Photograph of  this unusual attic air conditioning system is an example of the range of human creativity observed during a career of building inspections Air Conditioner Costs &
Heat Pump Operating Cost
How to actually calculate HVAC operating costs
     


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Air conditioner or heat pump operating cost guide: this article explains how to calculate the actual cost of operating an air conditioning system in easy to understand language

This article series answers most questions about air conditioning systems. We continue to add to and update this text as new details are provided.

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How Much Does It Actually Cost to Run An Air Conditioner or Heat Pump?

At SEER RATINGS & OTHER DEFINITIONS we explained SEER ratings that measure air conditioning system efficiency, and we explained how we can determine how much energy an air conditioner uses either by the hour of by the season of use. At the end of that section we knew how much energy our air conditioner used, either on an hourly basis or for use during the whole cooling season.

We were able to express the total air conditioning energy used in BTUs or in Kilowatts per hour or per season. Here we complete the process of translating air conditioner use into actual dollar costs.

How Much Will It Cost Per Year to Run An Air Conditioner?

In the United States for December 2007 the average retail price of electricity paid by residential consumers ranged from about $0.063 per kWh (Idaho) to $0.287 per kWh (Hawaii). Your electrical bill will indicate the current charge per kilowatt hour kWh of electricity you use.

How to use the air conditioning cost formula given just below

  • Plug in your actual Air Conditioner's Wh: Where we used 500, plug into the equation below the actual Watt Hours (Definition of WATT HOUR) Wh your air conditioner uses, by following the procedure at SEER RATINGS & OTHER DEFINITIONS. One Wh = one Watt-hour. One kWh = one kilowatt hour or 1000 watt-hours.

  • Plug in your electric bill kWh rate: Just plug in to the equation example below the cost per kWh of electricity from your electric bill where we've used $ 0.25.

  • Multiply these two numbers. Just below, we use an example of $ 0.25 or 25 cents per kWh cost from an electric utility company. [Electrical costs provided by the U.S. Department of Energy at eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/ epm/table5_6_a.html]
  • 500 kWh used per season x $ 0.25 = $125.00 - that's your electricity cost to run the air conditioner for a season.

    How Much Does It Cost Per Hour to Run An Air Conditioning System

    This is an even simpler calculation. Using as an example information from our example air conditioner's data tag,

    ((5000 BTUH) / (10 SEER)) = 500 Wh

    500 Wh x $ 0.25 = $0.12 per hour to run our air conditioner. Twelve cents per hour is your hourly cooling cost to run your A/C.

    Other Equations Using SEER Ratings

    We can also write the SEER equation shown above as:

    SEER = BTUs / Watt-hours
    where "watt-hours" = (number of hours of system operation) x (watts used per hour)

    For more definitions of heating and air conditioning terms see SEER RATINGS & OTHER DEFINITIONS.

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