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Once the peak of the summer season arrives, air conditioner use in our houses will become excessive as temperatures continue to rise. Using air conditioning systems can help us keep our house cool during hot and humid weather.
However, along with their cooling benefits, exorbitant air conditioner use can result in significant electricity usage and ultimately leave you with a higher bill.
If you’re curious about how much power your own air conditioner uses and why your electricity bill amounts to that, you’re in the right place.
When measuring an air conditioner’s power consumption, it’s essential to understand the fundamentals. Electricity or power consumption is typically quantified in Amps, Volts, and Watts.
However, what truly matters for your monthly bill is the “Electrical Energy” usage, measured in “kWh” or kilowatt-hour. Amps and volts do not count towards air conditioner use operating costs.
To gauge your air conditioner’s kWh consumption accurately, you can check its power rating in its label or user manual or measure it using a meter.
If you plan on using a meter, here’s how you can do it:
To measure kilowatt-hours accurately, track how long your air conditioner operates. You can do this manually by noting start and stop times or using a timer or smart plug for automatic tracking.
Ensure you have an electricity usage meter that accurately measures your air conditioning unit’s power consumption. Some meters can be connected directly to the air conditioners’ power cord, while others can be plugged into a nearby electrical outlet.
To get an accurate measurement, ensure that no other electrical appliances or devices are running on the same circuit while you measure the air conditioners’ energy consumption.
Connect your meter to the AC’s power cord or directly into the outlet, following the instructions provided in the manual.
Follow the instructions provided with the meter to set it up properly. Typically, this involves selecting the appropriate units (watts or kilowatts) and starting the measurement.
You now run your air conditioner as usual. Let it run for a sufficient period to get an accurate reading, such as an hour or more. The meter will indicate the electricity the AC consumes in either watts or kilowatts. Make sure to take note of this reading.
However, suppose you choose to utilize the manual power rating, which represents the electricity usage when the air conditioner operates at full capacity. In that case, you can skip the process above and proceed with the calculation below.
To find the total consumption using a meter, multiply the reading on the meter by the number of hours the air conditioner was running. If you used the label or user manual, multiply the watts indicated by the hours of usage.
This will give you the energy usage in watt-hours (Wh) or kilowatt-hours (kWh), the standard unit of measurement for electricity usage.
Total Consumption (kWh) = Meter Reading (kW) x Hours of Operation
For example, if your AC consumes 1,000 Watts (1 kW) and runs for 8 hours a day, the daily usage is 1 kW x 8 hours = 8 kWh.
Now that you have accurately measured your air conditioner’s consumption for the specified time, you can leverage this data to estimate its monthly or yearly energy costs, considering your usage patterns.
However, it’s vital to acknowledge several factors for precision when measuring your air conditioner’s kWh usage. Seasonal variations have a substantial impact, as the unit tends to run more frequently during the hot summer months and less during colder seasons.
To ensure precise measurements, consider variables such as the air conditioner’s efficiency, denoted by Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) ratings, thermostat adjustments, and external factors like outdoor temperature.
The amount of electricity an AC consumes per hour depends on several factors, including the size and capacity of the unit, British Thermal Units (BTU) or Tons, its efficiency rating, the duration of usage, the insulation, the set temperature, and the local climate.
BTU is a unit of measurement used to quantify the amount of heat energy an air conditioner can remove from a room or space per hour. In the context of air conditioning, a BTU is used to express the cooling capacity of an air conditioner unit, indicating how much cold air it can deliver into the room to lower the temperature effectively.
Here, we’ll talk about the estimated kWh consumption and electricity usage of air conditioners based on BTU, air conditioner size, and type (window, portable, split, or central air conditioner).
A window air conditioner is a small and compact unit that fits on a window or a wall; it can cool approximately 100-700 sqft of space.
Regarding energy consumption, small window air conditioners (5,000-6,000 BTU) generally use about 0.4-0.7 kWh per hour.
Medium-sized window AC units (8,000-12,000 BTU) typically consume approximately 0.65-1.1 kWh per hour, while larger window units (15,000-24,000 BTU) require around 1.25-1.8 kWh per hour.
