The Cost Of Window Units Vs. HVAC Systems



Keeping your home climate comfortable is an important job. The scorching California summer is approaching quickly, and that means your San Bernardino, CA household will need an AC unit that’s reliable and effective. However, the process of shopping for a new cooling system can be a bit overwhelming. There are several popular kinds of air conditioners to choose from and numerous variables that you need to consider before selecting one. Two of the most common types of household cooling systems are HVAC systems and window units. Although these two kinds of systems do the same job, there are numerous differences between them.

AC Fan


The biggest differentiator between HVAC systems and window units is the primary purpose each is used for. Window units, as you’d expect, are installed in or near one of your windows, and they’re typically used for cooling a single room or a small section of your house.

HVAC systems, on the other hand, are connected to your household ventilation system and circulate cool air around your entire house. There are multiple types of HVAC systems, with central air units being the most common choice.


One of the most attractive aspects of window AC units is their affordability. Even if you purchase a large, high-end window unit, it’s unlikely you’ll be spending more than $1,500 or so. Alternatively, if you’re in the market for a smaller unit, you may even be able to score one for as little as $100.

However, you also have to consider how many of these units you’ll be purchasing. If you spend the majority of your time in one room, you may be content with having only one window unit. However, if you intend to use window AC systems to cool down your entire household, you’ll probably need a few separate units.

As for HVAC systems, they’re quite a bit more expensive on average, but you’ll never need to purchase more than one of them for your home. The price of an HVAC air conditioner can vary quite a bit based on size, type, and efficiency, with costs ranging from $1,000 all the way up to $10,000.

Another nice thing about window units is that you can usually install them yourself. The installation process should only take around an hour or two per unit, and you save the money that you’d have to pay an installation technician. While our skilled cooling experts at 4 Points A/C & Heating can install your HVAC system for a fair price, that’s still an expense that you won’t have if you go with a window unit.


Window AC units are renowned for their energy efficiency. On average, one window unit will require between 500 and 1,400 watts of electricity per hour of use. The specific amount of electricity depends on the size of the unit, the model, and how high you have it cranked up. Alternatively, to run the average central air HVAC AC unit, you’ll be burning through somewhere around 3,500 watts per hour. So, in theory, one HVAC system will generally cost several times more to operate than one window unit. Over the course of a year or even a few months, that difference can add up to a significant chunk of change. However, there are a couple of relevant things worth considering.

If your household features multiple window units, they’ll have the potential to collectively use up more energy than an HVAC system. However, if you avoid running them simultaneously too often, your bills shouldn’t get out of hand. It’s also important to note that while central air AC units require a lot of energy, heat pumps are another type of HVAC system that is quite a bit more efficient. On average, a heat pump’s energy usage is fairly comparable to that of a large window AC unit.


If you’re a longtime homeowner, then you probably know how important maintenance is for most heating and cooling appliances. In fact, if you have an HVAC system installed, it’s strongly recommended that you never go more than a year without scheduling a professional tune-up.

In California, it’s especially important to keep up with air conditioner maintenance because it will allow the system to remain effective and efficient during the sweltering springs and summers. Professional HVAC maintenance is a pretty affordable service, but paying for it once or twice each year will add up over time.

While window AC units do require some general upkeep, they don’t typically need scheduled professional tune-ups. As long as you regularly clean or replace the air filter and conduct a thorough cleaning job, your window unit should be able to keep running smoothly.


One of the advantages of window AC units being so affordable is that if yours dies on you, it doesn’t cost too much to replace it. In the same vein, if your window unit has a serious mechanical failure that requires a major, expensive repair, you’ll have the option of simply replacing the unit instead. That’s an option that you won’t typically have with an HVAC system.

For example, you might have a $5,000 central air system that requires a $1,000 repair job. While $1,000 is a lot of money, you’d probably rather pay that than spend several thousand for a new AC unit. However, if your $500 window unit needs a $1,000 repair, the solution will be a no-brainer.

It’s also worth noting that equipment repairs for a window unit will be much cheaper on average than for an HVAC system. This means that over the course of an appliance’s entire lifespan, you could potentially save several thousand dollars on repairs by having a window unit.


Indoor air quality is important, and when it comes to filtration ability, not all AC units are created equal. If you or anyone in your family suffers from asthma or allergies, you’ll probably be better off with an HVAC system than a window unit. While window AC units are adequate at filtering contaminants out of the air, they simply can’t compare to HVAC units. However, this advantage could change over the next few years as window units are steadily improving when it comes to filtration. At least for now, though, HVAC systems are the clear winners in that category.

Since 2010, our team at 4 Points A/C & Heating has been a trusted name in home comfort services for the greater San Bernardino area. Our family-owned and -operated company is dedicated to handling all of your heating and cooling needs, from repairs to installations, all year long.

We know how hot the summers get in California, and when those scorching temperatures arrive, you can count on us to keep your home comfortable. We provide free estimates, 24/7 emergency service, and affordable prices. Another thing we care deeply about is giving back to our local community, which is why we’re involved with the American Cancer Society. When you’re ready to schedule an appointment with our skilled team, just reach out to our offices at 4 Points A/C & Heating.