Do Window AC Units Use a Lot of Electricity?

window air conditioner

Generally speaking, large appliances and electronics are energy suckers. Dishwashers, washers and dryers, fridges, freezers, as well as televisions and desktop computers – these things all cost money and energy to run.

What about air conditioning units? Especially the small ones that mount in a bedroom window or in an opening through an exterior wall – do they consume more than their fair share of energy?

Yes – they do. They really do. Window AC units are notorious energy suckers!

Luckily for those of us who live in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, the temperature stays relatively pleasant throughout the year. Yes, it gets chilly in the winter and we usually turn the heat on by November, but in the summer, it doesn’t often get too unbearably hot for long stretches at a time.

But when it does, and the temperature heads north of 30 degrees Celsius, it feels nearly impossible to deal with. It’s muggy and we’re sweaty and the heat weighs down on us like a blanket.

That’s why most homes in Vancouver and surrounding cities don’t often have central air conditioning, but more and more are deciding to purchase and install a small window-mounted AC unit.

If you do decide to get a portable AC unit, you will probably see a spike in your energy usage and costs on your next electrical bill. But there are ways you can manage your usage so that staying cool is not a huge cost throughout the summer months.

How much of an increase are we looking at?

A window unit AC uses an average of 900 watts per hour. For comparison, a floor fan uses about 100 watts on the highest speed, a desktop computer uses around 160, and a ceiling fan uses about 70 watts per hour.

Running the AC, even a small one, adds up. So here are some tips to help regulate the temperature without increasing your electrical bill.

Don’t blast it

One common mistake people make with their AC units is that they keep them running for hours, and set the temperature to a very low temperature. Instead, raise the temperature setting a couple of degrees and only run the unit until the temperature is comfortable.

Dress for the weather

We say this in the winter too – it’s easier (and cheaper) to put on or take off a layer rather than adjust the temperature in a room. The same goes for sleeping, it’s better to adjust how many blankets you have on rather than run an AC unit all night.

Fans are your friend

Both ceiling fans and stand up fans do a great job of moving the air around so that it doesn’t feel so stifling hot. And fans can be extra useful after you have used a window AC unit – they move the colder air around and keep the temperature pleasant

In Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, we are lucky that our temperatures are not as extreme as they often are in the rest of the country. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have hot spells and heatwaves.

If you are wondering what will happen to your electrical bill with an AC unit, give us a call. Our certified electricians can help you decide if it’s the right thing for you and your home!