Have you ever looked at your air conditioning unit and wondered how much power it uses? To answer this question, you’ll need to know how many watts of energy the air conditioner uses. Answering this question can often be tricky because it varies depending on which device you get. Explore our helpful guide to learn all about how air conditioner wattage works.
The Average Watts Used by an AC Unit
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to how many watts an air conditioner uses. On average, an air conditioner can use anywhere between 500 watts and 4,000 watts of electricity. The main reason behind this huge variation in power usage is size. Larger ACs that output more air will always use more watts.
A small window AC unit can use as little as 500 watts while a larger window unit often uses around 1,400 watts. Extremely small central ACs use roughly 1,500 watts, and mid-sized ones might use roughly 2,200. If you have a very large central AC, expect it to use between 3,000 and 4,000 watts.
How to Find Wattage for a Specific AC Model
The above numbers are a rough estimate of how much energy an air conditioner uses, but to get more specific, you’ll need to have information on the model you’re interested in. Once you know a model’s size in BTU, you can get an idea of how many watts of power it needs to run. To do a quick conversion from BTU to watts, just divide the AC’s size in BTU by 3. For example, if you have a 24,000-BTU air conditioner, its wattage would be around 8,000.
You can find a more precise rating by checking with the manufacturer of your AC. Some models of air conditioners will have a sticker on the side that tells you how many watts the machine uses. If your model’s sticker is missing that information, look up the user manual to find the wattage. In rare cases where the manufacturer doesn’t provide the unit’s wattage, they’ll at least give you the volts and amps of the machine. You can find wattage by multiplying volts times amps.
Stated Wattage Versus Running Wattage
Keep in mind that the wattage you see on an air conditioner isn’t the actual amount of energy it is always consuming. Air conditioners’ wattages are always listed as the maximum possible wattage. However, ACs use a lot more energy to start than they actually do to run. For example, an air conditioner listed as 3,000 watts might use power at a rate of 3,000 watts to start, but for the rest of its run time, it might be using far less.
To figure out an air conditioner’s running wattage, you’ll need to take into account typical air conditioner cycles that turn on, run for about 15 minutes, and turn off. Over the course of a typical cooling cycle, most AC units use about two-thirds of their total listed wattage. For example, a 1,000-watt AC could end up using 650 watts within a single hour of running.
Why AC Wattage Matters
Though wattage isn’t the most common AC feature for people to think about, it’s still useful to know. One of the big advantages of understanding your system’s wattage is that you can figure out how to power it correctly. Certain higher-watt models might draw too much power to run successfully on certain electrical systems. Furthermore, if the power goes out, you’ll need to know your system’s wattage to know whether or not your generator can run.
Wattage is also important because it allows you to estimate the cost of running an air conditioner. The number of watts your system uses directly relates to the amount of electricity you need to purchase. To calculate how much money you’ll spend, multiply the wattage by the number of hours you use the AC. Then, divide that number by 1,000 to get your air conditioner’s power consumption in kilowatt-hours. Kilowatt-hours are the standard power rating used by electric companies, so you can multiply that number by your electrical prices to get an estimate of how much money it costs to run an air conditioner.
Factors That Affect AC Wattage
There are many different factors that affect an air conditioner’s power consumption. Of course, a system’s size has the main impact on wattage. However, you also need to consider its construction. Modern ACs are often made to be more energy-efficient, so they can provide the same overall cooling at a lower wattage. Things like the year, brand, and model of the air conditioner unit will affect your wattage.
If your air conditioner has a variable fan speed, that also impacts wattage. Higher fan speeds will draw more energy, while lower speeds will require fewer watts. Another factor to consider is the type of air conditioner you have. Generally, ducted systems will use more power than options like window units or ductless mini-splits.
Tips for Reducing AC Energy Usage
When it comes to energy efficiency, there isn’t usually a way to adjust an existing air conditioner’s wattage. Some variable-speed models use less power at a lower speed, but to stay comfortable, you’ll often need to have the fan at a higher speed. The watts an AC requires to run usually remain the same regardless of your actions. Instead, if you want to save energy, you’ll need to alter the amount of time an AC runs. This ensures that it uses fewer watts throughout the day.
The most important thing you can do to reduce energy consumption is to select a higher temperature. By bumping your thermostat up a few degrees, you can keep your air conditioner from having to run as often. This can be a fast and easy way of lowering energy usage, especially if you get a programmable thermostat.
Another useful option is providing your house with more shade. Planting shrubs outside, using light-blocking curtains, and keeping your blinds drawn during the day will help to keep the sun from heating up your house and making more work for your AC. Finally, consider upgrading the insulation in your home. This keeps your cooled air from leaking out, so your house stays cool for longer. Even little things like sealing windows and doors can reduce the overall run-time of your AC.
Ultimately, knowing the wattage of your unit helps you determine how much power you are using so you can find ways to save. You can usually estimate how many watts your unit uses based on its size, or you can check the user manual for more details. If you have any questions about how it works, don’t forget that Absolute Services is here to help. Our team of experts can provide you with all sorts of helpful information on HVAC systems. We also provide heating, cooling, electrical, and plumbing service throughout Louisville, Lexington, and Elizabethtown. Give Absolute Services a call today to learn more.