The charm of older houses is appealing to many homeowners and prospective home buyers, but when it comes to a home’s indoor climate control, it can sometimes feel like home comfort must be sacrificed for beauty and design. The good news is that you do not have to rely on several bulky and unsightly window AC units to keep your home cool in the summer. Read on for information on what installing a central air conditioning system in an older home may look like.

Options for Cooling an Older House

Using Window AC Units

Though relatively inexpensive (and often available secondhand), there are numerous cons of relying on window AC to keep an entire house cool. Window units are generally much less energy-efficient than a central HVAC system, so even though the cost to buy a unit up front may be minimal, you could be paying for it in energy bills as the seasons go by.

Apart from being inefficient, window AC units are bulky and loud. If interior design and the charm of a quiet old home was in your sights, you may have to leave those dreams behind for the summer months of buzzing window units. The last drawback of having window units is the need to manually install and uninstall them twice a year, and finding a place to store them.

Installing Central Air

Though certainly an initial investment up front, installing a new central HVAC system will be more energy-efficient, lower your energy bills, and even have the potential to increase the value of your home in the long run. Not to mention, you can enjoy peace and quiet in the summer months without having to shut off the AC.

There are two types of central AC systems you can choose from, each with varying costs, pros, and cons.

  • A split system is the most energy-efficient and customizable, with two separate cabinets for the condenser/compressor and the evaporator coil/air handler.
  • A packaged system is one unit placed outside (in most cases) that packages all parts in one cabinet; packaged systems tend to be less invasive and quieter.

HVAC System Options for Old Homes

Central AC Packaged System

If your home already has ductwork installed, a packaged system is an option. Some benefits of a packaged HVAC system is that the units typically run more efficiently than split systems (because they are assembled in a factory as a complete unit), and you get the luxury of more space inside your house, since the entire unit is placed outside. Some downsides may be that if you don’t already have existing ductwork, you will need to pay for ductwork installation. If you live in an area with harsh weather conditions or a lot of wildlife, you may need to consider whether or not an outdoor unit may be susceptible to damage.

Central AC Split System

If ductwork isn’t in the picture for your home, a split AC system is a great option. You may also prefer a split system for a number of reasons. To begin with, split systems require only minimal ‘ductwork’ in that they simply require a hole that fits a small tube. When thinking about energy efficiency, split systems often save more due to the fact that part of the unit is inside rather than exposed to extreme temperatures. While split systems do still involve installation of a wall unit in the house, they can be installed in locations that don’t disturb your design aesthetic and tend to be more visually appealing than window AC units.

How to Choose the Right Central AC System

It is certain that the presence or absence of ductwork is a big deciding factor in what you might select as your home AC system. More than that, your selection should fit within your budget, suit your preferences on noise level and home design, and be the right size for your house.

Be sure to enlist a professional HVAC technician when determining which type of AC system makes sense for you. The Wyckoff HVAC team will assess your home’s compatibility with various system types and help calculate the size of the unit needed.

Central AC Installation FAQs

Can you put central air in a house with no ductwork?

Usually, yes. Split-system AC units do not require existing ductwork for installation, and your home climate can still be controlled through zoning and a central control system.

How long does it take to install a central HVAC system?

It depends on whether ductwork installation is necessary, weather conditions, time of year, and how extensive your AC system is. Call Wyckoff to provide us with details on your home to get a more clear time estimate.

How much does it cost to install a new central air conditioning system?

The cost of a new HVAC system depends heavily on the size of the home, the type of system desired, and the amount of time it takes to install.

Contact Wyckoff for Questions on AC Options for Old Homes

Schedule a consultation with one of our professional HVAC technicians to assist you and advise you on installing a new AC solution in your home. We have served the Des Moines area for over 70 years and would be happy to be a part of putting peace of mind under your roof, no matter the age of your home.