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8Apr/110

How to Cool a Home without Central Air Conditioning

The lack of air conditioning in your home probably hasn't bothered you for the last 6 or so months, but now with summer approaching, the impending heat is starting to creep into your thoughts with dread. The hot nights make it difficult to sleep and your fans seem to provide very little relief. You don't have to suffer through summer though just because there's no central a/c. Here are some alternatives for keeping cool:

How to Keep Cool without Central Air Conditioning

Portable Air Conditioner

A portable air conditioner is an air conditioning unit that doesn't require permanent installation. With some minor set up and take down, it can be easily moved to a different room depending on where it's needed (i.e. living area during the day, bedroom at night). Residential portable air conditioners can cool rooms between 225-525 sq ft to temperatures as low as 60°F.

Portable air conditioners do require ventilation in order to run properly. The heat the unit creates and takes in must be dissipated outside of the room it is trying to cool so it can work efficiently. Most commonly, portable a/c's are vented through a window using a window vent kit. If a window isn't available, portable air conditioners can be vented through a dropped ceiling or, as a last resort, they can be vented into another room through the door. This last method will cause the other room or hallway to get very warm, and if there isn't something blocking the air from getting back into the room being cooled it might not reach the desired temperature.

Some portable air conditioners also have a heater function so they don't become useless in the winter and they can also dehumidify in the spring when humidity levels are high.

Learn more about portable air conditioners.

Window Air Conditioner

Window air conditioners are more well-known than portable air conditioners. They require more effort to install and are typically not moved once they are placed in a window. They are capable of cooling rooms up to 725 sq ft. If you don't have the floorspace for a portable air conditioner, then a window air conditioner is the best option for cooling your home.

A window air conditioner does not require additional venting like a portable air conditioner since most of the unit will be on the outside of the home. If you don't have a window available for holding the unit, then it is possible to have a window air conditioner installed through the wall. However, you should first ask a professional if it is possible to install the particular unit you are interested through a wall and hire a professional to install it for you.

Like some portable air conditioners, many window air conditioners also function as a heater so you receive additional warmth in the winter as well.

Learn more about window air conditioners.

Mini Split Air Conditioner

Mini split air conditioners are similar to central air conditioning in that they have an outdoor compressor/condenser and an indoor air-handling unit. The main advantage of having a mini split a/c is their small size and their cost effectiveness over central a/c. A mini split air conditioner must be installed by a professional and can cost more than a window or portable unit, but some have the capability of being hooked up to multiple air handling units so more than one room can be cooled at a time.

These units don't require any duct work, so the energy loss associated with air conditioning ducts are avoided and less energy is consumed than with central air. They attach to a wall, but only require about a 3 inch hole be made in the wall for it to hook up the condenser unit outside.

All mini split units also function as a heater and a dehumidifier. They are fairly low maintenance once installed and can be controlled with a remote like portable air conditioners and window units.

Learn more about mini split air conditioners.

Residential Air Cooler

Residential air coolers, or evaporative air coolers, are not air conditioners, so they are not able to cool down an entire room, but with the same amount of energy as a light bulb, an evaporative air cooler can keep you cool. An air cooler works better than a normal fan because the unit is filled with water (or ice water if you prefer), which causes the air to feel cooler. It's similar to how your breath feels cool if you blow on your arm, but it feels even cooler if your arm is wet and you blow on it.

A residential air cooler doesn't require any permanent installation. Many come with caster wheels so they can be moved to any room that you desire. They simply require an outlet and water to operate. Eventually, the air cooler will up all of the water that is in its reservoir, so you will have to refill it occasionally, but it shouldn't require any additional set up or maintenance.

As stated above, evaporative air coolers use very little energy when running. If you want to feel cooler but don't want to waste the energy running an air conditioner, a residential air cooler is the best available appliance for the job.

Learn more about evaporative air coolers.

Fans & Water or Ice

If the heat situation hasn't escalated to the point where you're wanting to spend money on an air conditioning unit or an air cooler, then there is an alternative. A fan, or if you want to get fancy "an air circulator," can be set up to function as an air cooler fairly easily.

Simply place the fan on a window sill and set up a table in front of the fan or something tall enough to reach the window sill and wide enough to hold a tray. Fill a tray with water (or ice water, if you prefer) and put it on the table in front of the fan. Turn on the fan.

It's really that easy! Though it could end up being messy and isn't quite as portable as an air cooler, this method should effectively work the same way. The air the fan is blowing should cool down as it skims over the water. You will probably have to be sitting fairly close to the table though to feel the cool air.

View our assortment of fans.

Other Resources:

Portable Air Conditioner BTU Chart
BTU Calculator

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