Affordable Alternatives to Central Air Conditioning

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  • Not everybody can afford traditional air conditioning.
  • Fortunately, there are plenty affordable alternatives to central air conditioning to keep you comfortable without breaking the bank.

If you have central air conditioning, you’re lucky! Unfortunately, many people don’t have the luxury of owning air conditioning, or they simply can’t afford to run their unit throughout the year.

However, you can find some reprieve. There are plenty of affordable alternatives to central air conditioning that can keep you comfortable without running up your energy bill. The best way to find these alternatives is by searching online.

To help in searching for the right alternative for you, here are some options that are worth checking out. So, don’t wait! Make sure you beat the heat today.

Window Air Conditioners

Price: $200 to $1,000 per unit

The classic window air conditioner is affordable, small, and easy to install. These devices are most often installed on a window that opens outward, though some models come with brackets to enable installation on a closed window.

However, these air conditioners are only meant to cool one room, so it is best to know what you want air conditioning for before buying. Window air conditioners aren’t cost-effective if you want to cool an entire house.


  • Effective at cooling and lowering the humidity in a room.
  • Easy to install and remove if you want to relocate the unit.
  • Doesn’t take up floor space.


  • Some landlords and homeowner associations have banned the use of window air conditioners due to how unattractive they look.
  • Only cools one room.

Portable Air Conditioners

Price: $300 to $1,500 per unit

If you want to cool your whole home without buying multiple air conditioners, consider a portable air conditioner.

The biggest draw of this unit is its versatility. Portable air conditioners can be moved from room to room as needed. Plus, these air conditioners come with a hose and adapter kits to vent hot air out of any exterior wall opening, such as a window or fireplace.

But that portability comes at a cost. Portable air conditioners are well known for being noisy and using a lot of energy.


  • Easy to relocate.
  • No need for professional help to set up.


  • Slightly more expensive than other options.
  • Can take up precious floor space in a smaller home.
  • Noisier than most air conditioning.

Evaporative Air Coolers

Price: $70 to $1,000

Often referred to as a swamp cooler, an evaporative air cooler is a device that produces cool air through evaporation. Moreover, this alternative is available as portable or whole house units.

Although more expensive than traditional portable fans, evaporative air coolers provide a more comfortable cooling environment by blowing air over water pads, which are cooled by either electricity or batteries. The result is clean, moist air that feels as if it’s flowing from a light breeze and instant relief from hot temperatures.

Just be aware that these units use a whole lot of water.


  • Most effective in dry climates.
  • Uses far less electricity to operate than other air conditioners.
  • No chemicals used for cooling.


  • Some types of evaporative air coolers require installation, which can lead to an increase in cost.
  • What these units save in electricity may be cancelled out by the heavy water usage.

Room Fans

Price: $5 to $300 per fan

Despite what people may think, fans don’t actually cool a room. Rather, they cool the people in a room by pushing hot air out of the area. While room fans can’t compare to traditional air conditioning, they do offer almost instant relief.

On top of providing instant relief, room fans are highly affordable. Since room fans only require electricity to run, you avoid the costs, such as installation and maintenance, that comes with other forms of air conditioning.


  • Highly affordable.
  • Low electricity usage.
  • Easy to transport between rooms.


  • Room fans don’t actually cool a room.
  • Depending on the model, the noise may be distracting.

Whole House Fans

Price: $250 to $2,000 per unit, plus installation

If you aren’t using your attic for anything, you may want to consider installing a whole house fan. This fan system cools a house by pulling in cool air from outside, while forcing hot air out through the attic. Better yet, it cools down one’s house much quicklier than central air conditioning, is energy efficient, and can even help improve air quality.

However, you should know that whole house fans are only effective if the air it brings in is cooler than the air it pumps out. As such, it is best to run these systems during the night or when the temperature outside matches what you desire inside.


  • Energy efficient.
  • Works best when in tandem with other cooling methods.


  • Installation can drive up the cost.
  • Only effective when the outside air is cooler than the air already inside the house.
  • Not a one-stop cooling solution.