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How Much Does Ducted Air Conditioning Cost?

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If you want to stay cool and comfortable on the hottest summer days and nights, a ducted air conditioning system is one of the best choices you can make. Even though these systems can be expensive you are making a good investment in your home. There are several important factors to consider when you install ducted air con and these factors can give you a good idea of what the costs will be.

What Kind of Air Conditioning System Do You Want?

You can choose between four types of ducted air con systems, and they are:

  • Standard or conventional - if you are on a budget and you want ducted air conditioning, this is the best choice. These units are cheaper to buy and install and are relatively simple to operate. However, they are not the most efficient air conditioning systems.
  • Inverter - uses a variable speed compressor and it slows down as demand decreases. This can save a considerable amount of energy.
  • Digital compressor - it can vary compressor output even more than an inverter system and save you more on power.
  • Reverse cycle - cools in the summer and heats in the winter by reversing its action.

What is a Reverse Cycle System?

Reverse cycle works on standard air conditioning principles. Evaporating gas cools by removing heat. All you need to do is stand in front of an electric fan as soon as you get out of the shower and you will feel cooler. This is caused by water evaporating and taking heat from your body. AC systems basically do the same thing.

Refrigerant is pumped from evaporator coils (where it evaporates into gas and removes heat from the air) to condenser coils (where it condenses back to liquid and heat is removed from the coils by a fan). This is why you can feel warm air when you stand behind the condenser unit of an air conditioner.

A reverse cycle system cools like conventional air con in summer. In winter, it reverses and removes heat from the out of doors and transfers it into your home interior. This provides several benefits:

  • Energy efficiency
  • No need for a separate heat system
  • Cheaper to install than a central heating and cooling system

What is a Ducted Air Con System?

Ducted air conditioning has air ducts for each room or area of your home. For larger homes with many rooms this is the best option for even and efficient cooling. This way, one part of the home will not be cooler or warmer than another. However, ducted systems are more expensive because there is a lot of labour involved in the installation process. Ducts have to be run above ceilings, under floors or behind your walls. If your home is relatively small, you may be able to save a lot of money with an efficient ductless system.

Sizing Your Air Con System

When it comes to cooling, bigger is not always better. It's best to have a system large enough to handle your needs but not too large. If your AC is too small it will have to work too hard and run all the time. This will use a great deal of electricity and it will wear out before its time.

When AC is too large for the area it is cooling, it can create two problems. First, the unit will be starting up and shutting down frequently and this uses more power because there is a great deal of energy used on start-up. Also, because the unit is not running often enough, it may not remove enough excess humidity from the home. If you live in an area with wet and humid summers, this can be a problem and you may be uncomfortable at times.

Your AC professional can look at your home and tell you the best size for your needs.

What about Cost?

Everyone is concerned about cost these days and here are some helpful tips for estimating prices.

Conventional AC Costs

A small system for an apartment area may cost between two and five thousand dollars to purchase and have it installed. Single storey houses may cost between five and ten thousand. If your home is more than one storey, your costs may be fifteen thousand dollars or more.

Inverter and Digital Costs

The installation process is similar to conventional with these systems. An inverter system can cost as much as 20 percent more than conventional and digital another 20 percent or more over standard inverter systems.

Reverse Cycle Costs

A reverse cycle system is expensive and an apartment size can cost as much as five thousand dollars. For a single storey home it is not uncommon to pay ten thousand and large homes can cost as much as 50 percent more.

A Word about Costs

As you can see, the costs can vary a great deal due to size, demands and the type of energy efficiency you want. The more efficient unit you choose, the more it will cost. However, you will make this money back over the years with increased savings in power.

First, decide what kind of cooling system you want. Next, check out the size of the total area you need to cool. Talk to at least three professional air con companies and ask about free in home estimates. With three written estimates in hand, you should know how much money you will need to spend.

Tips for Saving Money on Air Conditioning

Once your new AC system is installed you can take these simple steps to increase its efficiency and save even more money on energy costs:

  • Check your windows - this is the biggest source of air loss in the home. If they need sealing, this is a good time to take care of the matter.
  • Consider installing insulated curtains or drapes. This helps to keep window air loss to a minimum.
  • Ask your air con professional about a programmable wall thermostat. This allows you to raise the temperature a few degrees while you are away and it will have the house back to your comfort level by the time you return home. This can save a great deal on energy.
  • Change filters on a regular basis.
  • Have your air con system checked and cleaned every year.

Ducted air conditioning costs can vary a great deal and these estimates are only intended to be guidelines.

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