Question: Our house doesn't have central air conditioning and the recent heat wave has made us painfully aware of it, especially for a person that is confined to a wheelchair. It would be too costly to install central air conditioning and I don't like the look of through-the-window units. Do you have any suggestions
Answer: Contractor Manuel Delgado, 1125 S. Masselin Ave. in the Wilshire District of Los Angeles is doing more and more through-the-wall air conditioner installations. He cuts an opening in the wall about eight inches above the floor, between the floor and the window sill; all that shows inside is the grill and top-mounted controls. The cost is about $500-$600 for labor and materials for a 150-square-foot room, the size of many bedrooms and dens. A typical living room could cost about $1,000, but this is still well below the $6,000-$7,000 that central air might cost in a home that lacks forced-air ducts.
Today's room air conditioners, like other major electrical appliances, are far more energy efficient than ones only a few years old, Delgado said, so air conditioning a room or two might be the most economical approach for many people who never thought they would need air conditioning. He has done as many as three rooms in one house: a bedroom, a living room and a den, for instance. The low mounting position makes the controls readily accessible for a person in a wheelchair, he added.