Although my house is equipped with a forced air furnace and complete duct system, I’ve never bothered with air conditioning. I live in the northeastern part of the country, where the winter is the longest season of the year. The heating system is definitely the priority, and I spend a fortune on energy bills. I look forward to shutting off the furnace, opening the windows, and minimizing my expenses. However, the summers tend to be excessively hot and humid. Leaving the windows open invites in pollen, dust, exhaust fumes, exterior noise pollution and bugs. There’s also a safety risk. When it rains, I’m forced to shut the windows and go without any influx of air. Running a bunch of electric fans is simply not enough to combat the heat and that clammy feeling. I’ve installed a portable air conditioner into my bedroom window, but it’s loud, ugly and not energy efficient. I certainly don’t want to buy a portable air conditioner for every room in the house. I’ve decided I want a whole-home cooling system, and I’ve been researching the different options. Modern air conditioners now achieve up to a 26 SEER, making them exceptionally energy efficient. Although the better models cost more, they pay for themselves in lower running costs. Since I already have the duct system in place, I’m hoping to afford a top-of-the-line model with a variable-speed compressor. Variable-speed technology allows the cooling equipment to provide only the exact amount of cool air necessary. It can run at speeds between 40 and 100% capacity to optimize sound levels, comfort and energy efficiency.