Skip to content
Need a Renovation Cost Estimate?

How Much Does It Cost To Run An Air Conditioner?

Get your renovation costs using Renotag's renovation cost calculator:
Key Takeaways
Cost Varies by AC Type: Central air conditioning can cost between $30 to $270 per month, while window AC units range from $20 to $55.
Factors Impacting Cost: Unit size, SEER rating, utility rates, hours of usage, and the condition of the home all influence operating costs.
Comparison: Portable AC units and ductless mini-splits usually have lower monthly costs compared to central air conditioning.
Cost-Saving Tips: Regular maintenance, choosing energy-efficient models, and optimizing thermostat settings can reduce costs.

$30 – $270 Average Cost Per Month (Central Air)

The cost to run a central air conditioning system varies significantly depending on multiple factors, including the system’s efficiency and size. On average, it can range from $30 to $270 per month.

$20 – $55 Average Cost Per Month (Window AC)

Window air conditioning units are generally more economical to run compared to central air systems, with costs averaging between $20 and $55 per month.

Average Cost To Run An Air Conditioner

The cost to run an air conditioner depends largely on the type of system you have. Below is a table summarizing the average costs.

Cost To Run An AC By Type

TypeAverage Cost Per Hour*Average Cost Per Month*
Central air conditioning$0.12 – $1.13$30 – $270
Ductless mini-split$0.07 – $0.30$17 – $72
Window AC unit$0.08 – $0.23$20 – $55
Portable air conditioner$0.12 – $0.21$30 – $50

Central Air Conditioning

Central air conditioning systems are more costly to run, especially larger units. Typically, the cost correlates with the unit’s size in BTUs (British Thermal Units) and energy consumption.

Cost To Run Central Air Conditioning By Size

Unit Size (BTUs)Energy Consumption (Watts)Cost Per Hour*Average Monthly Cost*
1 ton (12,000 BTU)800 – 1,500$0.12 – $0.23$30 – $54
1.5 ton (18,000 BTU)1,200– 2,250$0.18 – $0.34$43 – $81
2 ton (24,000 BTU)1,600 – 3,000$0.24 – $0.45$58 – $108
2.5 ton (30,000 BTU)2,000 – 3,750$0.30 – $0.56$72 – $135
3 ton (36,000 BTU)2,400 – 4,500$0.36 – $0.68$86 – $162
3.5 ton (42,000 BTU)2,800 – 5,250$0.42 – $0.79$101 – $189
4 ton (48,000 BTU)3,200 – 6,000$0.48 – $0.90$115 – $216
5 ton (60,000 BTU)4,000 – 7,500$0.60 – $1.13$144 – $270

Ductless Mini-Split AC

Ductless mini-split systems are generally more energy-efficient and cost less to run than central air systems.

Cost To Run A Ductless Mini-Split AC

Unit Size (BTUs)Energy Consumption (Watts)Cost Per Hour*Average Monthly Cost*
9,000440 – 700$0.07 – $0.10$17 – $24
12,000600 – 1,000$0.09 – $0.15$22 – $36
18,000900 – 1,500$0.13 – $0.23$31 – $55
24,0001,250 – 2,000$0.19 – $0.30$46 – $72

Window AC Unit

Window AC units are relatively low-cost options for air conditioning, typically costing between $20 and $55 per month.

Cost To Run A Window AC

Unit Size (BTUs)Energy Consumption (Watts)Cost Per Hour*Average Monthly Cost*
5,000 – 8,000500 – 800$0.08 – $0.12$19 – $29
8,000 – 10,000800 – 1,000$0.12 – $0.15$29 – $36
10,000 – 12,0001,000 – 1,200$0.15 – $0.18$36 – $43
12,000 – 15,0001,200 – 1,500$0.18 – $0.23$43 – $55

Portable AC Unit

Portable AC units offer flexibility and relatively low costs, making them a popular choice for spot cooling needs.

