Here in the greater Washington, D.C./Maryland area, most homes and businesses have air conditioning. Temperatures in the 90s are not unusual from June to September, and the accompanying humidity makes it feel even hotter.
Before central air conditioners became commonplace in our area in the 1950s, many homes were built with “sleeping porches,” or screened-in outdoor spaces that were meant to be a refuge on the hottest summer nights. Today, many of those homes have been retrofitted with central air conditioners, now considered a necessity.
Air Conditioning: It’s the Law Now
However, it’s not unusual to drive through Montgomery Village and other parts of Montgomery County and see many room air conditioners installed in apartment windows. MoCo tenants who wanted to stay cool in the summer were on their own until last year when the County Council passed a bill forcing rental companies to provide air conditioning to tenants.
The bill, which says landlords must ensure apartments don’t exceed 80 degrees in summer, does not require landlords and property managers to install central air conditioners, however; they are allowed to install window units instead if they so choose.
Central Air: Weighing the Costs
While retrofitting a building for central air conditioning is not a cheap endeavor, it can make more sense than adding window units. A window unit that’s meant to cool 550 square feet often costs between $400 and $500. Putting several window units in each apartment in a 200-unit building could quickly get prohibitively expensive.
If your building already uses a forced-air heating system, retrofitting for central air conditioning could actually cost less, since the ductwork is already in place.
Central Air v. Window Units
Whether you’re a landlord or a homeowner looking at installing central air, there are other factors to consider besides cost.
A building with hundreds of window unit air conditioners would be arguably unattractive. They would all need to be properly secured so they didn’t fall from the windows. They would also need to either be taken out each fall and reinstalled each spring or covered with an insulating barrier — all of which would take many hours of labor.
Moreover, individual window units make rooms dark and depressing, especially if they are left in year-round. They’re loud, making conversation difficult and making sleeping problematic as they cycle on and off all night long.
They also cool extremely unevenly. Icy air blasts from the unit, making the space right next to it freezing cold while the spot in front of the TV remains uncomfortably warm. Bathrooms and hallways stay hot and muggy.
Central air conditioners are better in every way. They cool evenly, quietly, and efficiently. If you’re a landlord, your apartments will be in greater demand with central air. If you’re a homeowner, your home value will be significantly higher with the addition of central air.
Top Air Conditioning Company
Presidential Heating & Air Conditioning of Gaithersburg has been installing central air conditioners in homes, businesses, and rental properties throughout the greater Washington, D.C./Maryland area for 40 years. Call us for an estimate to install, repair or replace your central air conditioning unit.