Which Cooling System is Right for You?

Learn about the strengths and weaknesses of 5 types of cooling technology.

Which SystemFeeling hot and bothered? Whether you’ve never had a cooling solution at your property or you need to replace a tired old system, you can find relief from the heat with one of these 5 types of cooling technology. Here’s a brief overview of each along with pros and cons and tips for maximizing their efficiency and effectiveness.

Central Air Conditioning

Central air conditioning requires ducts and registers to circulate cool air through your home. The system itself could be a split system, where you have an evaporator inside and a condenser outside, or a packaged system, where all elements are together in one outdoor unit located on a flat roof or in the yard.

Pro: Provides even cooling throughout the home, provided the ducts and registers are properly configured.

Con: Can be expensive, especially if you don’t have existing ductwork.

Energy-Saving Tip: Check your ducts for leaks and gaps that can cause significant energy waste.

Room Air Conditioners

As the name suggests, room air conditioners are designed to cool one room at a time. You could get a window unit or a portable unit.

Pro: Very inexpensive.

Con: Can be inconvenient because window units block access to windows and portable units need to be connected to a drain or else have their condensation tanks emptied periodically.

Energy-Saving Tip: If you have a window unit, be sure that you seal all the cracks and gaps around it using rigid foam and tape. Otherwise you risk a 10 percent loss in energy efficiency.

Ductless Air Conditioners

Ductless air conditioners combine the best of room air conditioners and central air, delivering efficient cooling for specific rooms or zones without the need for ductwork. Up to 4 air registers can be connected to a single outdoor unit.

Pro: Eliminates energy loss associated with ductwork.

Con: Requires a hole to be cut into the wall to mount the indoor unit.

Energy-Saving Tip: Keep the outdoor unit clean to preserve the coils’ ability to cool efficiently.

Heat Pumps

Some heat pumps are reversible, meaning they can draw on the temperature differential between indoor air and outdoor air to produce heat in winter or cooling in summer.

Pro: High-efficiency heat pumps often do a better job dehumidifying than air conditioners, providing improved comfort at higher temperatures.

Con: Must be connected to ductwork which presents potential for energy loss.

Energy-Saving Tip: Change your air filter often to prevent buildup from decreasing efficiency.

Swamp Coolers

Swamp coolers actually work better than air conditioners in arid climates. They use evaporated water to cool hot, dry, outside air and create a more comfortable indoor environment.

Pro: Uses about 25 percent of the energy an air conditioner would.

Con: Requires more frequent maintenance.

Energy-Saving Tip: Always keep your swamp cooler’s water topped up so that you are getting the most evaporative action possible.