There are days when having an AC window unit seems absolutely essential.
The heat would otherwise be unbearable!
Yet, despite the cool relief they provide at the hottest times of the year, how much power do they use?
We’ll discuss in detail just how much electricity an average window AC unit consumes, if it’s worth buying one in the first place, and some alternative devices that can also cool your home.
Window AC Units: Electricity Usage
AC units can consume from 500 to 5,000 watts of electricity.
Most air conditioners are measured using British Thermal Units (or BTUs), which are defined as, “the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.”
The more BTUs a window AC is capable of, the more electricity it will consume overall.
If you want to save money on your next power bill, get an AC unit that has a low BTU amount.
However, it may not cool your entire house the way you want it to.
Another technical term you may come across is EER, or Energy Efficiency Ratio.
This measures how much wattage and power an AC unit uses.
The lower the EER, the more power it will consume.
A higher EER means it will consume less power.
Whereas such units might be a bit more expensive than some cheaper ones, buying a window air conditioner with one of the highest EER ratings (can go up to 18), can save you more money overtime than just running a low BTU unit 8 hours a day.
How Much Does It Cost To Run A Window AC Unit?
Yet, what will the actual cost be of running your AC unit?
It varies from place to place.
To calculate the average cost, you have to know two things; one is the amount of wattage your air conditioner needs to run, and how much your electric company charges per kilowatt-hour (kWh).
Knowing these two numbers will reveal how much per month it costs you to cool your house.
In the United States, the overall average per month is 13 cents per kWh.
Let’s talk about BTU again.
This is the most common unit you will see when shopping around for air conditioners.
BTUs don’t only refer to how much power is consumed, they also let you know how many square feet they can cool.
Naturally, the higher the BTUs, the more cooling it will do throughout your house.
To use an example, an AC unit capable of 10,000 BTUs will affect a room that’s around 450 square feet, or 20X22 feet.
Yet, also remember the EER mentioned earlier.
An air conditioner with a high BTU level may not always mean more cooling for less cost.
Determining which unit has both a high BTU and a high EER may take some research on your part.
Try checking out the manufacturer’s website regarding the specific model you’re interested in, or carefully read the product manual.
How To Lower Electricity Costs With A Window AC Unit
There may be other factors that you’ll need to consider to get the most bang for your buck.
Things such as open doors and windows can lead to a higher monthly AC cost, because the unit will have to compete hard with the ambient air just to cool off the room.
To combat this, make sure your windows and doors are adequately sealed to keep the cold air in, and the hot stuff out.
Another helpful action you can do without calling a technician is doing weekly checks on the air filter.
This part prevents debris, dust, even small insects from being sucked in and blown into your house.
If the filter becomes too clogged, your AC unit becomes less efficient, resulting in higher monthly costs to run it.
Clean the filter out if it becomes too dirty, or you notice that the room seems a little warmer than usual.
Adjusting your indoor temperature can help too.
Many AC units are programmed to shut off the cooling cycle and run the fan alone once a certain temperature is achieved.
Toggle your thermostat until your AC is running in fan mode.
The more you do that, the smaller your monthly electricity bill.
Unfortunately, there are some factors that affect costs that are outside your control.
Blazing hot outdoor temperatures may affect the function of your AC unit so much, that it has no choice but to run a constant cooling cycle.
However, the one factor that can affect cost the most is how much air conditioning you use per day.
If you’re able, try and turn it off for long periods, and even when you leave the house to run some errands.
Air conditioning time, is in fact, money as well.
Window AC Unit Alternatives That Use Less Electricity
Having your own window air conditioner can be wonderful, but are there alternatives that can be just as effective at cooling your home?
Cooling a large enough space might require traditional air conditioning, but you could also try things such as a ductless or mini-split air conditioner.
These units enable you to adjust the temperature of single rooms, and can cost around $1,300 for the cheapest options.
Other alternatives include an evaporative or swamp cooler, which uses a water-soaked sponge that has its cooled air blown.
Be warned though, this type of system only works in areas where humidity is low.
If you live in a climate that isn’t too hot, you can try an attic fan.
Whereas it doesn’t cool the air down, it can circulate the atmosphere within your home so that any hot air gets pushed out.
They can also be quite cheap, as attic fans can go as low as $369!
That or you can try a simple table fan, and some only cost $15.
It can be difficult figuring out which window AC unit you’ll need and how much it can cost to run per month.
Yet, the more you focus on your individual needs, and compare them to what’s available on the market today, eventually the right AC unit will show up, and it won’t drain your bank account.