As of 2015, window air conditioners generally cost under $1,000, typically ranging between $200 and $500. By contrast, central air conditioner installation costs anywhere between $4,000 to over $10,000 depending on whether or not the home already has the proper setup.
Window air conditioners are also less expensive to operate because they cool only one room at a time. Central air cools the entire home. Although central air conditioning is more expensive at the outset, it requires less maintenance and is less expensive in the long run. Programmable thermostats also help decrease the operating costs of central air conditioning. Some factors to consider when analyzing costs include how many rooms need cooling and whether the home is a rental.