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Old 05-29-2013, 10:46 PM   #1
SK330ci
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Cheap Whole House A/C

Every summer my electric bill skyrockets with the use of my central A/C system. My A/C system can quickly add $200 to $300 hundred dollars to my electric bill. Granted, without going outside I'd guess my system is 15 to 18 years old, so not real efficient. My house is a split level with about 2200 sf, the lower level is half in the ground, so the lower level stays pretty cool almost on its own. The upper level is a different situation though, it gets plenty hot on a warm sunny day, the house has almost no shading so the sun can easily heat soak the house. On a sunny 82F degree day, the inside of the house can easily get hotter by several degrees (A/C is Off) compared to the outside temp.

So I'm at Costco and stumble across the A/C units they have on display, and this gets me thinking. I go home and take measurements and run some cost calculations. First, the smallest 6000 BTU A/C unit that Costco sells for $140 will just fit into a widow centrally located for optimum flow. Second, this unit only uses 4.9 amps / 560 watts when running, but I'm thinking it would need to run 24 hours a day, every day until it cools down. So based on my total (all taxes and fees) Kilowatt cost, I estimate that with it running all the time for 30 days I'd be looking at $68 to $70 dollars.

Well last night I purchased and installed this A/C unit, the house was warm at 78-79 degrees with a little humidity. Within 3 hours the entire upper level was down to 75 degrees, when I woke up this morning the temp was down to 70 degrees and no feeling of humidity. So far so good.

Today's temp in my region hit 90 degrees with 100% sunshine, and very slowly over the course of the day the temp went up (upper level) to 75 degrees. When I walked in at 5pm it felt so very good inside, just like if my central A/C had been on. So far I'm very encouraged, the next few days will all be in the low 90's and that will be a real good test.
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Old 05-30-2013, 08:43 AM   #2
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I would be interested to see what your bill is going to be with a window unit. If you're looking for another way to save on costs you can cover your windows during the day with blinds. You'd be shocked how much a single window with direct sun light can raise the temperature in a room.
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Old 05-30-2013, 08:49 AM   #3
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Window units can costs as little as $25-$50 per year and AC a 20x20 room.

They are ugly, but they work.

I am going to AC my garage with one.
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Old 05-30-2013, 10:46 AM   #4
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Window units can costs as little as $25-$50 per year and AC a 20x20 room.
What do you think the cost per room would be on an updated/efficient central air system all things else considered equal?

A few years ago I lived in a rental that had two air units. My electricity bill was non-existent while I lived there, especially during the winters when I ran baseboard radiators running off gas (which was paid for by the building).
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Old 05-30-2013, 11:41 AM   #5
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What do you think the cost per room would be on an updated/efficient central air system all things else considered equal?

A few years ago I lived in a rental that had two air units. My electricity bill was non-existent while I lived there, especially during the winters when I ran baseboard radiators running off gas (which was paid for by the building).
Well for starters, you have a huge initial cost ($5k-$15k) depending on the size of the house. Then you have the electrical bill.

I was really surprised at the cost ratings of the in window units.

My electrical bill goes up $100-$200 per month in the summer in Florida.

I have no doubt that a window unit in almost every room would be MUCH cheaper than central AC. Of course, it would look horrible.
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Old 05-30-2013, 11:50 AM   #6
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Having an up to date and appropriately sized central unit will be much cheaper to run in the long term, it will be much more cash up front though. Depending on what you get, there are lots of rebates from your state, federal, and electric company that can help offset a good portion of the cost.

The cheapest way to cool a room is to get good blinds or shades. We have the ones that have the reflective cover on the window side and it works wonders to lower room temp while you're gone. Other things to consider are ceiling fans to help circulate cool air through the house.

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Old 05-30-2013, 01:24 PM   #7
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I would be interested to see what your bill is going to be with a window unit. If you're looking for another way to save on costs you can cover your windows during the day with blinds. You'd be shocked how much a single window with direct sun light can raise the temperature in a room.
I just opened a new electric bill I got and it came out to about 0.135 cents per Kilowatt, that cheaper rate would give me a total cost of about $55 dollars for a 30 day period - 24/7. I do have blinds and curtains on all of my windows, plus I have that plastic shrink wrap on my big bay windows.

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Having an up to date and appropriately sized central unit will be much cheaper to run in the long term, it will be much more cash up front though. Depending on what you get, there are lots of rebates from your state, federal, and electric company that can help offset a good portion of the cost.

The cheapest way to cool a room is to get good blinds or shades. We have the ones that have the reflective cover on the window side and it works wonders to lower room temp while you're gone. Other things to consider are ceiling fans to help circulate cool air through the house.
Fans are definitely part of the plan, they are very cost effective at moving air.


