Comparing Central Air And Window Air Conditioning

13 January 2015
 Categories: , Articles


For most modern homes, central air conditioning and window air conditioning are the two primary home cooling options. While many homeowners feel central air is naturally the better option, the best choice for your home and your budget depends on a number of factors. Here is a comparison of window air conditioning and central air to help you make the best choice for your home.

Home Size and Layout

The size of your home is the most important thing you should consider when you are choosing between window air and central air. Even the largest window air conditioners are designed only to cool one or two rooms, and their ability to do so will vary depending on the layout of your home. The more your rooms are separated by long hallways and the more floors you have, the more window units you will have to buy to cool your entire home.

Because central air conditioners are connected to your ductwork, they can efficiently cool virtually any home layout. For homes with two stories, this makes central air the best choice by default. However, single story homes and smaller apartments may not need a full ductwork system to cool them. You will likely be satisfied using a window unit for these types of homes.

Energy Cost

Window units vary in wattage from 500 watts up to 1440 watts. Typical central air units use as much as 3500 watts per hour. This means that, depending on the size of window unit you are using, you may be able to use two or more window units for the same energy cost that it would take to use a central air unit. However, the question of energy cost is not as simple as comparing wattage.

Your usage habits can make as much difference in your energy costs as the wattage of the cooling solution that you choose. If you know that you spend most of your day in a single room, then you are more likely to benefit from a window unit. You may be wasting money by cooling your entire home with central air unless you are in several rooms throughout the day.

Noise Level

The noise that window air conditioners make is one of their key downsides for most people. Whether you are working from home with a window air conditioner in your office or trying to relax in front of the tv with your living room air conditioner running, you may find that the constant noise of a window air conditioner is irritating. If silence is important to you, a central air conditioner may be the better choice.

Coincidentally, the noise of a window air conditioner may indirectly help you with keeping your energy costs down. It is hard not to notice that your air conditioner is running, while the quiet operation of central air makes you more likely to forget that your AC is running when you go to bed at night. The noise of a window unit may help you to remember to turn it off more often, reducing your energy bill.


Because central air is a more complex system, there is a lot more that can go wrong. Generally speaking, window air conditioners are simple to maintain, while central air can sometimes require the assistance of an HVAC contractor to repair. While you can easily change out your furnace filter each month to keep your central air running efficiently, there is not much that most homeowners can do on their own if their ducts begin to leak or if the furnace blower motor breaks down.

When it comes to choosing between window air conditioners and central air, there is no single option that is best for everyone. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons of each option carefully before making your choice, and contact an HVAC professional if you are still unsure about the best cooling solution for your home. You can also check out sites like for more information.