Pros and Cons: Window AC vs. Central AC

In our Pros and Cons series, we weigh the advantages and disadvantages of important decisions that apartment dwellers are making every day.

While you’re searching for your first apartment, you’ll have to choose between an apartment with window air conditioner units or centralized air conditioning. It’s natural, then, if you’re wondering which is more effective, sustainable, and cost-efficient. Or maybe all these considerations come second to your comfort and preferences. To that end, below, discover the pros and cons of window AC units versus central AC.

Pros of window AC over central AC

Uses less energy

If you have a smaller apartment, window AC units are more energy-efficient than central AC units. Central AC units are large appliances that can rack up your energy bill. Window AC units are usually affordable in smaller apartments because they don’t use as much energy as a central air conditioning system. If you want an energy-efficient unit, window AC units with a government-approved Energy Star rating on them are especially ideal.Pros and Cons Window AC vs. Central AC

Easier to fix

Window AC units are easier to fix than centralized air conditioners. If your apartment is equipped with multiple window air conditioners and one breaks, you can fix or get a new one at a relatively low cost. Fixing a central AC system, on the other hand, can be quite costly, and your landlord may hold you responsible for some of the costs.

More common and flexible

Many apartments come with window AC units because they are more flexible to use than central air conditioners. You can place them wherever and set each room’s unit to different temperatures, giving you more control over your apartment’s climate. Window AC units are also very easy to use and efficiently cool apartments that are on the smaller side.

Cons of Window AC vs Central AC

Worse filtration and air circulation

Window air conditioners are not as good at filtering incoming air as central air conditioners. Although window air conditioners have filters and newer models come with better filters than older models, window AC filters aren’t as powerful as the filtration systems found in central air conditioners. 

Additionally, if you have allergies or asthma, central air conditioners are much better for your health than window AC units. Central air conditioners have filters in their ducts that automatically filter indoor air before cooling and releasing it into a room. 

Newer models of central air conditioners may also have micro-particle filters and dehumidifiers that can help purify indoor air. If you’re searching for an apartment in an area with high levels of humidity, the filters in a central air conditioner may best lower the apartment’s humidity levels. With a central AC unit, an apartment can feel more comfortable to breathe and live in than an apartment that has window AC units.

Imperfect sealing

Window AC units can be less effective than central AC units due to poor insulation. If a window AC unit has cracks around it that let outside air enter your apartment, the unit may not work well and can thus raise your energy bill. Central AC units are better in this regard since they’re not installed in windows that may have cracks that let in the outside elements. 

Installation can be a hassle

Window AC units can be inconvenient to install, especially if you’re doing it alone. Although they’re less inexpensive, window air conditioners can be heavy and can’t be installed in just any window. If you can find an apartment that already has central air conditioning, getting started with your cooling needs is much easier. 

Which do you prefer: window AC units or centralized air conditioners? Sound off in the comments!

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