Three options for home cooling


Summer is on the way, and if you are in the market for air conditioning, here are three common options you might consider. We’ve included approximate cost estimates for each. But please be aware that costs are highly variable.

Window units/portable cooling

Window A/C units or portable A/C units are the least expensive. Portable units can be moved from room to

A window A/C can be an effective way to cool a single room.

room and come equipped with a length of duct to exhaust hot air out a nearby window. Window units are mounted in a window opening and cool one room. The efficiency of portable and window units has

improved over the years, but none of them are as efficient as most central A/C units or a mini-split heat pump.

For those who live in a hot, dry climate, an evaporative cooler (sometimes referred to as a “swamp” cooler) can be an option. Window units have been around for a while, but now there are portable options available. Evaporative

An evaporative cooler, or “swamp” cooler, is often mounted on the roof.

cooling units can be less expensive than traditional A/C, but don’t buy one until you do the research to determine how well evaporative cooling works in your area. Whatever you choose, make sure it is rated for the size of the space you are cooling.

Cost: $150 to $1,000 per new unit (depending on the climate and how many square feet you’re trying to cool).

Ductless mini-split heat pumps

A ductless mini-split heat pump has a compressor outside the home that’s connected to air handler units in as many as four rooms. Each room’s temperature can be controlled separately. Ductless mini-splits are an especially good choice for homes without forced air ducting systems or with leaky or undersized ductwork. Heat pumps can also be a

The condenser unit for a mini-split heat pump system is usually mounted on an exterior wall.

supplemental source of heat in the winter.

Cost: $3,000 to $10,000 (including installation).

Central cooling

If your home has forced air heating ductwork, it can be used for an A/C or heat pump unit. This is a good option if the ductwork is sized properly and doesn’t leak, and if ducts are in unheated attics or crawlspaces that are insulated. In some locations in the United States, contractors can install evaporative cooling as a whole house system.

Cost: $3,000 to $7,000 (not including repairs to ductwork).

Central A/C systems typically have a compressor unit located outside the home.

As always, you can save energy and money by purchasing ENERGY STAR®- rated appliances and collecting a few quotes from licensed contractors.

We hope this information on home cooling options will start you on the path to a more comfortable home this summer.

Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen of Collaborative Efficiency write on energy efficiency topics for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives.

From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56% of the nation’s landscape. For additional energy tips and information on Collaborative Efficiency visit: