Air Conditioner Electricity Usage

How much electricity does an air conditioner use?

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In this Canstar Blue guide, we look at how much it costs to run an air conditioner. We break these costs down by location and room size.

A recent Canstar Blue survey revealed that almost a third of Australian households (30%) suspect air conditioning to be the largest contributor to power bills. With this in mind, we’ve crunched the numbers on how much air conditioning will cost your household to run. For these calculations, we have assumed an average electricity usage charge per kilowatt hour (kWh) based on each specific location.

How much does it cost to run an air conditioner ?

According to Canstar Blue data, the average reverse cycle air conditioner costs anywhere from about $30 to $396 a year to run in cooling costs, depending on the size of the room and location. For heating costs, average air conditioner power consumption sees energy costs sitting more between $18 and $528 a year. Again, this is dependent on the size of the room, location and energy rates charged to begin with.

The tables below shows how much you might pay for air con over a year. The prices below are based on usage assumptions for air con use, which consider the energy efficiency of a device according to the climate zone you live in (hot, average, cold). These costs have been broken down by small, medium and large room sizes for reverse cycle, non-ducted, single split systems. Average annual costs for reverse cycle, ducted air conditioners have been included in a separate table.

Average annual air conditioner running costs small room (reverse cycle, non-ducted, single split system)

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Climate Zone City Average Usage Rate Cooling Costs Heating Costs
Hot Brisbane 31.2c/kWh $155 $46
Hot Darwin 28.1c/kWh $140 $41
Average Sydney 35.3c/kWh $61 $193
Average Adelaide 44.9c/kWh $78 $246
Average Perth 30.8c/kWh $54 $169
Cold Melbourne 26.3c/kWh $30 $206
Cold Hobart 29.5c/kWh $33 $231
Cold Canberra 26.4c/kWh $30 $206

Source: www.canstar.com.au – 01/11/2023. Average energy consumption figures based on air conditioners listed in the Commonwealth of Australia E3 Program’s Registration database. Average electricity usage rates based on single rate, non-solar only plans on Canstar’s database, available for an annual usage of 4,347 kWh. With the exception of Perth which is based on the usage rate of the Synergy Home Plan (A1) tariff and Darwin which is based on the government’s regulated rate. Climate zones based on the Zoned Energy Rating Label for air conditioner models imported or supplied after 1 April 2020.

Average annual air conditioner running costs medium room (reverse cycle, non-ducted, single split system)

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Climate Zone City Average Usage Rate Cooling Costs Heating Costs
Hot Brisbane 31.2c/kWh $258 $20
Hot Darwin 28.1c/kWh $232 $18
Average Sydney 35.3c/kWh $101 $153
Average Adelaide 44.9c/kWh $128 $194
Average Perth 30.8c/kWh $88 $133
Cold Melbourne 26.3c/kWh $48 $306
Cold Hobart 29.5c/kWh $54 $343
Cold Canberra 26.4c/kWh $48 $307

Source: www.canstar.com.au – 01/11/2023. Average energy consumption figures based on air conditioners listed in the Commonwealth of Australia E3 Program’s Registration database. Average electricity usage rates based on single rate, non-solar only plans on Canstar’s database, available for an annual usage of 4,347 kWh. With the exception of Perth which is based on the usage rate of the Synergy Home Plan (A1) tariff and Darwin which is based on the government’s regulated rate. Climate zones based on the Zoned Energy Rating Label for air conditioner models imported or supplied after 1 April 2020.

Average annual air conditioner running costs large room (reverse cycle, non-ducted, single split system)

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Climate Zone City Average Usage Rate Cooling Costs Heating Costs
Hot Brisbane 31.2c/kWh $396 $30
Hot Darwin 28.1c/kWh $357 $27
Average Sydney 35.3c/kWh $154 $232
Average Adelaide 44.9c/kWh $195 $295
Average Perth 30.8c/kWh $134 $203
Cold Melbourne 26.3c/kWh $73 $471
Cold Hobart 29.5c/kWh $81 $528
Cold Canberra 26.4c/kWh $73 $473

Source: www.canstar.com.au – 01/11/2023. Average energy consumption figures based on air conditioners listed in the Commonwealth of Australia E3 Program’s Registration database. Average electricity usage rates based on single rate, non-solar only plans on Canstar’s database, available for an annual usage of 4,347 kWh. With the exception of Perth which is based on the usage rate of the Synergy Home Plan (A1) tariff and Darwin which is based on the government’s regulated rate. Climate zones based on the Zoned Energy Rating Label for air conditioner models imported or supplied after 1 April 2020.

