Should You Buy a Home Without Air Conditioning?

Air conditioning used to be considered a luxury, but it is becoming essential for health and safety. As many parts of the world experience record-setting temperature highs and heat-related fatalities, air conditioning is increasingly seen as a basic human need, like heating in winter. It is estimated that home air conditioning cut premature deaths related to heat by 80% since 1960, according to the Washington Post.

Soon, a home without air conditioning could be as difficult to sell as a home without heating. When purchasing a home, make sure it has a good air conditioning system, or verify that one can be easily installed.

If you are purchasing a home that does not have air conditioning, at least verify that the amperage of the electrical system will support the added stress of running an air cooling system. If your home does not have adequate amperage, you may not be able to run basic appliances while your air is on without blowing a fuse. Whether you’re using a portable window air conditioner or a forced air system, you will need adequate electrical capacity to keep all appliances running.

Many older condominiums have a hidden problem of inadequate electrical capacity. If you’re looking at a condo built in the 1950s that has a 60 amp capacity, you may have trouble running an air conditioning system if you also use a lot of appliances. It’s not always easy to increase your amperage, since this likely will involve changing the capacity of the entire building, and getting the local electrical company to make this change could be costly. Make sure to have a professional verify that any home you plan to purchase has adequate amperage.

The Catch-22 of Air Conditioning

As summers become hotter, air conditioning becomes vital; however, widespread use of air conditioning consumes massive amounts of energy and uses toxic refrigerant. Though it may be tempting to skip air conditioning in order to decrease energy consumption, remember that excessive heat can be deadly. If air conditioning ever becomes more environmentally friendly, this will likely be the result of systemic changes, like widespread use of solar systems, geothermal systems, or changes to the way electricity is created in general.

Energy-saving Air Conditioning is Often a Luxury Item

Air conditioning is much more affordable than it used to be. However, air conditioning that uses dramatically less energy is incredibly expensive. Geothermal air conditioning systems consume much less energy, as they use the earth’s naturally cool underground temperature to chill your home. However, geothermal systems cost between $20,000-$50,000 to install, which guarantees their adoption will be limited. In the future, the cost of these systems may come down, perhaps due to government subsidies and/or more efficient production.

Hopefully, major changes will occur in advancements to geothermal systems, solar power, and other efficient technologies. For these changes to be effective, they will have to be systemically implemented, rather than relying only on people who can afford them. In the meantime, it is important to take air conditioning into account as a health and safety consideration when purchasing your home.