Is an air conditioner necessary in Oregon? The cost for a new air conditioner starts at about $3,000 and goes up depending on the size of your home and the type of system. You can make a good decision about home air conditioning by considering your climate, your home, and your family’s ability to cope with uncomfortable heat.
As a Home Advisor with the non-profit Enhabit, I’m here to answer your questions about home cooling. At the bottom of this post, I’ll let you know how to set up a no-cost phone consultation with me or one of my fellow Home Advisors
Consideration #1: Know your climate
Oregon temperatures vary widely, but the overall trend is toward hotter summers, with record-breaking heat in Oregon in 2015* and globally in 2016.**
Generally, the closer you are to the coast, where the ocean moderates temperature, the milder your summer high temperatures. Eastern and southern parts of Oregon see consistently warmer weather in summer months.
In much of western Oregon, including the Willamette Valley and the Portland metro area, relatively mild summer temperatures are sometimes interrupted by heat waves like the record-breaking 3-day span in August 2016.***
Portland has a heat island effect that makes it hotter than nearby areas. The concentration of buildings and streets increases city temperatures an average of 4.8 degrees higher than surrounding rural areas.****
If you live in one of the hotter regions like Jackson County, you’ll likely already have air conditioning or other ways to cope with extreme hot weather. If you already have air conditioning, your best bet is to keep your system operating as efficiently as possible, and consider other energy saving measures for your home.
Oregon average summer high and low temperatures
|June||74 °||54 °|
|July||81 °||58 °|
|Aug||81 °||58 °|
|Sept||76 °||53 °|
|June||73 °||48 v|
|July||82 °||52 °|
|Aug||83 °||51 °|
|Sept||77 °||47 °|
|June||64 °||50 °|
|July||67 °||53 °|
|Aug||69 °||53 °|
|Sept||68 °||49 °|
|June||72 °||42 °|
|July||82 °||48 °|
|Aug||81 °||46 °|
|Sept||74 °||40 °|
|June||82 °||52 °|
|July||91 °||57 °|
|Aug||91 °||57 °|
|Sept||84 °||50 °|
Consideration #2: Understand your home factors
Your home’s configuration, construction, energy efficiency and position relative to structures and trees can be big factors in summer comfort.
An uninsulated wood-frame house in an open lot that receives full sun all day can really heat up, while a similar house with good insulation and large shady trees will stay noticeably cooler.
In some cases it could help to plant trees and add energy efficiency measures like air sealing and insulation, ventilation and new windows; either before or during a cooling system installation. In any case, efficiency upgrades will help your home stay more comfortable during extremes in summer and winter.
Sometimes just opening up the windows at night and closing them in the day can make a difference. See our post with tips for beating the heat without air conditioning.
Consideration #3: Determine your family’s tolerance for heat
It’s tempting to make decisions based on memories of discomfort for a few days last summer. In many areas, even the hottest days cool off significantly at night.
Families with young children or elderly relatives may consider potential health impacts of the hottest days reason enough to install air conditioning.
Some families just don’t like feeling hot at home and may use air conditioning for weeks at a time. The answer will be different for every household.
**Oregonlive.com January 18, 2017 “2016 was the hottest year on record“
***Oregonlive.com August 20, 2016 “Portland breaks heat records three days in a row“
****Climatecentral.org report “Hot and Getting Hotter: Heat Islands Cooking U.S. Cities”