So today's temp at 2pm is 91 degrees & 100% sunny. My current inside temp is 75 degrees, I'm very happy with this. The window I'm using is on the back of the house so luckily no one can see it, everyone is correct, window A/C's are ugly.

I'll keep you posted on temps and my thoughts.
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Old 05-30-2013, 01:37 PM   #8
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I was told by someone (can't even remember) that the only realistic difference between an el cheapo A/C whole house unit and a really nice one (such as Trane) is the quality of the parts/longevity. That, at least assuming your house is all electric...all A/C units (assuming they are the same age) will have around the same efficiency. I don't know if that holds true or not but if it does that sounds pretty horrible...
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Old 05-30-2013, 01:51 PM   #9
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I was told by someone (can't even remember) that the only realistic difference between an el cheapo A/C whole house unit and a really nice one (such as Trane) is the quality of the parts/longevity. That, at least assuming your house is all electric...all A/C units (assuming they are the same age) will have around the same efficiency. I don't know if that holds true or not but if it does that sounds pretty horrible...
The SEER and EER ratings determine how efficient a unit is, the brand probably determines the quality. Higher the number the better.
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Old 05-30-2013, 04:14 PM   #10
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The SEER and EER ratings determine how efficient a unit is, the brand probably determines the quality. Higher the number the better.
This 6000 BTU window unit has a 10.7 EER rating.

5pm, 94 degrees outside and a pleasant 77 degrees inside with the feeling of no humidity.
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Old 05-31-2013, 11:12 AM   #11
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I was told by someone (can't even remember) that the only realistic difference between an el cheapo A/C whole house unit and a really nice one (such as Trane) is the quality of the parts/longevity. That, at least assuming your house is all electric...all A/C units (assuming they are the same age) will have around the same efficiency. I don't know if that holds true or not but if it does that sounds pretty horrible...
no, absolutely not true. the fans, compressors, heat exchangers will all differ depending on the rated efficiency.
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Old 05-31-2013, 01:52 PM   #12
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OK,

So far this is working out.

2:45 pm and the temp outside is 91 degrees and very sunny, inside temp is 76 degrees and no humidity. I have positioned two medium sized fans to help with cold air distribution.
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Old 07-03-2013, 03:47 PM   #13
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Update:

OK, its been a little over a month since I installed my A/C unit. What I've found is that when we'd get a few hot days, particularly sunny days, the house would get heat soaked. When it became heat soaked, the 6000 btu A/C couldn't keep up. Inside temps would range between 80-82 degrees on the bad days, but humidity would be (low) good. As we venture deeper into summertime, it of course is becoming hotter & hotter, so I decided to up the ante and I bought another $140 dollar A/C unit (same exact one) from Costco. I have now installed this unit in an upstairs (same level as first A/C) side of house bedroom window. This combo has only been running a few days now, but the results seem very promising. I'll keep you informed.
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Old 07-05-2013, 08:24 PM   #14
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Electric bill for the month?
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Old 07-13-2013, 03:03 PM   #15
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Attic exhaust fans...
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Old 07-22-2013, 12:21 PM   #16
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Attic exhaust fans...
Got them, they run off of a temp controller, so they cycle on and off as needed.

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Electric bill for the month?

OK, i just got my electric bill,......................................$148 dollars, this number is outstanding!!!!!

The electric company shows you a graph of last years usage and this years usage, June and July 2013 are Exactly Half of last years bill.

Just as Charlie Sheen said,..........WINNING!!!!!!!!
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Old 07-23-2013, 07:56 AM   #17
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Cheap Whole House A/C

OP, do you have dual temp controllers on your central air? If not those can save big money.


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Old 07-23-2013, 01:04 PM   #18
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OP, do you have dual temp controllers on your central air? If not those can save big money.

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No, my main A/C system is old and not efficient in any way. It should be replaced, i was trying this out as a creative way to save money and accomplish the same goal. When i do upgrade/install a new system, i will definitely consider dual temp control.

I will say that I've already "broke-even" and better, on this window a/c adventure.
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Old 06-10-2014, 01:11 AM   #19
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My house is pre-wired for central A/C but was always too cheap to get one..this summer I'm fed up with sweating my balls off so I'm looking to get one installed...what should I expect to pay for a decent one with dual zone climate control? The home is about 1600 sq ft, two stories. Also I'd like to see if they can reroute the wires as the unit would be right under a window outside of the dining room.
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Old 06-16-2014, 05:08 PM   #20
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^ Probably like $4k to install the whole thing.
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