A central HVAC system is designed to feed heated or cooled air through your ductwork, thus facilitating the desirable temperature changes. More specifically, with a central heating system, the warmth originates from one main source of heat, but it ends up warming a number of spaces throughout your home. Similarly, central air conditioning involves cooling air at a central location and distributing it to other parts of your home via ductwork.
Truth be told, central heat and air can bring a higher level of comfort to your home, but it comes at a cost. According to the US.News, central air conditioning installation costs anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000, and the cost increases if the ductwork needs to be replaced or modified. Fortunately, there are several alternatives to central heat and air conditioner systems you can explore.
Window Air Conditioners
Window air conditioners are relatively cheaper to purchase per unit, so they’re one of the best alternatives to central heat and air conditioner systems. The biggest advantage of this option is that it can be installed and removed easily. That means you can easily install it yourself without having to hire a residential air conditioning service. In addition, it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle if you need to take it along with you when relocating. Other pros associated with window air conditioners are they represent a quick and effective way to cool your home, and it’s possible to find many energy-efficient options.
As the name suggests, window air conditioners are mounted on windows, but you also have the option of having your unit permanently installed through an outside wall. There are many HVAC companies that offer this service. When shopping around for the right window air conditioner, you can find a wide range of sizes with various cooling capacities to suit your needs. It’s important to find a unit that can comfortably cool your space because affordability doesn’t mean you have to compromise your comfort. To keep things affordable, be sure to compare as many options as possible.
Portable Air Conditioners
The name is pretty explanatory. Portable air conditioners are small enough to move around easily, which explains why they are one of the more affordable alternatives to central heat and air conditioner systems. Depending on your budget and needs, you can get a unit for anywhere from several hundred dollars to a thousand dollars or more. You can save even more money with a portable air conditioner because there’s no installation required and, therefore, no need to look for air conditioning companies to perform the installation. Portable air conditioners also come with several other benefits, such as the ability to move them from room to room as needed.
That means you may not need to install an air conditioner in every room, as is sometimes the case with window air conditioners. Some may argue that moving the air conditioner from room to room can be cumbersome, but it’s worth the effort if it means you can avoid the cost of AC conditioning installation. Portable units are also better than window units because they don’t restrict your window view or block light from outside. Neither do they affect your home’s curb appeal. Another way you can increase the cost-effectiveness of portable air conditioners is by purchasing an energy-efficient option with eco-friendly energy ratings.
Room and Whole House Fans
Electric fans are one of the simplest alternatives to central heat and air conditioner systems. While it’s true that they might not be as effective as central HVAC systems, they may be worth your while if you perform a thorough cost-benefit analysis. If affordability is your top priority, then you’ll find that fans can be a great idea, especially since you can purchase a single fan quite cheaply. It’s safe to say that this is one of the most affordable cooling options with very low energy consumption. What’s more, you don’t have to worry about hiring an AC service or having harmful cooling chemicals in your home.
As mentioned, you won’t need an air conditioning contracting service since all you have to do is carry the fan to your desired location and plug it in. With whole-house fans, these are powerful enough to create a refreshing breeze, and again the installation is simple. Whole house fans cost a bit more than room fans, but they can be as effective as other cooling methods. In addition, you can save even more with energy-efficient options. Overall, fans are affordable to operate and purchase, and they can save you a lot of money over time while helping to keep your home comfortably cool.
Energy Saving Electric Radiators
So far, we have explored several alternatives to central heat and air conditioner systems from the perspective of cooling your home. But what affordable alternatives are there that can help you keep your home comfortably warm during the colder months. One suitable option is buying an energy-saving electric radiator. By purchasing an energy-efficient radiator, you can ensure that it pays for itself over time by reducing your overall household energy consumption and energy bill. The good news is that purchasing an electric radiator is definitely cheaper than what you would pay to install a central HVAC system.
However, when purchasing an electric radiator, it’s essential to realize that this is different from a storage heater. Storage heaters are not very efficient, so even if it might be cheaper to buy one, you might find that this energy guzzler can cost you a lot over time. In any case, most storage heaters can just be as costly as installing central heating. What you need is a plug-in electric radiator that doesn’t have to break the bank to purchase and operate. This type of radiator comes with several benefits, such as the ability to quickly heat up and convenient thermostatic control that gives you better control when you want to keep the cold at bay.
