How Much It Costs To Run an Air Conditioning Unit (Compared to Other Appliances)

Air conditioners are necessary for most homes, even in temperate climate zones. In terms of beating the summer heat, especially down here in Australia, one can hardly imagine life without one. It’s only natural that homeowners should wonder about the costs of running them versus other appliances.

Most people believe the costs of running an air conditioner are higher than any other appliance in the home. Some estimates say it accounts for between 33 and 50 per cent of electricity bills. But is that the case?

Let’s compare the average air conditioning running cost to other appliances and see which costs the most.

The Costs of Running Your Air Conditioner

Air conditioner costs depend entirely on the climate of your city. Since Australia has a varied environment, we’ll be going over air conditioner costs by breaking them down between hot, moderate, and cold temperatures.

To calculate average costs per hour, we’ll use the national energy price average of $0.325/kWh to get a reasonably even price range. We will also base these costs on a standard reverse cycle air conditioner with the capacity to cool a room of about 25 square metres.

Hot Climates

Homes in warmer climates will incur relatively high costs since AC units must work harder to cool them. In cities like Brisbane, the average price to cool a standard room is about $3.22 per hour.

This price is much higher than in other, more moderate cities, where the cost of heating rooms drops because temperatures are generally milder throughout the year. Heating the same size room in the winter months costs an average of $0.16 an hour.

Moderate Climates

Moderate cities have less extreme climates, so air conditioners don’t need to work hard to cool them. Cities on the milder side include Sydney, Adelaide, and Perth. The average cost to cool homes in these cities is about $1.11 an hour.

Heating homes in these cities yields a higher cost, though it is still lower for the whole year than in other climates. The average hourly price for heating homes in such cities is about $1.50.

Cold Climates

Homes in colder climates see savings during summer but have high heating costs during winter. Cities with cold temperatures include Melbourne, Hobart, and Canberra. The price to cool a home in one of these places during the summer is about $0.70 an hour.

Heating these homes costs much more than in any other climates mentioned here because the temperatures get lower in these cities, and the colder weather lasts longer. The average hourly cost to heat these homes in the winter is $4.06 an hour!

Comparing These Average Costs

While some of the above figures may seem startling, the most extreme prices only last during peak months of summer and winter. Also, they don’t operate at those rates all day—only during the hottest or coldest parts of a 24-hour cycle.

The average price to run an air conditioner based on the above prices is between $1.45 and $2.12 an hour. Also, an air conditioner runs about 12 to 16 hours a day on average, so you aren’t paying those costs for 24-hour cycles. ActronAir has Australia’s best zoning, allowing you to focus on the rooms you’re using and not bother with the rooms you’re not. Head to the Better Efficiency page to see the Zoning calculator to see the impact it can have to your power bill.

The Costs of Running Other Appliances

The average air conditioning running cost is high during the deep summer months. However, many other appliances run for longer periods during the day and cost more when they run.

We’ve split the following appliances into groups based on their location and general usage. Let’s look at the various appliances in the average home and see how their costs line up with those of an AC unit.

Kitchen Appliances

The kitchen contains various appliances that cost quite a bit to run. Microwaves, for example, cost an average of $0.41 an hour. Most people only use their microwaves for a few minutes a day, but if you frequently reheat leftovers or defrost meat, expect higher costs from this kitchen mainstay.

The stove and oven are two of the most expensive appliances in the home, besides the AC. The stove can cost $0.84 an hour to run, while the oven can be as much as $1.33 an hour. Most people use their stoves regularly, so you can count on the stove making up a sizable portion of your energy bill.

Cleaning Appliances

Some cleaning appliances, such as a vacuum and an iron, cost only about $0.60 an hour and barely run during a typical day. The dryer, however, is one the costliest appliances. It costs as much as $3.14 an hour to run and runs for most of a laundry day.


Lighting your house is another costly form of energy consumption, running anywhere between $0.24 and $1.68 an hour. Generally speaking, the variations in cost depends on the kind of lighting you use.

Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are very cheap to run. They only cost about $0.04 an hour because their motors are very efficient. During comfortable days, you will save money if you turn off your air conditioner and run your ceiling fans instead.

What Costs the Most?

The air conditioner is still the most expensive appliance given the time it takes to run and Australia’s constantly fluctuating temperatures. However, it doesn’t beat other appliances by much, only costing about 33% of energy bills at most.

Efficiently Cool Your Home With ActronAir

At ActronAir, we are an Australian-owned and operated company and we believe in supplying every customer with the best air conditioners and air quality in Australia. We know the weather here is highly unpredictable, so we feel that our air conditioner units should be able to keep up with any temperature changes nature throws our way. We design and build air conditioners with these capabilities in mind.

Replacing your old AC unit with one of ours always helps reduce the costs of running air conditioning in your home. Call ActronAir at 1300 522 722 to get a quote on a new AC unit and to find out about our other products and services.



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