How Much Does It Cost to Run an Air Conditioner?

Keeping your home cool in the dead of summer requires more electricity than almost anything else you do at home. But for most of us, the comfort of air conditioning is well worth the cost. Still, it’s a good idea to understand how much it costs to run an air conditioner since it can get rather expensive.

The average central air conditioner uses 3,000 and 5,000 watts (3 to 5 kW) while running. Here in Chicago, residential electricity costs 10.44 cents per kWh on average. So to run an average central AC unit in Chicago, it costs roughly $0.31 to $0.52 every hour. If you run your AC for 8 hours per day, that adds up to an average cost of $2.51 to $4.18 each day.

These averages give you a good idea of how much it costs to run an air conditioner. But it’s important to know that these are just averages. Cooling a single room with a window air conditioner for a few hours a day will cost much less. And cooling a 10,000 square foot home all day and night will cost a lot more.

Is It Cheaper to Leave an Air Conditioner On All Day?

No. Many people falsely believe that leaving an air conditioner running all day can actually save energy. These people are correct to assume that lowering the temperature in your home requires more energy than holding it steady. However, turning off your air conditioner while you’re away will save far more energy than maintaining a steady temperature.

How to Save Money on Air Conditioning

Although it isn’t cheaper to leave an air conditioner on all day, there are a number of ways to save money on air conditioning.

Install A More Efficient AC
Replacing aging models with newer, energy-efficient units is the most effective way to reduce your monthly cooling costs. When shopping for a new unit, pay attention to Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). Units with a higher SEER rating require less energy to keep you cool.

You may also want to consider a different kind of air conditioner. Ductless mini-split AC systems allow you to cool different areas of your home independently of one another. As a result, you won’t have to waste energy on cooling areas that you don’t use. Plus, their ductless design helps you save as much as 30% on electricity when compared to traditional central cooling systems.

Use A Programmable Thermostat

It should be clear by now that running your AC all day is not the best way to save on air conditioning costs. But it’s easy to forget to turn off your AC when you’re leaving for the day. Installing a programmable thermostat allows you to create a schedule for your AC. As a result, you don’t have to remember to turn your AC on and off throughout the day.

If you do plan on cooling your home all day, you can still save at least a little money by turning the thermostat to a higher temperature periodically. Simply adjusting the temperature by 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day will help you save about 10% on your energy bill. Consider programming your thermostat to let temperatures rise while you’re away at work and/or while you’re sleeping.

Maintain Your Air Conditioner

Regular maintenance is the best way to keep your air conditioner running efficiently. We’ve discussed the importance of HVAC maintenance at length elsewhere on the site. But we can’t stress enough how much of a difference it makes. Regular maintenance reduces your system’s energy consumption and helps to prolong its life.

Rising Energy Bills

If you’ve noticed your energy bills climbing from year to year, that’s a good indication that there may be an issue with your air conditioner. At Deljo Heating and Cooling, we specialize in air conditioning repair in Chicago and the surrounding areas.

Give us a call at 773-829-4295 if your utility bills are higher than normal for this time of year. We’ll solve the problem for you in no time so you can stop wasting money on an inefficient AC.