Air conditioners are essential equipment within most households. They circulate cool air throughout the house to maintain a comfortable temperature in hot months. The question that lingers in many people’s minds anytime they think of installing an AC is the energy consumption of the unit. Getting an idea of how much power an AC uses under normal conditions will help you plan your budget. Here is a detailed piece to guide you through.
The power consumption varies depending on various factors. On average, a central air conditioner unit can use approximately 3,000 watts per hour during warmer days. When you run your air conditioner at a fan-only mode, it consumes around 750 watts each hour. Large, portable AC units can consume about 4,100 watts hourly, while mid-sized air conditioners use around 2,900 watts each hour. A large window AC uses up to 1,440 watts, a medium one uses 900 watts, and a small model uses about 500 watts.
You can calculate the energy consumption level of an AC by using the information on the label. Check the energy-saving label for the annual power consumption rate of the system. Mostly, this information is usually presented in the form of kilowatts. Keep in mind that 1 kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts. If a unit consumes 60 watts hourly and runs for 60 hours, then the energy consumption rate will be 60 watts x 60 hours to equal 3,600 watts per hour, which is equal to 3.6 kWh, kilowatt-hours of electricity. You will also need to determine your AC’s operational hours. Most ACs run for approximately 1,600 hours annually, which is 4.4 hours daily and 132 hours monthly. However, this value will vary from one household to another.
Ensure that you also know the electricity tariff, how much your providers charge for one kWh of electricity. If you have a 3,500-watt unit that you run for about 4.4 hours daily, you would multiply the figures to determine the energy consumption. The AC consumes 3,500 x 4.4, which equals 15,400 watt-hour, which is 15.4kWh. It’s worth noting that air conditioners don’t run continuously for hours. Therefore, calculating the wattage per hour will give you an artificially high number. Most units will run on a cycle of 15 minutes twice per hour. So, the actual power consumption is half the figure, 15.4 divided by 2, which is 7.7kWh. Multiply the answer with the electricity price, let’s say $0.10, so your daily cost will be $0.77.
There are various reasons why some air conditioners consume more power than others. An older model uses more electricity than those utilizing modern technology. Also, if you haven’t serviced your unit for a long time, it’s likely to use up more energy to maintain the required temperature in your house.
The air conditioners’ capacity determines energy consumption. The bigger the unit, the greater the cooling requirements and the higher the AC energy consumption. British thermal units, BTUs measure an AC’s capacity. On average, you will need 20 BTUs for each square footage.
Additionally, the type of unit you use will influence the amount of energy consumed. Ducted air conditioning units use more power than split systems. The brand also affects energy consumption. Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, SEER, will give you a clearer view of your unit’s energy efficiency rate. The higher the SEER, the more energy-efficient your AC is. A highly efficient system won’t need a lot of electricity to function appropriately. A standard AC should have around a 13 to 14 SEER rating. You can still find models with a SEER rating as high as 25.
The temperature in your region will also affect the energy consumption of an AC. It takes more power to cool a room if the outside temperature is too high. If you reside in hotter areas, you will need a more powerful air conditioner, which translates to high power use.
Another factor affecting your AC power consumption is the number of people in the house. Typically, the human body emits a lot of heat. If there are more people in a home, the house will need a bigger AC, which means more power than a house with fewer occupants. Additionally, electrical appliances in your house generate heat, increasing the indoor temperature. Thus, your AC will have to work harder to cool the same air volume, translating to higher power consumption.
There are several ways you can lower your AC’s watt usage. First, if you have an older unit, have it replaced with a highly efficient model. Close your windows and doors during the hot summer months to restrict the sun rays that can make your home unnecessarily hot. Your AC will have to work harder to ensure adequate cooling, which results in high energy consumption.
The temperature settings and how long your unit runs will also affect energy consumption. Most homeowners cool their houses below a temperature deemed necessary. Setting your AC around 72 to 75 degrees will keep your rooms comfortable to avoid overcooling. Ensure that the unit setting isn’t more than 8 degrees lower than the outdoor temperature.
Avoid running the AC continuously. Turn it off in the evenings or while going to bed and switch off heat dissipating equipment when not in use to save energy. Also, ensure that you insulate your home adequately to prevent conditioned air from seeping out of cracks.
If there are cabinets in your house, always keep them closed. When opened, they increase the volume of air that your AC should cool, resulting in unnecessary power consumption. Clean or replace your AC filters often. A clogged filter restricts airflow, which strains the unit, leading to higher energy consumption.
Plan for annual AC maintenance. Have an expert check for refrigerant leaks, clogged coils, and a faulty compressor, which can affect your unit’s efficiency. Ensure also that you choose an AC that is right for your house size. If you buy an undersized system, it will have to work extremely hard to meet your cooling needs. An oversized unit will cool your home faster, but it results in higher energy consumption due to the increased capacity.
Although some people might feel that running an AC is quite expensive, there are various efficient models in the market today that don’t consume as much power as older AC units. It’s a worthy investment, especially for people living in scorching areas since air conditioning makes the temperatures more bearable. Before buying an AC, it’s a good idea to first talk with a professional. They will assess your cooling needs to help you choose a suitable unit. It’s best to leave the installation task to a professional to ensure that the AC runs at optimum capacity.
Should you need professional assistance with your AC, you can always reach out to Bardi Heating, Cooling, & Plumbing. We deal with AC and heating system installation, repair, and maintenance. We also offer drain cleaning, pipe replacements, leak detection, and water heater services in Norcross, GA, and the surrounding areas. Call us now to book an appointment and try out our services.