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Air Conditioning

There are two approaches to air conditioning your home. Below are some hints to help you choose the right one for you. In northern climates, use of fans can be a third, more economical alternative.

Central Air

These systems work in conjunction with your furnace to pump cold air through the heating ducts of your house. The most common style air conditioning in a new house, central air is much more difficult to add (because of the need to run vents throughout the house) to an old house unless you already have forced air heating. Recognizing that different parts of a house have different cooling requirements, many central air systems provide for individual "cooling zones" -- a highly recommended feature for saving money on energy costs.

Window / Wall Units

The most popular method to add or supplement existing air conditioning is by using a wall or window unit. As the names imply, a window unit will fit into a window (single or double hung) while a wall unit fits in a whole in the wall. These units are the ultimate in zone control units because they are designed to cool only the room they are placed in -- not the whole house. When installing one, be sure that they are securely fastened so that they do not fall out (either into the room or outside). Look for a unit with an easily cleaned filter -- a clean filter is important to efficient operation. Also, compare noise levels, fan options, and thermostat controls (can you set a temperature by degrees or just "cold/colder?").

Right Size

No matter what type of air conditioner you buy, picking the right size is very important. A unit that is too small will never fully cool. A unit that is too large will be less efficient, will switch on and off more often, use more electricity, and dehumidify less. Calculating the right size involves considering the amount of insulation, exposure to sun, number of typical room occupants (because

people give off heat), how frequently doors are opened, and the uses of the room (a kitchen takes more cooling, for example, because of the stove and refrigerator). You are best to talk to a professional about the proper sizing of your unit.
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