Are you dreading using window air conditioners in your New Jersey home for another summer? Warm weather means it’s time to lug those old, clunky units out of storage. You need to wipe them off and clean them out. Then it’s a matter of wrestling with them to make sure they’re in the window properly.
Once they’re in, the units take up valuable window space all season long. You can’t even leave that window open on cooler days to get a breeze. And, if you leave the units in all year, you never get sunlight from that window.
They’re also loud. Maybe that constant hum is relaxing in your bedroom when you’re trying to sleep. But, trying to talk or watch TV is different. Older window A/C’s especially can drown out other sounds.
Finally, they’re inefficient. Window air conditioners use a lot of energy to cool a small space. That’s what makes your energy bills skyrocket during the months you use them.
Fortunately, there are many products out today that can do a better job. While some may have higher upfront costs, they all use less energy. That keeps your monthly bills lower in the summer. And, they also work better and quieter than window units.
Here’s a quick look at some of the latest options for replacing your window air conditioners.
Portable Air Conditioners
Portable air conditioners are very similar to window units. In some ways, they’re the newer version of those older models. But, they’re an easier to install and take up much less window space.
Think of portable air conditioners as self-contained central air units. Each one comes with a unit that’s usually a few feet tall. It sits inside your home near a window.
This is the part that actually cools the air. It does so by pushing cool air into the room. At the same time, it draws warm air and moisture from the room. The warm air then travels through a hose and out a window through a small vent.
The vent is placed in the window much like an old air conditioner. But, it’s much smaller. This way, you still get a lot of window space. And, it’s lightweight. You can easily place it there and remove it without any hassle.
In fact, that’s a big part of what makes it portable. While the indoor unit is pretty big, it’s light and easy to pick up. And, the hose and vent are easy to move around. As a result, you can move it easily from room to room if you want. Or, you can take it out of the window when you’re not using it.
However, these aren’t a cure-all. For starters, some of the models are noisy. Some may even be louder than a window air conditioner. They’re still pretty new and are improving. But, many of the models are still less efficient than older a/c’s.
Despite these drawbacks, portable air conditioners are becoming more popular. They’re used a lot in places where central air isn’t an option. They’re also useful where there’s not a lot of window space, to begin with. Finally, homeowners in areas that don’t get sweltering heat too often can use them to supplement fans without losing their windows for the season.
A big step up from portable air conditioners is a ductless panel system. These are permanent units that are just as efficient as central air, if not more so. But, you can put them in just one or two rooms if you want. This way you’re not paying to treat a whole house when you don’t want to.
Here’s how they work: outside the home is a heat pump or compressor that provides cool air. That air travels through small, flexible tubing. The tubes are just a few inches in diameter, so installers can snake them through walls just like electrical wires. There’s no need to install ducts or tear down walls.
From there, the cool air circulates into a room through a ductless panel. These are the parts of the system you see. They’re long panels that are usually mounted high on a wall. To connect them, installers drill a small hole behind the panel to connect the tubing. You won’t even see that hole. You’ll just see the panel itself.
Ductless panels are becoming more and more popular each year. There are a few reasons for this. As we mentioned, they’re very easy to install. And, they’re also whisper-quiet. Most times you won’t even notice they’re on.
Next, they’re Energy Star-certified and very energy-efficient. This means they use much less energy than other units to provide the same cooling effect. Less energy means lower utility bills each month.
Unlike a portable a/c, you can’t move a panel once it’s installed. However, you can control each one separately. This lets you cool different rooms at different temperatures. Or, if you can put them all on the same setting. Then, the panels in the rooms that cool off quicker will turn off before the others.
There aren’t any real drawbacks except perhaps the upfront price. Ductless panels are a bigger investment than portable air conditioners. And, you need to know exactly which rooms need them, because you can’t move them around.
However, they’re much more efficient than any portable units. And, you can use multiple units to heat or cool your entire home year round. Since each panel heats or cools one zone, you can set each temperature where you want it. This uses less energy than central air or heating.
As a result, the more you use ductless panels the more money you save month-to-month in the long run.
If you’re looking for some serious cooling, a high-velocity HVAC system is the way to go. Just about no other system will get the temperature where you want it as fast as this. However, it’s a big investment and isn’t very flexible.
But, there are many situations where high-velocity is the way to go. If your home can’t be retrofitted for central air, high-velocity is a great option. And, if the smaller units aren’t doing the job, or you’re just ready to really cool off, this may be the way to go.
Like a ductless system, the process for high-velocity HVAC begins with an outdoor heat pump or compressor. And again, the cool air travels through small, flexible tubing.
However, here’s where it works differently. That air goes through an air handler. This part pushes the air with much, much more pressure than window units, traditional HVAC ducts or even ductless panels.
That air then enters the room through very small vents. Most are less than five inches around. Since the system uses much higher pressure, it gets results much, much faster than other systems.
That efficiency is a big draw for high-velocity systems. Since these cool rooms quickly, they don’t run for as much time as other systems. That means lower energy bills each month. As a result, you’re paying less in bills for great climate control and extra comfort.
However, there are a few other factors to consider. That high-pressure air is uncomfortable for some people. Putting the vent in an out-of-the-way spot, however, usually takes care of that. And, while they don’t run all the time they aren’t as quiet as ductless panels when they are working.
Finally, there’s no portability. And, it’s usually installed through a whole home rather than just one or two rooms. For these reasons, it’s often more of an alternative to regular central air ductwork. But, if you’re ready for a whole-house upgrade, high-velocity is a strong contender.
Are you looking for the best way to keep your home cool in the summer without central air? Contact us at (856) 272-7000 and we’ll help you find the best, most efficient system for your home — and your wallet.