When it comes to portable air conditioners, small portable units (8,000-10,000 BTU) generally consume 0.65-0.9 kWh per hour.
Medium-sized portable AC units (12,000-13,500 BTU) consume around 1-1.1 kWh per hour, while larger mobile units (15,000-18,000 BTU) typically require about 1.25-1.5 kWh per hour to operate effectively. Portable ACs can cool 250-900 sqft of space.
Central air conditioners are a great way to cool an ample residential or small business area. They can cool around 1,000-3,300+ sqft of space, depending on their BTU.
A small residential central air conditioner rated at 24,000 BTU uses around 1.8-2.5 kWh per hour. For a medium-sized 36,000 BTU central air conditioner, the energy consumption could be 2.8 – 3 kWh per hour.
A 48,000 BTU central AC unit may consume roughly 3.5-4 kWh per hour. Large units like a 60,000 BTU central air conditioner might require about 4.5-7.5 kWh per hour to operate efficiently.
Split-type air conditioners usually have two units, indoor and outdoor units. Most air conditioners of this type can cool around 550-1300+ of space.
Split-type air conditioners also have varying energy consumption based on their size. Generally speaking, small to medium-sized split air conditioners (ranging from 9,000 to 18,000 BTU) consume around .9 – 1.50 kWh per hour.
In contrast, larger units like a 24,000 BTU air conditioner (24,000 BTU and above) use roughly 1.8 kWh per hour or more, with the exact consumption depending on their capacity and efficiency characteristics.
Please note those mentioned previously are approximate figures; how much energy an air conditioner uses can vary depending on the unit’s energy efficiency, the desired temperature settings, the size of the cooled space, and the local climate conditions.
To precisely measure your air conditioner’s energy usage, refer to the manufacturer’s specifications or use a power meter to monitor its consumption.
Checking the air conditioning units’ EER or SEER is essential for a more precise estimate. These ratings indicate how efficiently an aircon converts electrical energy into cooling output.
A higher EER or SEER rating means that the air conditioner uses less electricity for the same amount of cooling.
A unit with a high EER or SEER can use around 0.5 to 0.7 kWh, while less efficient units might consume closer to 1 kilowatt hour or more.
To calculate the daily energy consumption of an aircon, you can multiply its hourly energy usage (in kWh) by the number of hours it operates each day. For instance, if a small window AC unit uses 1 kWh per hour and runs for 8 hours, it would consume 8 kWh daily. Larger units like a central air conditioner or those running longer will have higher daily energy consumption.
Air conditioners are vital in maintaining indoor comfort, particularly in warm and humid climates. However, their energy consumption should be carefully considered to manage electricity costs and reduce environmental impact.
Opting for an efficient alternative, practicing proper maintenance, and using programmable thermostats can all contribute to lowering the energy consumption and estimated monthly cost of air conditioning systems.
As electricity prices and technologies evolve, staying informed about energy-efficient cooling solutions is essential for consumers and the planet.
Electricity rates vary by location and can significantly impact the cost of running an aircon. As of March 2023, the exact average electricity rate in Metro Manila, Philippines, is P11.4348 per kWh, as mandated by Meralco.
We have provided the following chart to estimate the monthly electric bill resulting from an air conditioner’s usage. This chart includes information on the air conditioner’s type, size, estimated kilowatt-hour consumption, and the expected electricity bill when operated for 8 hours per day for 30 days.
|Estimated kWh usage
|Estimated electricity bill per hour
|Estimated AC electricity bill monthly
|Small (5,000+ BTU)
|₱ 4.6 +
|₱ 1,104 +
|Medium (8,000+ BTU)
|₱ 7.4 +
|₱ 1,776 +
|Large (15,000+ BTU)
|₱ 14.3 +
|₱ 3,432 +
|Small (8,000+ BTU)
|₱ 7.4 +
|₱ 1,776 +
|Medium (12,000+ BTU)
|₱ 11.4 +
|₱ 2,736 +
|Large (15,000+ BTU)
|₱ 14.3 +
|₱ 3,432 +
|Small (24,000+ BTU)
|₱ 20.6 +
|₱ 4,944 +
|Medium (36,000+ BTU)
|₱ 32 +
|₱ 7,680 +
|Large (48,000+ BTU)
|₱ 40 +
|₱ 9,600 +
|Extra large (60,000+ BTU)
|₱ 51.5 +
|₱ 12,360 +
|Small (10,000+ BTU)
|₱ 10.3 +
|₱ 2,472 +
|Medium (18,000+ BTU)
|₱ 17.2 +
|₱ 4,128 +
|Large (24,000+ BTU)
|₱ 20.6 +
|₱ 4,944 +
The chart above shows air conditioners’ hourly and monthly energy consumption estimates based on their capacity only.
