Are Portable Air Conditioners Expensive To Run?

by Raymond Archambault

Portable air conditioners provide a unique alternative to basic cooling fans and complex HVAC systems.

These self-contained, mobile systems can cater to areas ranging from dens to garages as long as there is one nearby window through which to vent hot air.

The drawbacks of PACs, like any other electric cooling system, are that they have a number of disadvantages.

The effect your PAC has on your power bill is determined by the size of the equipment, your utility provider’s rate, and additional data.

Energy Estimates

Portable air conditioners come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from tiny rolling boxes to mini-fridge-size towers.

They also vary significantly in energy ratings, which are represented by BTU (British thermal units) and the amount of energy required to cool or warm one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.

The amount of heat PAC can pass from the space each hour is measured in BTUs.

PACs cool about 160 square feet and have a BTU capacity of 7,500. Models that cover 300 square feet and produce 10,000 BTUs are mid-range, while the largest ones cool around 500 square feet and output 14,000 BTUs.

What Influences Electricity Use In Air Conditioners?

The AC’s Efficiency Rating

It is insufficient to simply use the AC’s capacity; you must also consider the SEER efficiency rating. Look into their SEER score, which is the ratio of cooling power/watts used per hour. The higher the SEER rating, the more effective it is. You should avoid having a SEER rating of less than 14, but if you can, try to attain a 25.

The Maintenance Routine

How often does your air conditioner’s maintenance come up? To keep it operating effectively, we recommend getting it serviced at least once a year. Keep in mind that aside from this, you should change/clean your filters on a regular basis.

The AC’s Capacity

The size of your AC unit is the most important factor in this category since it will have the greatest impact on energy usage. Make sure you pick one with the correct capacity for the space you will be cooling. You’ll need around 20 BTUs per square foot of the area in question, as well as your local climate, of course. You don’t want to invest in a product with a higher capacity (therefore consuming more electricity) than you require.

The Climate

Where do you reside? Assume you live in Las Vegas, which is a particularly humid environment, or Miami, which has a similar climate. In that scenario, if you lived in Oregon for example, you’d need to upgrade your system more than once. If your home is in a hotter location, your air conditioner will have to work harder to cool it.

The Temperature Settings

How chill do you want your home to be? Most manufacturers recommend that you keep your house at least 75 degrees, which is what most people desire. It will utilize more energy if you push it lower than 75 degrees for a period of time.

The Insulation

It’s crucial to think about both the climate where you reside, as well as how well-insulated your home is. If your home isn’t well-insulated, cold air will get out more easily, so you’ll have to run your AC louder to cool the space down to a comfortable temperature.

Converting Energy To Cents

A 7,500-BTU PAC uses roughly 2.2 kWh per hour, whereas a 10,000-BTU model consumes about 2.9 kWh per hour and a 14,000-BTU one 4.1 kWh each hour. The cost of energy in California, for example, as estimated by the U.S. Energy Information Administration is around 16.18 cents per kilowatt-hour as of 2014. At $7.95 per day, running a modest, medium, or large PAC for eight hours a day would cost roughly $2.84, $3.75, or $5.31 each day at this rate (assuming you don’t have any other costs). These figures are calculated as follows: For a period of 30 days usage, these numbers come to $85.20, $112.50, and $159.30 (based on assumed rates).

Considering The Variables

Other factors that influence the cost of a PAC include air conditioner efficiency and hours of usage, as well as location. Electricity costs 9.78 cents in Tennessee, 21.75 cents per kWh in New York, and 12.74 cents in the District of Columbia, with a national average of 11.88 cents, according to the EIA. A longer hose consumes more power since it diverts heated air throughout the length of the hose. Similarly, according to MSN Real Estate, a ten-year-old air conditioner is only half as efficient as a brand new device.

How To Reduce Electricity Bills When Using A Portable Air Conditioner

The Right Size For The Room

We previously stated this, but make sure your air conditioner is rated to fit the size of the space or room. This implies that it’s strong enough to cool the area without overworking itself, but not too strong that you are wasting money.

Buy Energy-Efficient Cooling Options

Smaller and more energy-efficient AC versions feature capabilities that guarantee your portable air conditioner runs at its peak performance. Some include timers that will also shut off the equipment when the ideal temperature has been obtained.

Cooling And Heating System

When the weather begins to get colder, some portable air conditioners may also turn into a heater! This can make the investment even more valuable since it’s essentially a two-in-one device.

Cool One Room At A Time

Chances are that you won’t need to cool your entire home at one time. Even if you are not alone, lowering the temperature of just one room may save you money on your energy bills.

Keep Cool Air Indoors

It’s not merely a question of having adequate insulation in your home. Make sure doors and windows are shut while running your air conditioner, and check for any air leaks that need to be sealed. If you have a fireplace, double-check that the door is closed.

Regular Maintenance

We’ll say it again because it’s so important: make sure your portable air conditioner is serviced on a regular basis! At least twice a year, have your HVAC technician check and clean the filters. Filters that are unclean require the AC unit to work harder than it needs to, resulting in wasted energy and a higher monthly power bill.


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