Compare cheap electricity deals

While you’re here, why not take the time to compare energy plans in your area. Check out our free comparison tool to see a range of quotes for your suburb or look at some cheap electricity plans by clicking on your state below:

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 3911kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4613kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the SA Power network in Adelaide but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4011kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

What about ducted air conditioner costs?

Ducted air conditioning is the undisputed king of cooling, but it comes at a cost. Not only are ducted aircon systems more expensive to install, but as the table below illustrates, they’re not cheap to run either. Below is the annual ducted air conditioning running costs for a reverse cycle, single-split system. Keep in mind these annual costs will vary depending on which climate zone you’re in, what electricity usage rate you’re being charged, air conditioner unit’s capacity and the size of the room being cooled.

Average annual air conditioner running costs (reverse cycle, ducted, single split system)

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Climate Zone City Average Usage Rate Cooling Costs Heating Costs
Hot Brisbane 31.2c/kWh $1,964 $97
Hot Darwin 28.1c/kWh $1,770 $87
Average Sydney 35.3c/kWh $780 $726
Average Adelaide 44.9c/kWh $992 $924
Average Perth 30.8c/kWh $681 $634
Cold Melbourne 26.3c/kWh $383 $1,451
Cold Hobart 29.5c/kWh $429 $1,628
Cold Canberra 26.4c/kWh $384 $1,457

Source: www.canstar.com.au – 01/11/2023. Average energy consumption figures based on air conditioners listed in the Commonwealth of Australia E3 Program’s Registration database. Average electricity usage rates based on single rate, non-solar only plans on Canstar’s database, available for an annual usage of 4,347 kWh. With the exception of Perth which is based on the usage rate of the Synergy Home Plan (A1) tariff and Darwin which is based on the government’s regulated rate. Climate zones based on the Zoned Energy Rating Label for air conditioner models imported or supplied after 1 April 2020.

How can I reduce my air conditioner power consumption?

We’ve established that air conditioners aren’t necessarily the Big Bad Wolf when it comes to your power bills. However, there is still the potential for your power bill to shock you if you’ve been running your aircon a fair bit through a particularly sweltering summer. Here are some easy tips to potentially minimise the effect aircon can have on your power bill:

  • Consider an energy-efficient air conditioner: Energy-efficient air conditioners cost less to run and could save you lots in the long term. Remember, the more stars on an energy star rating, the more efficient the appliance.
  • Set your air conditioner to the right temperature: Even slight changes to air conditioner temperature settings can add a surprising amount to your electricity bill.
  • Consider alternatives to air conditioning: While modern air conditioners might not cost as much as you think, there are cheaper alternatives. Consider evaporate coolers, ceiling fans, portable aircon units or practical cooling solutions.
  • Buy when the time is right: Unit and installation costs of air conditioners can be fairly seasonal. Hold off on buying until the time is right.
  • Keep your air conditioner clean: A well-maintained aircon unit will run more efficiently than one that has never been cleaned. The harder your system has to work to reach the temperature you have set, the more electricity it will use.
  • Make sure you’re not paying too much for electricity: If you haven’t compared electricity plans recently, you might not be getting the best deal. Compare leading electricity retailers at Canstar Blue.

Air Conditioner Reviews & Ratings

Original Author: Tahnee-Jae Lopez-Vito

Kelseigh Wrigley
Energy Specialist
Kelseigh Wrigley was a content producer at Canstar Blue for three years until 2024, most recently as an Energy Specialist. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the Queensland University of Technology.

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