Why Do Air Conditioners Use So much Electricity? How to Reduce Consumption?

Summertime always comes with the heat in most parts of the world. Those who live in swampy and coastal areas also have to deal with very hot temperatures. For so many years, air conditioners have been the solution to conditioning the indoor air for comfort and good health.

While this is a great relief, there are concerns in many quarters that air conditioners tend to use up a lot of energy. Truth is, there are different types of air conditioners and each has a different wattage.

For those who live in very warm regions of the world, they’ll tell you that they experience a surge in power bills during the hottest seasons of the year.

This may be connected to increased AC usage and a corresponding increase in energy consumption. But one question persists; why do air conditioners use so much electricity?

Why do air conditioners use so much electricity?

It will be easy to answer this question by explaining how an air conditioner uses power.

One may be tempted to say an AC works like a refrigerator, but it will be unfair to compare the confined space of the fridge with the entire room the AC is meant to cool.

When you open up the AC, you’ll find condenser and evaporator coils, through which the compressor continues to pump refrigerant which then evaporates through the evaporator coil.

It is this process that pulls heat from your room, while the refrigerant is pumped back in the compressor and turns to liquid which expels the heat.

There is also a blower that pulls warm air from the room into the AC system and cool air into the room.

All of these processes are energy-consuming and would require significant amounts of power.

But it is also important to emphasize that each AC type requires different power levels to work. We’ll attempt to provide a simple map for AC capacity and energy consumption.

Measuring AC Capacity versus Electricity Consumption

1. Split Air Conditioners

5-Star Split ACAC CapacityEnergy Use (Per Hour)
 1 ton AC984 watts (0.98kW)
 1.5 ton AC1,490 watts (1.49kW)
 2 ton AC1,730 watts (1.73kW)
3-Star Split ACAC CapacityEnergy Use (Per Hour)
 1 ton AC1,090 watts (1.09kW)
 1.5 ton AC1,560 watts (1.56kW)
 2 ton AC1,930 watts (1.93kW)
2-Star Split ACAC CapacityEnergy Use (Per Hour)
 1 ton AC1,150 watts (1.15kW)
 1.5 ton AC1,700 watts (1.7kW)
 2 ton AC2,210 watts (2.21kW)

2. Window Air Conditioners

3-Star Window ACAC CapacityEnergy Use (Per Hour)
 1 ton AC1.15 kW
 1.5 ton AC1.67 kW
2-Star Window ACAC CapacityEnergy Use (Per Hour)
 1 ton AC1.25 kW
 1.5 ton AC1.74 kW

The Star rating for air conditioners have to do with energy efficiency. 5-star rated air conditioners are more energy efficient than 3-star and 2-star ACs.

This means lower star-rated ACs use up more energy than the higher star-rated ones.

Beyond this, there are several other factors that can determine how much you spend on electricity bills for your air conditioner, and this includes how long you leave it on each day. Others are;

Factors that affect AC Power Consumption

1. Indoor and outdoor temperature

The hotter the outdoor temperature, the warmer it is indoor. And it will take more power and time to cool a room if the outdoor temperature is 45° Celsius, than if it is somewhere around 30° Celsius.

2. Volume of room air

The volume of air in your room is also determined by a number of factors, like whether or not your closets, cupboards and cabinets are shut or open.

If you leave them open, you’re increasing the amount of air and space that need cooling by your AC. This also significantly affects AC power consumption.

3. Room size

You probably already know this. Each air conditioner is designed for a specific room size. An AC designed for a 252 sq ft room will do much better cooling a 200 sq ft room than a 280 sq ft room. The larger the room, the more work your AC has to do, and the more energy it expends.

4. People and objects

The human body releases heat by default. If you have many people in a room, it’ll be more difficult for your AC to cool the room than if you had just a few people.

The same thing applies to objects because the AC tends to cool them unnecessarily.

How to reduce the power consumption of the air conditioner?