Cost To Run A Portable AC

Unit Size (BTUs)Average Power Consumption (Watts)Cost Per Hour*Average Monthly Cost*
8,000 – 10,000800 – 1,000$0.12 – $0.15$29 – $36
10,000 – 12,0001,000 – 1,200$0.15 – $0.18$36 – $43
12,000 – 14,0001,200 – 1,400$0.18 – $0.21$43 – $50

Factors That Affect The Cost To Run An AC

Several factors influence the cost of running an air conditioning system. Understanding these can help you manage and reduce your cooling expenses.

Unit Size

The size of the air conditioning unit, usually measured in BTUs, directly impacts energy consumption and cost. Larger units cool more space but are generally more expensive to operate.

SEER Rating

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating measures the efficiency of an air conditioning system. Higher SEER ratings indicate better efficiency and lower operating costs.

Utility Rates

Electricity rates vary by location and utility provider. Higher utility rates will result in higher costs to run an air conditioner.

Hours Of Usage

The number of hours the air conditioner is in operation each day significantly affects the monthly cost. Increased usage results in proportionally higher electricity consumption and costs.

Home’s Condition

The thermal efficiency of your home, including insulation quality, window types, and overall airtightness, can impact how hard your air conditioner has to work to maintain a comfortable temperature.

Air Conditioning Energy Cost Calculator

Using an energy cost calculator can help you estimate the monthly costs to run your air conditioner based on your specific usage patterns and local electricity rates. Many online tools can provide a personalized calculation by inputting your unit’s details, usage hours, and utility rate.

How To Save Money On Your Cooling Costs

There are several effective strategies to reduce the cost of cooling your home:

  1. Regular Maintenance: Ensure your air conditioner is well-maintained and clean to improve efficiency.
  2. Energy-Efficient Models: Consider upgrading to a unit with a higher SEER rating.
  3. Thermostat Settings: Use a programmable thermostat to optimize cooling times.
  4. Home Improvements: Improve insulation and seal leaks to maintain indoor temperature.
  5. Ceiling Fans: Use ceiling fans to circulate air and reduce the load on your AC.

FAQs About The Cost Of Running Air Conditioning

How Much Electricity Does An Air Conditioner Use?

The electricity consumption of an air conditioner depends on its type, size, and efficiency. Central air systems consume between 2,000 to 7,500 watts, while window units may use 500 to 1,500 watts.

Do Old Air Conditioners Cost More To Run?

Yes, older air conditioners are typically less efficient than newer models, leading to higher operating costs. Aging units may also require more frequent maintenance and repairs.

Is It Cheaper To Run A Window AC Or Central Air?

Window AC units generally cost less to run than central air systems due to their smaller size and localized cooling. However, for cooling larger areas, central air systems may be more efficient in the long term.

Is It Cheaper To Leave The AC On All Day?

Leaving the AC on all day is generally more expensive than using it only when needed. Utilizing a programmable thermostat to regulate the temperature based on occupancy can lead to cost savings.

Do Air Conditioners Use More Electricity Than Fans?

Yes, air conditioners generally use significantly more electricity than fans. While fans only circulate air, air conditioners actively cool the air, which requires a substantial amount of energy.

Questions To Ask An AC Contractor

When consulting with an AC contractor, consider asking the following questions:

  1. What is the SEER rating of the recommended unit?
  2. How much will the installation cost, and what does it include?
  3. Are there any available rebates or incentives for installing energy-efficient units?
  4. What kind of maintenance will the unit require?
  5. How long is the warranty period, and what does it cover?

Understanding the costs and factors associated with running an air conditioner can help you make informed decisions to manage and potentially reduce your cooling expenses. For specific, personalized advice and estimates, always consult with a certified AC contractor.

Renotag's renovation cost calculator being used by a person to price their home renovation costs.
social proofs renotag
5K+ homeowners trust Renotag

Your renovation cost is waiting

The world's first renovation cost calculator.

Table of Contents

Calculate your reno price

Add your project details, choose your finishes, and get a price for your project – no contractor needed until construction time.