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Old 01-29-2009, 02:24 PM
 
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Hello - I apologize right off the bat for my ignorance in this area, but I am coming from Los Angeles where central heat/air is the norm and even those don't get used much. How exactly does it work to have individual heating/cooling units in each room? Are they either on or off, or is there some way to regulate the temp and maintain a certain temp at all times? What happens overnight?

Any insight would be appreciated. We are actively looking in several Westchester towns and unless the home was built or renovated in the last 10 years, radiators & window units seem to be the norm. Just wondering how that works as a practical matter.

Thanks much!
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Old 01-29-2009, 03:35 PM
 
Location: Washington, DC & New York
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If you're looking at a house that is relatively new, for Westchester (i.e., not north of 150 years), that do not have central air/forced hot air systems, most that have radiators have electric baseboard. They pump hot water through copper tubing that heats up elements in the radiators, but they are zoned. Generally, you do not have control over individual rooms with this sytem, so you set a central thermostat and it cycles hot water to meet the temperature requirement.

Window A/C is not too bad, but always err on the side of a larger unit than the recommendation of btus for the room. And, be sure that you have a selectable temperature with them as the modern units allow you to set a temperature and it cycles on/off to keep the desired temperature. Some people turn off the units when they are out for extended periods, but it does make the house hot. And, you have to be sure that it sits in the window or the wall opening properly to keep the cool air in and the bugs out. In large spaces, a ceiling fan can be useful to regulate the window unit, so that you do not get hot/cold zones.

Depeding upon the size/style house you get, you can retrofit a central air system into many houses without metal ductwork. Basically, they have small air ducts that are usually in ceilings that are fished through walls or attic spaces. It is not as expensive nor as destructive as metal ductwork, generally, and it works on a separate system, so you do not need to convert to a forced hot air heating system. Generally, in a multi-level house, this is accomplished by taking parts of closets to conceal the ductwork to the first floor, and through the attic to the second floor. Given that you will have to spend a good amount of money on air conditioners, it might make sense to investigate the possibility of retrofitting central air, since an 8 room house could run over $2k for window units that then have to be stored during the off season, which do not cool areas without windows.
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Old 01-29-2009, 04:34 PM
 
395 posts, read 1,520,870 times
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bmwguydc - enormously helpful. Thank you!!
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Old 02-03-2009, 02:10 PM
 
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central air conditioning is definitely the best way to go
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Old 02-04-2009, 03:03 PM
 
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Default though central heat....

Has it's issues.

I've never had it before, but it's a different type of heat: very dry and doesn't seem to last. Now I run a humidifier every night in order to maintain mositure.

Honestly, I prefer window units (though they block the sun) and radiators.
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