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Mini split air conditioner in living room iStock

From cooling your home in the spring and summer to storing your window and portable units in the cooler months, we’ve compiled our favorite air conditioning tips.

1. Get Ideas from the Pros

Ah, the sweet relief of a cool, dry house after a hot, sweaty afternoon of yard work. Like any mechanical system, AC needs a little TLC to run smoothly, including many tasks you can tackle on your own. We asked This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey to share his advice for central air and window units. Read his advice here.

2. Choosing an Air Conditioner

Room air conditioners can quickly cool a broiling bedroom, a sticky family room, and other hot spots in your house for as little as $250. Individual units put the cooling where you need it if the climate in your area does not warrant whole-house air-conditioning or if you don't want to spend $3,000 to $6,000 to have a new central air system installed. Learn how to choose the right one for your room here.

3. Add Central Air

Installing HVAC outside of home. Anthony Tieuli

Whether summers are really getting hotter or we've lost our tolerance for heat as we grow older, lots of us are tempted to yank out noisy, dripping window air conditioners and replace them with quiet, efficient whole-house central-air-conditioning systems. But we don't take the idea any further.

Those of you with forced-air furnace ducts in place worry that modifying the heating system will be costly and result in inefficiency. And if you don't have ducts, you can't imagine how they're going to be added without destroying the house and costing a bundle. But installing central air is easier and less costly than you might think. Here’s what you need to know.

4. Keep Dust Away

Richard Trethewey gives advice on maintaining a forced air system to control dust, an unfriendly bug to an otherwise comfortably cool space. Read up here.

5. Install a Portable Air Conditioner

Installing a portable air conditioner at home iStock

If you’re looking for a way to cool down your home without a central air conditioning system, a portable air conditioner might be just what you need. Check out this video to see This Old House plumbing and heating contractor Richard Trethewey explains how to get air conditioning where window units aren't practical.

6. Install a Mini Split Air Conditioner

You don’t need a full-size duct system to cool your home. In this video, This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey explains how to install a mini-split air conditioner.

7. Maintain Your Air Conditioner

Your central air unit will run trouble-free for years—if you maintain it. Find out how to keep it in tip-top shape with these tips.

8. Keep the Air Clean

Whole House Air Purifier in Living Room. iStock

That dust collecting on end tables and bookshelves is only a fraction of what's actually swimming around in the air: an invisible mix of dust mites, pollen, dander, mold, and smoke that can be annoying to breathe and hazardous to your health. Learn how to keep that air clean here.

9. Choose Ductless Air Conditioning

A ductless air conditioner, also called a mini-split system, has two major components: a unit mounted on an inside wall that delivers cool air to the room and a unit mounted on the outside of the house. Read our guide to see if it’s the right pick for you.

10. Transport an Air Conditioning Unit

Carrying it from or to the basement isn’t just challenging, it’s dangerous, partly because it can block your view of the steps. Here are a few ways to save your back—and maybe a trip to the ER.