Installing a central air conditioner is not a do-it-yourself project, so you should discuss the following with a qualified air-conditioning contractor:
First, find out whether your house can readily accept an air-conditioning system. Installing one usually only makes sense if a house is being newly constructed or has a forced-air heating system that the air conditioner can piggyback on. Retrofitting the needed ductwork in an existing home is simply too expensive in most cases.
Even in a home with usable ductwork, a standard central air-conditioning system can cost $3,000 to $6,000 or more to install. Because the cost depends on so many variables, the only way to pinpoint it is to get at least three bids.
Central air conditioners run on electricity for the compressor, blower, and fan. In some hot climates, where an air conditioner must run frequently, this can push energy costs sky-high. The amount of electricity needed to run a central AC depends on two things: cooling capacity and energy efficiency (measured by a SEER), so make sure you inquire about both before making your purchase. The more efficient the air conditioning system, the less it will cost in the long run.
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