Central Air Conditioning Buying Guide

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Other Details to Consider

Programmable thermostats. Setting your smart or programmable thermostat at the right temperature can reduce your cooling costs by about 10 percent. The right temperature depends on your comfort level, but start by setting it at 78° F and experiment until you find the sweet spot. You’ll save about 3 percent on your utility bill for every degree you raise the set temperature for your central air, according to the Department of Energy. And keep in mind that using a box or ceiling fan, which costs little to run, can make you feel 3° F to 4° F cooler.

Outdoor space. The compressor needs adequate airflow to operate correctly, so make sure to keep at least 2 to 3 feet of space between the unit and any plants or structures. There should also be 5 feet of clearance between the top of the unit and any trees above. You’ll also want to make sure there’s enough space for you or a technician to access and service the unit. And your local building codes might have regulations about how close an outdoor compressor is allowed to be to a neighbor’s window or property line.