What is the cost of running air conditioning this summer?

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With power prices soaring, it now costs more than ever to cool your home. As a result, 62% of Aussies say they’ve cut their air conditioning usage to save money – up from 51% last year. So how much does air conditioning really cost? In this article, Canstar Blue explores air conditioning running costs and offers a guide as to what you can expect to pay to keep cool this summer.

A whopping 69% of Australians we surveyed believe air conditioning is the largest contributor to their power bills. While it’s certainly true that air conditioners can consume enormous amounts of electricity, this will naturally depend on how, and how often, they are used. So before you swelter through another scorcher of a summer, check out our calculations below to see what it might cost to run your air conditioner.

Split System Air Conditioner Running Costs

Split system air conditioners are one of the most popular types of cooling and heating systems as they are fairly easy to install and comparatively affordable to purchase. As the table below shows, they can also be reasonably cheap to run, so long as you’re sensible about your usage.

Hours per day Summer cooling costs Winter heating costs
2 $108 $45
4 $216 $90
6 $325 $135
8 $432 $180
12 $648 $270
24 $1,296 $540

*Calculations assume cooling costs of 60c/hour and heating costs of 25c/hour, based on an electricity usage rate of 35c/kWh. Calculations assume stated usage per day for 90 days.

As you can see, running the air conditioner for a couple hours per day won’t cost the earth, but it can quickly add up if you’re not careful. If you have air con in multiple rooms, simply add up the figures from the above as you consider appropriate to estimate your total cooling costs. Keep in mind that temperature settings, insulation, the age of your air con system and the price you pay for power can all impact these figures.

Our figures are based on just four hours of air con usage each day. These costs can quickly add up if you use your air conditioner a lot more frequently! Also consider the price you pay for power. If you’re paying over the odds, you’ll be paying more to keep cool than you need to.

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Ducted Air Conditioner Running Costs

Ducted air conditioning is the undisputed king of cooling, but it comes at a cost. Not only are ducted air con systems expensive to install, but as the table below illustrates, they’re not cheap to run either.

Hours per day Summer cooling costs Winter heating costs
2 $540 $324
4 $1,080 $648
6 $1,620 $972
8 $2,160 $1,296
12 $3,240 $1,944
24 $6,480 $3,888

*Calculations assume cooling costs of $3/hour and heating costs of $1.80/hour, based on an electricity usage rate of 35c/kWh. Calculations assume stated usage per day for 90 days.

Ducted air conditioning is expensive to install and difficult to replace, so it’s definitely in the long-term interests of your bank account to get a system with a reasonable energy-efficiency rating. As you can see, running whole-house ducted air conditioning continuously during the summer can cost you an absolute fortune, especially if you have an old ducted system without zoned control.

Once again, our calculations are based on just four hours of air con usage each day. These costs will quickly get out of control if you use your ducted air conditioning excessively.

Cheap Electricity Deals

While you’re comparing electricity running costs, why not compare energy plans in your area. Follow the links below to compare the cheapest deals on our database for your state.

Ceiling Fan Running Costs

The humble ceiling fan is a great way to keep cool on the cheap. It obviously won’t be as effective as air conditioning, but it’s a reasonable alternative for warm days. Here are estimated running costs for ceiling fans:

Hours per day Cooling costs
2 $7
4 $14
6 $22
8 $28
12 $43
24 $88

*Calculations assume running costs of 4c/hour, based on an electricity usage rate of 35c/kWh. Calculations assume stated usage per day for 90 days.

As you can see, you can run a ceiling fan over summer for less than the cost of lunch out. So if you have the option, try using your ceiling fan instead of the air conditioner whenever possible. However, keep in mind that the calculations above are for just one ceiling used four hours a day. If you use several ceiling fans, costs will quickly add up. Canstar Blue has a more detailed analysis on hourly running costs of ceiling fans.

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How to save on air conditioning running costs

There are some inevitable costs that come with owning an air conditioner: The initial purchase, installation, ongoing maintenance, and of course the running costs all add up. But there are ways to help minimise the cost of keeping cool. Here are a few:

If you want to learn more about air conditioner running costs, we go into more detail in this report.

Air Conditioner Reviews & Ratings

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