AIR CONDITIONER RUNNING COSTS

When planning to add an air conditioning solution to their homes, most people want to know the running costs – quite reasonable, since they’ll be paying the bills. So, how much do air conditioners cost to run?

Air Conditioner Running Costs Calculator

Calculate how much it costs to run an air conditioner. Use different tariffs for different times of the day. Set up schedules for maximum efficiency and lowest running costs.

"*" indicates required fields

Please be sure to work through the entire form in order to get the most accurate estimate, and have a recent electricity bill on hand so you can work from real data.

Depending upon which electric provider you are with and what plan you are on, you may have up to 3 different rates for different times of day.

Get this information from your manufacturer's brochure or from the printed label stuck on the side of the condenser (outdoor unit) of your system. PLEASE NOTE: the kW capacity of air conditioning systems is predominantly expressed in thermal kW's NOT electrical - they are not the same!

Here’s how much it costs per hour, in cents per hour, to operate your air conditioner at its rated capacity (100%). This will help you calculate your energy bill, and therefore reduce running costs for your central AC units. These use real, average cost figures.

So, here are the air conditioner running costs based on your data for both a 40% and 70% operating rate:

Finally, if you want to know your air conditioner running cost during the course of a whole day, you'll need to know how many hours you intend to run it and at what capacity and at what tariff

So, fill in the boxes below as much as you need to and then you'll see the total daily cost.

Enter your email address to get your completed details sent to you in HTML format. Our server does not keep the email addresses so we won't spam you.

The facts about air conditioner running costs

When planning to add an air conditioning solution to their homes, most people want to know the potential running costs – quite reasonable, since they’ll be paying the bills!

  • Ducted  air conditioners work better at maintaining a stable  temperature than they do at causing drastic temperature changes (such as dropping the temperature from 45 C to 20C after being off all day). This makes them better with energy efficiency while still providing cool air.
  • Air conditioning systems with remote controls that allow you to run your AC, turning them off and on and adjust settings from a distance (like the Daikin WiFi Controller BRP072C42 and Daikin Airbase BRP15B61) are great because they allow you to turn on your system before you arrive, giving it time to work efficiently towards a goal temperature.
  • Regular service (including cleaning or replacing the filters) will make your central air conditioner last longer and reduce the air conditioner running costs – just like your car.
  • Air conditioners have limits – they’re just big heat exchangers where one side gets hot, the other cold, and the heat is dissipated into the atmosphere in cooling mode.  That means outside temperature affects its performance: most modern air conditioners can handle outside temperatures up to 46 C – so when a record temperature of 45.8C was set in Sydney in January 2013, it wasn’t possible to release much heat, and many air conditioners will just turn themselves off in that situation.
  • As a result, limiting the heat your home is exposed to goes a long way toward reducing your air conditioner running costs.  This can include:
    • Insulation, including in the roof and walls – basically anywhere you can
    • Draw blinds and curtains to keep out the sun
    • Add awnings to windows
    • Be reasonable in your temperature expectations – a 10C-12C temperature drop can be a perfectly acceptable performance
  • Setting a temperature your system has no hope of maintaining will only result in huge bills.  Keeping your setting in the low 20s in winter and the mid-20s in summer will keep you comfortable while keeping air conditioner running costs reasonable – there’s nothing wrong with wearing socks in the winter and shorts in the summer to stay comfortable.

All the electrical data we’re using for this guide is accurate as of 2nd April 2022.  And if you’re considering ducted gas heating then have a look at our post on ducted gas heating running costs.

Air conditioner running costs, Example 1

To help put everything in context, let’s look at a couple of real-world examples.

Imagine a professional couple living on the North Shore.  Let’s make a few simple assumptions about them:

  • It’s summer!
  • They both leave for work at 7.30 am, five days a week.
  • They get home most nights around 8.00 pm
  • They have a Daikin WiFi Controller (love those things) and they can turn their Lounge air conditioning (a 6kW split) on about a half-hour before they get home, and later on the bedroom unit (a 2.5kW split) without having to head upstairs.
  • Their insulation in the roof and walls is average.
  • They are on an AGL*  plan with a time of use meter that splits its’ tariff into 3 sections:
    • Peak – 2 pm to 8 pm Monday to Friday (excl. public holidays) @ 52.998 cents/kWh
    • Shoulder – 7 am to 2 pm and 8 pm to 10 pm Monday to Friday and 7 am to 10 pm weekends and public holidays @ 21.78 cents/kWh
    • Off-peak – 10 pm to 7 am every day @ 13.717 cents/kWh

*AGL prices correct for NSW as of 2nd April 2022.

That’s all the information we need.  What does it tell us?

When the lounge air conditioner comes on at 7.30 pm via remote, it works at 100% for 15 minutes and then drops to 70% for a further 15 minutes.  Then it hits the goal temperature and it runs at 40% until they go upstairs at 11.00 pm.

When the bedroom unit is turned on at 10.30 pm it also runs at 100% and 70% for fifteen minutes each.  The temperature setting keeps the system running all night at 40% until they turn it off at 7.00 am and the whole cycle begins again.

Our calculator tool above tells us, then:

  • The 6.0kW Lounge air conditioner is costing them $0.5098 each evening
  • The 2.5kW Bedroom air conditioner is costing them $0.2988 overnight

Total cost? A whopping $0.8086 a day to stay cool!

Air conditioner running costs, Example 2

Maybe that $0.8086 is a special case?  Let’s look at another example.

This time, let’s imagine a family of four living on the Northern Beaches.  Again we make some assumptions:

  • Summer again, naturally.
  • Dad works full time, Mum is home with the kids.
  • The kids are at school from 8.30 am to 4.00 pm each weekday.
  • They understand that it’s more efficient to keep the house at a reasonable temperature all day instead of blasting the AC when you come home.
  • They have a 14kW Daikin ducted system serving the Living areas and 4 bedrooms via 8 ceiling outlets.
  • They also have an adequately good roof and wall insulation, and they’re on the same electric plan as Example 1.

Let’s say a heatwave hits the Northern Beaches, and Mum turns on the air conditioner at 8.30 am with a temperature setting of 26C.  She takes the time to close all the doors and windows and draw the blinds in order to give the system a good chance.

As a result, the system runs at 70% for 15 minutes then 40% for the rest of the day.  They turn the system off at 10.30 pm at night when the temperature has become a little more bearable.

Total air conditioner running costs for this 14 hour period based on our calculator: $7.7286.  That’s not bad for running continuously for 14 hours!

Disclaimer

Sorry about this bit, but…  Although Peninsula Air Conditioning Pty Ltd believes all the facts, figures and calculations are correct it will not accept any liability for your use of, or reliability upon, any information presented above.  If your circumstances warrant it we suggest you employ the services of a suitably qualified Mechanical Engineer.