An air conditioner is often one of the biggest users of electricity in the home, so it is a good idea to carefully consider the amount of power your unit will need. Different types of units will vary significantly on their wattage, so your air conditioner might end up using anywhere from 500 to 4,000 watts each hour. If you want to save energy, here are some important things you need to know.
What Is an Air Conditioner’s Wattage?
Most people are aware that a watt is somehow related to electricity and power. A greater number of watts means an item uses more energy to run. However, the average person’s understanding of watts tends to be a little on the abstract side. To truly understand what it means to have a 3,000-watt or a 500-watt air conditioner, it is helpful to know what a watt really is.
The watt is the standard unit for measuring how much power something uses. One watt describes the rate at which work is done when a single ampere of current flows. Essentially, when people talk about wattage, they are discussing the rate at which power has to flow to the air conditioner to make it run at any given time. The wattage of an air conditioner refers to the watts it uses for an hour of run time.
Of course, an air conditioner needs far more than a single watt of power to actually run, so they often have ratings like 1,500 watts. This would mean that the air conditioner uses 1,500 watts of power over the course of an hour. These numbers are large and somewhat awkward, so equipment is rated in kilowatts. A kilowatt is 1000 watts of power. So, if an AC unit is rated at 1.5 kilowatt hours, that means it uses 1,500 watts of power over the course of an hour. These kilowatt hours are typically the measurement your power company uses to calculate your electric bill.
What’s the Average Wattage of an Air Conditioner?
There is no standard wattage for air conditioners because all models tend to be quite different. You can get a basic estimate of how many watts a unit uses by considering its size. Small air conditioning units meant for individual rooms might have a wattage of around 500 to 1,400. If you have a central air conditioning unit for a small home, expect to use around 1,100 watts to 1,900 watts. Central air conditioning units of medium size may use somewhere between 1,500 and 2,900 watts. If you have a truly massive air conditioner for a large home, you might end up using somewhere between 2,500 and 4,800 watts.
Keep in mind that these numbers are rough estimates and that they average all the different run stages of an air conditioner. In the first few seconds when your air conditioner is starting up, it will draw power at a much faster rate. Meanwhile, if your air conditioner is only running the fan instead of actively cooling, its wattage will be much less. Just running the central air conditioning fan will take around 750 watts.
Factors That Affect How Many Watts an AC Uses
Why is there so much variation in wattage among different AC units? There are several factors that can affect a machine’s efficiency. It all comes down to the way a unit is made. Some of the most important considerations are the sizes of the evaporator and condenser coils. Larger ones provide a greater area of heat transfer surfaces so they can cool air more rapidly.
Another way that air conditioning manufacturers reduce wattage is by using special motors. Newer electric motors tend to be very efficient. Though they cost a little more to install, they can provide savings because they require less power to get your air conditioner’s fan moving and its compressor running. Even little things like the types of materials used for the outside of the case can have a big impact on overall wattage.
How to Tell the Wattage of Your Air Conditioner
Ultimately, there are all sorts of factors that can affect how much power your air conditioner uses. To figure out the wattage of your specific model, you will need to look carefully at your unit. Many air conditioner manuals or manufacturer’s guides will tell you the wattage for your air conditioning equipment. If you do not have this information, check the sticker label that will be somewhere on your AC unit.
Some labels will include wattage, but even if they do not, you can still calculate it. All you have to do is look for the voltage and the amperage. These are facts that AC companies are required to include on the label. You can multiply these two numbers together to get the watts your air conditioner uses. If you want to calculate your electric bill, you can just divide this number by 1,000 to get the kilowatt hours used by your air conditioner.
How to Save Energy When Running Your AC
If you do not like the number of watts your air conditioner is using, you have several options. First, you can try just running your air conditioning less. This does not lower the rate at which your system draws power, but it does reduce the amount of power you use overall. A simple way of doing this is just bumping your thermostat setting up a notch. Increasing your setting by only a few degrees can save you hundreds of dollars in energy bills.
To stay comfortable while running your air conditioning less, consider using ceiling fans. These utilize minimal power compared to an air conditioning system, but they can have a very strong cooling effect. You may also want to consider a smart thermostat. This can lower air conditioning usage automatically while you are away from home, so it saves you a lot of money. If you’re not fortunate enough to have your home shaded by trees, you can use curtains to block the amount of light and heat that enters your home through the windows.
One of the main things you can do to save energy is simply installing an air conditioner that is extremely energy efficient. Because there is so much variation among different types of air conditioners, directly comparing wattage may not provide the full picture. For example, one unit might run at a higher wattage, but it might need to run for less time to cool your home. To compare efficiency across models, try looking at a unit’s SEER rating. This will tell you how much energy the equipment uses over an entire average cooling season.
If you are interested in saving energy, Polar Air & Heating, Inc. is here to help. We can service your machine to help it run more efficiently, or we can help you install a new, energy-efficient air conditioner. In fact, our team performs a complete range of cooling, heating and indoor air quality installations, maintenance and repairs throughout the Las Vegas region. Give us a call today to discuss your home comfort needs or schedule an appointment.