How Much Does it Cost to Run an Air Conditioner?

If you’re feeling a bit concerned about how much energy you use at home, then you’re probably asking yourself this question right now – especially with a particularly hot summer just around the corner.

The truth is, there are many factors that determine how much it costs to run your air conditioner.

This includes the:

  • Type of air conditioner – Ducted, split, portable, and hybrid
  • Make, model, and energy rating of your air conditioner
  • Climate of your local area
  • Size and amount of rooms that need climate control
  • Hours per day the air conditioner gets used
  • Quality of insulation in the house
  • Craftsmanship of the house itself – poor workmanship can increase the risk of air leaks, forcing the air conditioner to work harder
  • Rates of your local electricity provider

Any one of these factors can influence the cost of running your air conditioner.

But, for the sake of this article, we’re going to focus purely on the average running cost of air conditioning. We’re also going to look at how the running cost compares to other appliances, and what you can do to help reduce your electricity bills.

Let’s dive in:

Average running cost of air conditioning:

According to the Department of the Environment and Energy, heating and cooling accounts for 20 to 50 percent of energy usage in Australian homes.[1]

For this reason, more people are making the switch to more energy-efficient practices. By minimising overall usage, improving their household shading and insulation, and purchasing air conditioners with high energy star ratings.

However, by knowing how much it costs to run your air conditioner, this can help give you a clearer understanding of exactly where your money is going.

Here is a simple breakdown of the average hourly running cost for different types of air conditioners.

Window and split refrigerative systems:

  • 23-39¢ (12m2 room)
  • 48-70¢ (36m2 room)
  • 76-97¢ (50m2 room)

Portable refrigerative systems:

  • 40¢ (up to 20m2 room)

Ducted refrigerative systems:

  • $2.37-3.39 Whole of house (200m2 home with 125m2 cooled)

As you can see, the ducted refrigerative system is the most expensive out of the whole lot. This is understandable, as the system is designed to cool and heat – as much as is within reason – every room in a household. Of course, during an intense summer, sometimes it’s worth the upfront cost to be comfortable indoors.

What about yearly running costs? Well, if you were to run a window and split refrigerative system for four hours every day in summer, this can add an extra $140-$350 to your annual energy bill, depending on room size. That’s quite a significant increase! Furthermore, if you were to run a ducted refrigerative system for the same time period, this can add a whopping $1,500+ to your annual energy bill.[2]

Keep in mind that these estimates, collected by the South Australian Government website, only serve as a guide. Prices may also vary depending on room size and whether the unit is used for heating or cooling purposes.

To get a better idea of just how much it costs to run your air conditioner, speak to your friendly local electrician. They can assess your current living situation and recommend the best heating and cooling solution for you.

Contact Oldmate ACT today on 02 6254 6576 or request a FREE online quote.

How does air conditioning stack up against other appliances?

While heating and cooling appliances can account for a significant portion of your household energy bill, they are not always the worst offender.

Many other appliances in your house can be just as, if not more, expensive to run than your air conditioner. From kitchen appliances and lighting through to washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers. When used together on a daily basis, these appliances can easily make your energy bill soar.

This is not to say you should be careless with how you use your air conditioner. But, by knowing how much other appliances contribute to your energy bill, this can help you better understand what is costing you money, and how you can reduce your usage in other area of the home.

Below is a breakdown of the average hourly running cost of other household appliances. According to YourHome.gov.au the cost of ‘Appliances and equipment including refrigeration and cooking’ accounts for 33 percent of your annual energy bill.[3] The below figures are the average percentage of each appliance which may contribute to that figure.

  • Refrigerator and freezer: 18 percent
  • Cooking (oven, stovetop, grill, and toaster): 15 percent
  • Microwave: 2 percent
  • Dishwasher: 2 percent
  • Washing machine: 2 percent
  • Clothes dryer: 2 percent

How to reduce your household heating and cooling costs?

There are many ways you can save money around your home. Most of these tips are simple lifestyle changes that require minimal effort. When implemented on a regular basis, they can help reduce the strain on your family budget.

  • During summer, raise the temperature of your A/C to 24°C. During winter, lower the temperature of your A/C to 18°C. By changing these settings, your A/C won’t have to work as hard in order to maintain a consistent temperature, and will help lower your running costs.
  • Only use the A/C in rooms that are currently being used. If you have a ducted refrigerative system, and the ability to choose which parts of the house receive heating or cooling, then limit usage to only rooms that are occupied.
  • Keep blinds and windows closed during the day in summer to prevent hot air from getting inside. When the temperature cools down at night, open up the windows and let in the natural cool air. This will reduce your reliance on A/C in order to cool the house down.
  • Where possible, use a combination of ceiling and portable fans. These appliances cost as little as 2-5¢ per hour to operate. And they can help provide some relief before you switch on the air conditioner.
  • Have your air conditioner regularly maintained. Poorly maintained units can be more expensive to run over time. That’s because filters, condenser coils, and drain channels can get clogged and dirty over time, making it harder for air to pass through and increasing the risk of excess moisture in your home.

Speak to your local electrician:

These are just some of the many ways to reduce your heating and cooling costs.

If you’d like to know more about making your home more energy-efficient – or have your existing air conditioner maintained, or have a new air conditioner installed – then contact Oldmate ACT today.

Our highly skilled electricians proudly service the entire Canberra region. They will gladly visit your home, assess your current energy usage, and determine which type of heating and cooling solution is right for you.

Plus, they can provide ongoing maintenance to keep your appliances reliable and affordable to run.

To book an appointment with your local electrician in Canberra, contact Oldmate ACT today. Simply call 02 6254 6576 or request a FREE quote. One of our friendly staff will get straight back to you.


[1] https://www.energy.gov.au/households/heating-and-cooling

[2] https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/energy-and-environment/using-saving-energy/cooling

[3] https://www.yourhome.gov.au/energy/appliances

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