How Much Energy Does an Air Conditioner Use?

Spring and summer bring lots of opportunities for family gatherings, outdoor activities, and other memorable moments. They also push homeowners to crank up their air conditioners when temperatures rise to uncomfortable degrees. Like many residents in Farmington, MA, you might feel dread when your energy bill arrives.

How much energy does an air conditioner use anyway? As reliable providers of air conditioning service in Farmington, MA, our team at Pro Comfort Control provides an answer to this burning question.

how much energy does an air conditioner use

Understanding Electrical Terms and Measurements

The conversation about air conditioner energy usage involves a few specific terms and definitions: 

  • SEER rating: The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) refers to how your unit functions under different conditions. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the unit is. 
  • kWh: This abbreviation stands for kilowatt-hour and indicates how long an appliance takes to use 1,000 watts. If an appliance uses 100 watts per hour, then its kWh is 10.  
  • AC capacity: Also known as tonnage, your unit’s capacity refers to its size in weight. Larger appliances require more electricity. 
  • Wattage: You measure wattage using the following formula: Tonnage × 12,000 BTU / SEER rating.
  • BTU: A British Thermal Unit (BTU) is a measurement of heat. An air conditioner will remove a certain amount of BTUs within a certain amount of time. 

How can you use these terms? While measurements appear complicated, you can find a few ways to accurately measure the energy your unit uses.

One method involves finding an air conditioner kWh calculator. Enter the tonnage and SEER rating as prompted, and you should get accurate results easily. However, this method only works for central and mini-split systems.

Factors That Affect Energy Usage

How much energy does an air conditioner use? The answer depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • The size of your unit
  • The type of unit you use to cool your home
  • The square foot measurements of your home
  • Your indoor temperature settings
  • Your unit’s SEER rating
  • Whether or not you employ a maintenance routine
  • Your home’s insulation

Larger units that go without professional maintenance or repairs will use more energy than a similar unit that receives consistent tune-ups.

Additionally, the type of air conditioner you own will affect the cost of electricity every month.

Types of Air Conditioners

Central air conditioners use more energy than most other systems. They can use up to 3,500 watts per hour, putting them at 3.5 kWh per hour. In warmer climates, they may operate more often and for longer to reach ideal indoor temperatures.

Window units clock in at about 1,000 watts each hour, which places them at about 1 kWh or less. While this number seems modest when compared to central air conditioners, the kWh ratio adds up in larger buildings. If you have numerous rooms that require a window unit, your kWh usage will quickly catch up with that of a central air conditioner.

Portable units can use around 3,000 watts an hour, placing them alongside central systems in energy consumption. Larger, more expensive portable units can even surpass central conditioners. 

Determining Your Energy Usage

You can determine your household energy consumption using two different methods. The first method requires checking your energy bill. The second involves tracking your energy usage over a month using your electrical meter.

Check your energy bill for a graph or other metric that displays your monthly kWh usage. Some bills show your house kWh totals for previous months and your current billing cycle. Set a goal to lessen your monthly kWh by eliminating unnecessary electricity usage.

If your bill doesn’t display this information, check your electrical meter outdoors. The digital screen will cycle through a few numerical measurements, one of which is your household’s lifetime kWh. Record the current number beside the kWh display.

Set a calendar reminder a month from the date you recorded the information. Next month, record the new kWh number. Subtract last month’s measurement from the current one. Use that number to set future goals and improve your electricity usage. 

How Much Energy Does an Air Conditioner Use? Find Out with Pro Comfort Control’s Services

How much energy does an air conditioner use? While this metric depends on numerous factors, you can use multiple methods to determine the final kWh. You can also request assistance from our team of HVAC specialists at Pro Comfort Control.

We’ll help you make difficult decisions like choosing between AC repair or replacement. Call us at (508) 684-5362 to request energy-saving services.