Energy cost can be very overwhelming, and chances are that your AC takes up a lot of that cost. If you desire cutting down on AC power consumption, here are a few tips to consider;

1. Take it up a few degrees

Leaving your AC at 16° C will lead it to use up more power in the process. Rather, to be energy efficient, you need to set it a bit higher, like 21° C, for instance.

With this, you get the comfortable climate you desire and save a lot of cost as well.

2. Insulate the space

You should look out for openings or leaks in your room and seal them off. Allowing cool air to escape out of the room will have an impact on your unit and make it run for much longer than it should.

3. Use a thermostat and timer

Most times, you may not be at home to turn off the AC. And even if you were, you could be taking a nap.

A smart timer will ensure it auto shuts down after a specified time of operation. This is another great energy-efficient measure.

4. Maintain regularly

Frequent maintenance is another very effective way to cut down on AC power cost.

When you have gas leaks, clogged vents, or dirty filters, you may experience poor cooling performance and your AC is forced to use up more power.

Maintaining your unit regularly is one way to check this problem.

5. Change the air filters

Dust and other particles may get into your unit and cling to the filter. These particles can gather up and get to the fans and motors which can cause your unit to slow down, run much longer and use up more energy.

Is it cheaper to run a window air conditioner or central air?

The answer would be Yes and No. A post by Christian Science Monitor reveals that more than $22 Billion is spent annually on air conditioning in America.

The goal of everyone is to reduce cost as much as possible, and when it comes to air conditioning, people always ask if it is cheaper to run a window air conditioner or a central AC. Let’s dig deep into this subject.

1. Initial Cost

When it comes to initial capital, the window air conditioner certainly has the advantage. It is a lot cheaper than central units and can be afforded by most households.

A typical unit ranges from $250 to $500, depending on the capacity and features. A central AC unit, on the other hand, will cost between $3,000 and $8,000, depending on the capacity and region.

2. Maintenance

Another reason why window units may be cheaper to run is in its maintenance.

Most times, all you’ll require is a filter replacement, fan unclogging, cleaning and so on. For a central air conditioning unit, it costs a whole lot more.

3. Control

A window air conditioner will give you control to use it only in the room where cooling is required at every point in time.

That is, each room has its own window unit and you can turn anyone on to cater for the room that needs cooling and leave the others off.

This can conserve energy, unlike a central unit that cools the entire house each time it comes on.

On the other hand, Central ACs do not require multiple units.

What this means is that rather than have 6 different units consuming energy simultaneously, it may be cheaper to simply run a central unit.

What temperature should AC be set to save energy?

According to the United States Department of Energy, you should keep your AC set at 26° Celsius whenever you’re at home.

This temperature is convenient, providing the cooling effect you need and conserving energy as well.

Most Energy-efficient Portable Air Conditioners: Top 3 Recommendations

1. MIDEA MAP08R1CWT 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner [Best Price]

Midea stormed the market with this amazing entry a few years ago, taking its spot as one of the most energy-efficient portable air conditioner manufacturers.

This 3-in-1 air conditioner delivers fast and very effective cooling in rooms up to 150 sq ft. At 8,000 BTU, this air conditioner is very energy efficient, it has a rated voltage of 115V and 8 Amps.

It is also a great dehumidifier, helping you control the moisture content in your home. What’s more, this portable unit is easily moved and transported.

2. BLACK+DECKER BPACT10WT Portable Air Conditioner [Best Features]

This superb entry is known for many things, including its competitive features that make it the ideal home appliance for everyone.

Apart from its ergonomic and convenient remote control, 24-hour timer, roof-mounted LED display, washable filter, and bucket-less evaporating operation, this Black Decker portable unit is highly energy efficient.

It uses up to 1,150 watts and has a voltage of 115V. All of these combine to give you comfort and leisure in rooms as large as 250 sq ft.

3. SereneLife Portable Electric Air Conditioner Unit [Value for Money]

This is another energy-efficient portable AC unit with 12,000 BTU.

It requires 1,150 Watts to function and has all the flexibility you need to save even much more energy when in use.

It functions as a 3-in-1 unit and works as a fan, dehumidifier and cooler, each deployed when they are needed.

