Salvage as much as possible from your present heating system, check insulation, shade, wiring-then find the most suitable cooling unit.
When a large five-year-old St. Louis house was air-conditioned last year the owners learned how to reduce the cost by 15% and thereby saved $325. They started out with an air-conditioning bid for $2,350. Then they called in an engineer to look over the print in the contract. But he also gave the house a once-over and even hoisted himself into the attic to look around.
Although the house was insulated the engineer advised the owners to double the attic insulation and also add outside shading devices over two large window areas. This would cost $285, he estimated. But then a smaller air-conditioning system could be used and it was later bought for only $1,740, all told.
The owners thus made a net saving of $325. Since the smaller cooling system consumes less electricity to keep the house at 75° during summer, operating costs are also lower and extra savings mount up every year.
This St. Louis story shows that it really pays to insulate thoroughly and shade an existing house