How Much Electricity Does A Central Air Conditioner Use?

Central air conditioners are great for keeping your home cool during the hot summer months. Perhaps your home has a central air conditioner, and you are wondering how much electricity it uses? Or maybe you are researching if it is okay to leave the AC unit running continuously? These are excellent questions. We've done the research, and we have found definite answers to your questions.

Generally, a central air conditioning unit that runs for eight to nine hours daily during the hottest summer months will use 3,000 to 5,000 watts of power per hour. The wattage per hour (Wh) estimate varies because AC units differ in amps and sizes. Also, the time of year, location, size of the home, and indoor temperature settings will significantly impact the wattage used. 

Are you interested in learning more about how central air conditioners work? Perhaps you are wondering how much electricity your central air conditioner uses each day? Or are you curious how many hours the AC should run per day? We hope you continue reading our post. We have researched these important questions and have found a lot of helpful information to share with you!

Two air conditioner condensers outside a house, How Much Electricity Does A Central Air Conditioner Use?

How much electricity does a central air conditioner use?

Central air conditioner units are typically located outside of the house and connected via the duct system that delivers clean, cool air to all of the rooms in the house. Moreover, electricity usage estimates will vary depending on the model, room/outdoor temperature, time of use, and energy costs based on your location.

For example, in states like Arizona, most air conditioning units run several months of the year for nine hours or more per day. In other states like Minnesota, the AC will only run for three months out of the year or less. The climate where your home is located will be the most significant factor in the wattages used.

The electrical usage per central air conditioning unit ranges from 3,000 to 5,000 watts per usage hour. The average central air conditioning units use 3,300 to 3,500 Wh, and these AC units weigh about 2,000 to 2,500 pounds.

These watts per hour are based on the AC running on the cool setting. Suppose you were only running the fan setting for air circulation purposes. Doing so would lower the wattage to roughly 750 watts per electrical hour.

How much does it cost to run a central air conditioner?

According to the Appliance Analysts, the estimated average cost per month to run a central air conditioning system in the USA ranges from $76 to $168 per month.

To determine the cost of running your central air conditioner. You must know the exact central air conditioner model, the amps, and how many hours the unit is used per day or month. Next, research the price per kilowatt of energy where you live.

The best way to do this is to visit your energy company's website and find the current energy costs. Depending on your electric company, they may offer an energy usage calculator where you could type your hours of electrical usage and the wattage of your central AC unit to determine the exact costs per day, month, season, etc.

How to calculate the costs per day of electrical usage

To roughly estimate your energy costs per day. Multiply the number of watts by the number of hours of energy usage. For example, if the AC unit uses between 3,000 to 5,000 watts per hour and runs nine hours per day and the cost per kilowatt is 0.10, the final price per day ranges from $2.70 to $4.50.

Moreover, you could revisit these energy calculations once per month to track your house's energy consumption and to estimate next month's electric bill.

Click here to view the Sense Energy Monitor on Amazon. 

This easy-to-use app will help track your home's electricity consumption and send updates directly to your smartphone.

Is it okay to leave AC on all day?

Yes, both central air and window units can run all day if the units are in good working condition. However, running AC units from dawn to dusk may not be necessary to keep your house cool.

You could set the AC at 70F degrees and the fan on auto. The AC will run until the room temperatures are at 70 degrees --and the AC unit will turn on only to maintain this temperature.

Kilowatt gauge increasing and costing more

In the event you suspect that something is not working correctly or the air conditioner is emitting a burnt smell, do not hesitate to call your HVAC technician! There could be something seriously wrong with your AC --do not run it constantly until it has been inspected for potential issues.

Does your window AC unit look like it is tilted? Click here to read "Should A Window Air Conditioner Be Tilted?"

How many hours should AC run per day?

There is no standard answer for how many hours per day is ideal for a central air conditioning unit. The average number of hours a central AC unit runs in North America is nine hours per day during the summer months.

Moreover, the AC unit could run continuously during the hottest days of summer without the risk of an electrical fire or overheating, provided the AC unit is in good condition.

There are several factors to consider for how many hours your AC unit should run each day. During the hottest summer months, the unit could run the standard nine hours daily or nearly 24 hours. The AC could run for two hours or less daily during the early fall and summer months.

For most, only running the AC unit when necessary for the shortest amount of time possible is a great way to use less energy and save money on your energy bills. Using the auto and temperature setting features is great for keeping an eye on your energy use and your home cool.

Is it cheaper to run central AC or window units?

According to Mr. Energy, it is 1/3 less expensive to run window units rather than an entire 2.5-ton central air conditioning system for the same amount of cooling time. However, the size of your home will determine which cooling system is best for you and your loved ones.

Suppose you have a sizeable four-plus bedroom home. In this situation, installing a central AC unit would be the best and most practical option because it would require several window units to cool a house of this size. Also, window AC units are engineered for apartments and small houses with minimal footage to cool.

Are you interested in learning about where a window air conditioner draws air indoors or outdoors? Click here to read "Does A Window Air Conditioner Pull Air From Outside?"

Window air conditioning unit outside and apartment

Is it cheaper to run fans or AC?

Yes. It is always cheaper to run standard tabletop or standing fans because fans require much less energy to run effectively than any air conditioning unit, even if it is an energy star appliance. Using fans to cool your home can have a few advantages.

  • Firstly, fans are lightweight and easy to move from one room to another for air circulation purposes.
  • Secondly, owning several fans is beneficial during the summer months because fans are great for helping to circulate the cool air from the air conditioners.
  • Thirdly, you could lower your AC temperature by four degrees with the kitchen ceiling fan running to distribute the cool air without feeling a noticeable temperature difference.
  • Fourthly, in efforts to save money and reduce your home's carbon footprint, you could turn the AC off at night and simply circulate the indoor air with fans. Turning the AC off at night reduces costs and gives the appliance time to cool down entirely after running for several hours during the day.

Are you interested in reading more about how ceiling fans help circulate the air conditioner's output? Click here to read our article "Do Ceiling Fans Help AC?"

In Closing

The ongoing efforts to maintain a cool home during the heat of the summer months can be challenging; hence, why a central air conditioning unit is integral to managing your homes' temperatures.  We sincerely hope this article was helpful to you for learning more about air conditioners and how they work. Please visit soon for more helpful cooling and heating content!

Please, be sure to check out some of our other posts for further HVAC information and inspiration!

Ductless Air Conditioning Not Cooling – What Could Be Wrong?

How To Improve Air Circulation In A Room Without Windows

Can You Run An Attic Fan With The AC On? [And should you?]

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