Are Colorado summers getting hotter, or are we simply losing our tolerance for heat as we age? That is a question a lot of are asking as we contemplate the cooling needs of our homes.

If you’ve lived with trying to keep your home cool with a few well placed fans, or trying to move a portable unit around from room to room, you understand how frustrating it can be. But what choice do you have if your home doesn’t have central air in place?Adding Central Air To Your Home

A whole house central air conditioning system would be nice, but if you already have forced air furnace ducts in place, modifying it would be costly and the results would be anything but efficient … right?

That’s what many people think when they have older homes without central air. But the good news is installing central air is easier and less costly than you might think.

Depending on the duct work already in place in your home, a central air system can often be put into place with little or no change in the ducting. And if new duct work is needed, an experienced contractor will retrofit or cleverly hide ductwork behind walls, in the back of closest, in the attic or in the ceiling with very little mess.

The first step is selecting the right HVAC equipment. Be wary of a contractor that makes a selection without seeing your house or evaluating the heat gain within your home. An incorrectly sized unit will make your home run less than efficiently, and wind up costing you both in energy bills and in potential early failure of your equipment.

Most central air conditioning systems are split systems, meaning the condenser is outside and the fan and coil system is inside, connected by pipes that carry refrigerant. If you have a forced air furnace, the refrigerant pipes are connected to a cooling coil system fitted to the furnace air handler.

Even the quietest condensers make noise, so it’s important to place the condenser away from locations you use frequently, such as by a home office or a bedroom window. Any airflow restriction will lower the unit’s efficiency, so be aware of where you place the unit so as not to block it in from an air stream. You can hide it with landscaping as long as air can freely circulate around it.

If you already have ducts in place for heating, in many cases the same ducts can be modified to accommodate the greater volume of air produced by air conditioning. Older duct systems are often larger in size, and in many cases work best when retrofitting. If work is needed on the ducts, it often includes upsizing the furnace blower to move the cool air through your home, and to seal existing duct work to boost efficiency. You may also have to swap out older supply registers for ones that allow a greater volume of air to pass.

Is central air something you can easily attain, even if your house has never had it before? In most cases, it’s easier than you think. Get started by having a trained HVAC contractor take a look at your current system and determine the right path for you.