking thing ever but they certainly never look good.
  • They can fall out of the window, damaging both the unit and the outlet they’re plugged into.
  • The window they’re installed in can’t be used for anything other than being “the AC window”.

Extra Tip to Beat the Heat – Attic Insulation!

Installing insulation in your attic can help you beat the heat in the summer by preventing warm air from the attic from re-entering the house.

There are 2 main types of insulation you can use: loose fill or batts. There is a debate as to which one works better, but ultimately it comes down to how well the insulation is installed.

Loose fill insulation blowingLoose Fill: As the name implies, loose fill is made from little pieces of cellulose or fiberglass. It is usually installed using a blower to spread it evenly across the surface of your attic. Cellulose, a recycled paper material that is treated with both a flame and rodent retardant, is the most common type of self-installed insulation. Fiberglass generally requires hiring a professional to fill with. To install cellulose, simply spray it with a blower across your attic, covering it evenly until you reach the manufacturer recommended density.

Batts: Fiberglass batts are a simple install. They come in rolls of various lengths and are faced or unfaced.

  • Faced rolls are used when installing new insulation. Make sure they are the proper width and height to fit in between the joists and cut down to length by simply compressing and then cutting with a hand blade. Install them by hand for the length of the joist. Make SURE that the faced (paper) side of the insulation is facing towards the living space (down).
  • Unfaced rolls are used when placing new fiberglass rolls over an existing loose fill insulation. Using faced insulation would cause moisture build up here, which would be very bad for the joists. Spread these batts out perpendicular to the joists underneath being careful not to compress the existing insulation.

Read more in our blog – Insulating Your Attic!

Wrap up

Hopefully this gives you some good insight into what to look for in a new home or apartment, or a new cooling system for your existing place. If you have any questions then feel free to drop a comment below. Thanks for reading!