What is the Cost to Run an Air Conditioner?

Posted on: March 15, 2020

Air Conditioning Replacement in San Diego

Unfortunately, there is no simple or exact number that we can give you because air conditioning costs can vary widely depending on the SEER, the unit size, the manufacturer, age, the cost of electricity in your area, and how well the unit has been maintained throughout its life.  See the following for the cost to run an air conditioner.

We can, however, give an example of an average air conditioner to give you a rough idea of how much energy the average air conditioner consumes.

The average air conditioner in the U.S. today is approximately 3 tons (tons measure how much heat an air conditioner can remove in a single hour) with a 10 SEER efficiency rating. A unit this size draws approximately 2.94kW per hour. To get the approximate cost to run per hour, you simply multiply this number by the cost of electricity per kilowatt-hour. In the San Diego area, electricity costs can vary a great deal depending on the time of day that you are using your air conditioning system—from $0.147 per kilowatt-hour at baseline costs to more than $0.29 per kilowatt-hour at peak usage. For the sake of convenience, we’ll simply use the baseline energy cost of $0.147 per kilowatt-hour. The Cost to Run an Air Conditioner follows.

The Math for the Cost to Run an Air Conditioner:

2.94 x .147= $0.432 per hour during standard demand or roughly double during peak demand. Assuming 1,200 summer cooling hours, your total cost to run a 3 ton 10 SEER AC for a year can range between $516 and $1,023.

If your air conditioner has a SEER rating below the 10 SEER used in this example, your air conditioning costs will be higher. For example, if you have an 8 SEER air conditioner, your system is 20 percent less efficient than a 10 SEER unit, so your cooling costs will be approximately 20 percent higher.

If the air conditioner in your home or business is less than 10 SEER, you could be costing yourself hundreds—even thousands of dollars annually. New energy-efficient air conditioning systems can be more than 20 SEER with the minimum available SEER today being 13. If your air conditioner is more than 10 years old, air conditioner replacement may be a wise financial decision.

The New TOU & Tiered Rate Plans

In 2020, homeowners in California can control their monthly energy bills in new and improved ways. Here is a brief comparison of the two main types of pricing plans:

Time-of-Use (TOU)

Since the start of 2019, homeowners have been transitioning to Time-of-Use plans on a statewide basis. The rates in TOU plans depend on the season, day of the week, and the time of day. This initiative enables customers to shift their energy use away from higher-cost times of day, typically from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. During the off-peak periods, customers can take advantage of the lower rates and decrease their energy bills significantly.

Tiered Rate Plans

This billing plan is closer to traditional plans where limiting your overall energy consumption will allow you to control your energy bills and keep them low. At the start of each new billing period, your rates will begin in Tier 1, meaning that they will have the lowest price per kWh. If your household uses more energy than the amount allocated in Tier 1 for your area, your rates will move into Tier 2. If you use even more energy, you may also be charged a high usage rate as mandated by the state.

Air Conditioner Installation in San Diego

No matter which billing plan you decide to go with, using an inefficient air conditioner will decrease your chances of keeping your energy bills low. If you are interested in replacing your old inefficient air conditioning system, contact the San Diego air conditioner replacement experts at Action Air, Heating & Solar today!