Evaporative Air Cooler
As the name suggests, an evaporative air cooler is a type of air conditioning system that can also keep your home cooler when you don’t have central heating and air conditioning. It’s possible to purchase an evaporative air cooler for under $100 but be prepared to spend considerably more if you want to buy a whole-house unit for more effective cooling. In any case, you can find many portable and lightweight options that can be easily relocated to different rooms or from home to home should you move down the line. The affordability of an evaporative air cooler is enhanced by the fact that you can find energy-efficient options that can also act as window units or roof and ducted systems.
The only issue with an evaporator air cooler is that it may come with heavy water usage, and this, in turn, can detract from the energy savings brought about by reduced energy consumption. In addition, you might find yourself having to pay more if you need to have ducts installed. Also, keep in mind that an evaporative air cooler is more suited to dry climates because it works by evaporating water and increasing the amount of moisture in the air to decrease the temperatures in your home. Still, if you live in the right type of environment, this is one of the best affordable alternatives to central heat and air conditioner systems.
Electric Blankets and Heated Throws
Are you looking for more affordable alternatives to central heat and air conditioners? If you need to keep your home warm without straining your budget, the solution could be as simple as using electric blankets and heated throws. Electric blankets are especially effective at keeping you warm during those cold winter nights that have the potential to rob you of a comfortable sleep. All you have to do is pre-heat the electric blanket well before you slip into bed. This will ensure that you never have the chance to feel the shivers from the cold. These days, there are even more innovative options, such as heated throws and cushions.
Most of these options are quite cheap. They certainly cost less than what the installation for central heat and air conditioning requires, so you can save a pretty penny. While electric blankets belong mostly in the bedroom, you can still enjoy a warm environment by surrounding yourself with heated throws and cushions while seated and watching TV. Other cost-efficient heating options you can explore are the good old-fashioned water bottle and a roaring fire, whether it’s an open fire, a gas fire, or even a log burner. Hot water bottles come in a variety of styles, and they can be super effective at helping your body retain heat when placed in strategic positions.
Natural Cooling and Heating
One of the easiest alternatives to central heat and air conditioning is to take advantage of natural methods to keep your home cool. This is usually a good idea if you live in areas where the temperatures are not extreme. Otherwise, it’s not as effective as other alternatives that we have looked at. For instance, if the temperatures are moderately hot, one way of cooling your home is to simply open your window to let some air in. This method is quite effective if there’s a strong breeze happening outside. Natural air circulation usually works when there’s a breeze. Otherwise, you run the risk of letting the hot air inside and making your home even less comfortable.
Given this, this method is probably better if the heat outside is not too dry. In any case, the affordability lies in the fact that you don’t have to pay anyone to experience a cooling effect. You can save money just by throwing the windows open and enjoying the cool refreshing air. Similarly, if you’re looking to heat your home, you can take advantage of the days when the sun comes out. Opening the curtains and letting the sun’s rays can help raise the temperature by a few degrees though will have to combine this with other methods if you want to make your home more comfortable.
Other Ways to Reduce Your Heating and Cooling Costs
Being a smart homeowner is all about being savvy and looking for ways to reduce the costs of living in your home. At any given point, you might need to hire roofing contractors, plumbing services, and AC contractors to keep things running smoothly. However, all of these things add up, so it makes sense to find ways to reduce costs and keep your budget reasonable. One of these ways is to find cost-effective alternatives to central heat and air conditioners. The good news is there are numerous ways to keep things affordable in this department. For instance, when it comes to heating your home, you can install insulation to prevent air leaks and do other things that increase the overall efficiency of your home.
As for the cooling part, once you purchase the more affordable AC options, it’s a good idea to perform regular maintenance to minimize the risk of AC repair. Each of the alternatives that we have explored has its own pros and cons, and it’s up to you to weigh these pros and cons to determine the best option for you. Generally, the more you’re willing to spend, the easier it will be to keep your home comfortable. In any case, having many options to choose from means, you can easily find something that works for you.
The biggest benefit of central heat and air conditioning is better climate control that allows you to sail smoothly through the colder and hotter months of the air. This explains why many new homes in the US rely on central HVAC systems, according to the Department of energy. That said, there are still many alternatives to central heat and air conditioners if this option doesn’t align with your budget. By opting for affordable alternatives to central heat and air conditioners, you can save a lot on installation and maintenance costs. This helps you to beat the heat or the cold without straining your finances.