Does Central Air Use a Lot of Electricity?

Posted: September 18, 2023

Estimating Your Monthly Cooling Expenses

No household in the Delaware Valley wants to be without air conditioning in the summertime. But, let’s face it, cooling costs can add up quickly when we’re dealing with multiple heat waves.

That’s why many people wonder, how much electricity does my air conditioner actually use? To get to that answer, we need to determine how many kilowatt hours (kWh) your central air conditioning systems consumes.

Your kilowatt usage will depend on a range of factors, including the capacity of the air conditioner (rated in BTU or tons) as well as its efficiency rating, measured as SEER.

Electric consumption is also influenced by how long your air conditioning system operates each day, the outdoor temperature. thermostat settings and the quality of your home’s insulation.

Here is one example to give you a general idea of how many kWh of electricity a central air conditioning system uses.

A typical 2,000 square-foot home usually needs a 36,000 BTU, or 3-ton, central A/C system. On average, this size cooling unit uses between 1.5 and 2.8 kWh of energy per hour. If an air conditioner of this size operates for eight hours a day, it would use between 360 and 650 kWh of energy each month. If you use 500 kWh per month, for example, you would need to multiply that number by the price your electric utility charges per kWh. Read more about how much electricity an A/C system uses.

While 360-650 kWh of energy each month may seem like a wide range, remember the variable factors that come into play, including the outdoor temperature, the insultation quality of your home, thermostat settings and the overall efficiency of your system. You also need to keep in mind that if you get an annual cooling tune-up, your unit will run more efficiently and save you up to 15% on your monthly energy bills. You will also extend the life of your cooling equipment by being diligent about annual maintenance.

In terms of the actual cost, the national average for electricity is 16.14 cents per kWh. In our region, the cost is slightly higher. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, as of May 2023, the average residential cost per kWh in Delaware is 16.65 cents, while in New Jersey it is 17.18 cents and it’s 18.26 cents per kWh in Pennsylvania.

Air Conditioning Replacement in PA, NJ and DE

If you think you’re spending too much money on repairs or your electric costs keep climbing every summer, consider replacing your central a/c system. Although there are exceptions, the performance and reliability of central air equipment usually deteriorates after 15 years.

Today’s high efficiency systems are as much as 60% more efficient than the models of yesteryear. This will drastically lower your utility bills. And that’s why the purchase of a new system is an investment with a return, not just an expense.

But like any investment, you have to do some research to make sure you make smart decisions. Here are some of the most common mistakes we’ve seen people make when they purchase a new central air conditioning system.

Please contact us to learn more about what you can expect from your A/C installation. We will be happy to provide you with a free estimate on your new air conditioning replacement system. We install all major cooling system brands, from high-efficiency central air conditioning systems to heat pumps, including mini-split ductless systems for more targeted comfort.