Should I Install Window Units if I Also Have Central AC?

For many homeowners, the decision to have a central air-conditioner installed is based solely on the desire to get rid of their window units. Window air-conditioners not only block a view to the outside and restrict natural light, they usually only cool a single room at a time compared to the whole house like the central AC does. Regardless, we often still get the question on if you should still install window units if you have central AC…and the answer might surprise you.

Benefits of a Window Air-Conditioner

Window AC units do have their advantages in their own right. For one, most people already have them, so using them in conjunction with a central air-conditioner doesn’t involve an extra purchase. The advantages of a window unit (with or without a central AC) include:

  • Can be used in any room – more often than not a central air-conditioner will have more than enough capability to cool every room in the house. There are situations where a window AC is the desired cooling method. For example, if you renovate and add-on to your home the central AC may not have the capacity to cool the expanded square footage. A window unit is also great for cooling a finished garage, an attic, or other places where the central air cannot reach.
  • Can be used in emergency situations – with proper maintenance and care, your central AC should operate seamlessly more often than not. Of course issues with the compressor, condenser, blower motor, etc. can arise – especially in hot weather. If your central AC does go down, it’s nice to have the option of a window unit to fall back on.
  • Will take some strain off the central AC – it’s important to understand that a window unit or central air-conditioner isn’t necessarily an either-or situation. In fact, the two can be used at the same time in partnership. Utilizing a window AC can allow you to operate the central air-conditioner at a higher temperature and thus lessen the workload.
  • Window units create zoned cooling – one zoned central air-conditioners represent a huge source of energy loss. If you want a cooler temperature in your bedroom for better sleeping at night, you’re also making the other unoccupied areas of the house (living room, kitchen) cooler for basically no reason. Utilizing a window unit can allow you to meet a specific temperature in one room without compromising the comfort or energy loss in the rest of the house.

As you can see, using a window air-conditioner in conjunction with a central air-conditioner can be beneficial in a number of different situations. The window units are more affordable than ever and they can install in minutes making them a viable temporary or seasonal solution.


Any Downfalls of Running a Window Unit and Central Air-Conditioner Simultaneously?

Obviously the biggest drawback of having a central air-conditioner installed as well as a window unit would be an uptick of energy bills. Compared to each other, central AC units are definitely more efficient than a window unit. When used in conjunction, however, they can use less energy than either one alone. When you compare the lower wear and tear on the more expensive central air-conditioner, a lot of the cost advantages are almost hidden. Sure it can be annoying to have to ‘manually’ turn on a window unit and adjust your central AC thermostat, but with cost savings remember you’re actually getting paid to do so (in a roundabout way).


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