This portable appliance comes with a functional remote control, but also has a touch control mechanism for added maneuverability. There is also a 24-hour timer function for added control.

Top 3 Energy Efficient Split Air Conditioners

1. Della 12000 BTU Mini Split Air Conditioner [Value for Money]

This ductless inverter system is a market favorite among homeowners in the United States.

The 12000 BTU performance makes it a truly efficient air conditioner.

It comes with a 1-ton heat pump and a pre-charged condenser for ready-to-use installation.

When it comes to energy efficiency, this unit ranks quite high. At 115V/17 SEER, the inverter technology ensures that only the power needed per time is generated, saving you a lot of energy cost.

The unit offers more than just cooling, with heating, humidification and ventilation as parts of its functions.

The Follow-Me remote control detects indoor temperature and automatically adjusts the cooling or heating rate to suit the need of the room at every point in time.

2. Pioneer Air Conditioner WYS030G-17 [Best Features]

As a ductless mini-split inverter system, this product ranks high in energy efficiency, scoring 18 in Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) and 9.6 in HSPF.

It combines the inverter with a heat pump system, offering great cooling and heating action all year round.

It has a cooling capacity of 30,000 BTU and a heating capacity of 19,000 BTU per hour at 17° F. It features a reusable, washable filter that is easy to remove, clean and reinstall.

Despite all of these, you’ll enjoy efficient energy consumption each passing year.

3. Senville LETO Series Mini Split Air Conditioner [Best Price]

This LETO Air Conditioner from Senville is a top-ranked product in several reviews and for good reason.

Not only is it cost-effective in initial investment, but it also saves you substantial financial burden in energy consumption.

With a 17 SEER ranking and voltage at 270V, this unit is designed for the harshest regions.

It is great for cooling, dehumidifying, heating and fan function. The unit is also very quiet in operation, measured at 32dB.

What’s more, you can enjoy 24,000 BTU, convenient remote operation, complete installation kit and 5-year manufacturer warranty all for an affordable price and low energy cost.

Most Energy Efficient Window Air Conditioners: Top 3 Picks

1. TOSOT 8,000 BTU Window Air Conditioner [Value for Money]

This TOSOT 8,000 BTU window air conditioner comes fully equipped with everything you need to enjoy cool air whenever you desire.

Although powerful, it is easy on power consumption at 115kW.

At 115 Volts, this unit has enough power to cool an area up to 350 sq feet.

Whilst it is a powerful unit, this appliance saves you a lot of money on energy bills. It is sleek and minimalistic in design and fits perfectly into your window.

The thermostat is included on the remote, so cooling is set automatically based on the temperature your remote is receiving.

2. MIDEA EasyCool 8,000 BTU Window Air Conditioner [Best Price]

This is another functional energy-efficient window air conditioner.

In fact, it is one of the most energy-saving air conditioner units on the market, taking up only 667 watts of electricity.

All you may need is about 4 hours of operation.

The unit also functions as a dehumidifier and fan, depending on what your indoor climate is at every point in time.

It has a coverage capacity of 350 sq feet. The powerful remote control is ergonomic and very flexible. It is intuitive and features a LED display panel which makes manipulation easy and convenient.

3. Frigidaire FFRE083ZA1 19″ Energy Star Window Air Conditioner [Best Features]

Frigidaire remains one of the earliest and most enduring brands as far as air conditioners are concerned.

It has grown, over the years, in performance, effectiveness and technology.

If there is one thing the brand has maintained in all these years, it is its impressive energy-efficient technology.

With 8,000 BTU cooling capacity, this unit has a wattage of around 1,000 watts and several energy-saving features that make it a top choice within and outside the US. It can cover rooms up to 350 sq feet.

The unit has a remote control, LED digital display for manual and remote control, and a design that makes it very easy to mount.

Final Words:

The next time you shop for an air conditioner, be mindful of energy consumption and the financial burden that such a unit would place on you in the long run.

To save cost, you should try fixing a schedule for AC run time (4 hours every day is recommended for best results), but you can even get more value if you look out for an energy-efficient product.