For pinpoint accuracy, you must consider various factors, including the BEE star rating, SEER, EER, seasonal variations (summer or cold season), and whether it’s an inverter unit. We’ve used this simplified chart for ease of computation.
Consulting with a technician or considering a DIY calculation is advisable for precise results.
There are several strategies you can employ to decrease the power consumption of your air conditioner:
Air conditioners use more electricity during the summer. It’s best to raise your thermostat to a temperature that still keeps you comfortable but is a few degrees higher than your usual setting.
Similarly, lower it to a cooler but still comfortable temperature during the colder seasons. Even a slight adjustment can lead to energy savings.
For less power consumption, use a timer or smart thermostat to ensure your AC unit operates only when needed. You can set it to turn off when you’re not at home or during the night when outdoor temperatures are cooler.
Some air conditioners use programmable thermostats that allow you to create temperature schedules that align with your daily routine.
For example, you can program them to raise the temperature when you’re at work and lower it before you return home, optimizing energy use when you don’t need cooling or heating. Proper usage of thermostats will lead to less monthly energy usage, thus lowering their cost to run.
Dirty or clogged filters restrict airflow, making your AC work harder and consume more power. Clean or replace filters as the manufacturer recommends, and schedule regular maintenance to ensure your system operates efficiently.
Gaps, cracks, and poor insulation allow cool air to escape and warm air to enter, causing your AC to run longer. Properly seal and insulate your home to maintain a more stable indoor temperature.
Well-insulated homes are more energy-efficient and maintain colder temperatures. Leaving leaks and gaps will lead to a higher monthly cost to run an AC.
When it’s time to replace your AC unit, look for models with a high SEER rating. Higher SEER ratings indicate efficient power and can lead to less energy consumption and significant long-term savings on your energy bills.
Ceiling fans create air movement, making you feel cooler at a higher thermostat setting. Remember to turn off fans when you leave the room to save energy.
Use exhaust fans in hot areas (like the kitchen and bathroom) to remove heat and humidity. Attic ventilation can help reduce heat buildup in your home, especially during the summer months.
Blocking out direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day helps prevent your home from heating up, reducing the need for air conditioning. Conversely, open curtains during cooler hours to let in natural light.
Cooking with stoves and ovens generates heat. Try to cook during cooler times of the day or use alternative cooking methods like microwave ovens, slow cookers, or outdoor grills. Unplug chargers and electronics when not in use to prevent “phantom” power consumption.
Replace incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient LED or CFL bulbs that produce less heat. This not only saves energy but also helps keep your home cooler.
Setting up solar panels proves advantageous for power conservation and effectiveness by capturing solar energy to produce electricity, thus diminishing dependence on fossil fuels and decreasing energy expenses.
Providing shade for the outdoor air conditioner unit can help it operate more efficiently because it doesn’t have to work as hard to cool the refrigerant. Ensure the shade doesn’t obstruct airflow around the unit.
High indoor humidity can make you uncomfortable, leading to lower thermostat settings. Use a dehumidifier to maintain optimal indoor humidity levels, allowing you to set the thermostat a bit higher while still feeling cool.
By implementing these strategies, you can create a more energy-efficient and comfortable living environment while reducing your air conditioner’s power consumption and saving energy bills.
Air conditioners are essential in maintaining our comfort during hot weather, but they come with hefty electric bill costs.
Understanding how much electricity it costs to run an air conditioner can help you make informed decisions about usage and efficiency.