How Much Electricity Does a Portable AC Use?

How much electricity does a portable AC use? Well, you’ll be surprised to know that they are cost-efficient if used properly. Read on to learn more about it.
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Have you ever wondered how much electricity your portable AC uses? Are you instead looking to purchase a portable AC unit and want to know the cost before you make a decision? Whichever it is, we’re here to help. When you purchase a home appliance you probably do that because you need one; however, it is important for you to know how much it will cost you. To find out how much energy a portable AC unit uses and what you can do to save money on your electricity bill, keep on reading. 

How Much Does It Cost to Run a Portable AC?


A portable AC unit is measured in British Thermal Units or BTU. If an AC unit has higher BTU output, the more powerful the system is. If you want to know specifically how much it costs to run a portable AC, follow the chart below so you can see at a glance BTUs converted into energy, and then we’ll take care of the cost.

12,000 BTU1,410 watts
11,000 BTU1,300 watts
10,000 BTU1,300 watts
9,000 BTU1.060 watts
8,000 BTU940 watts

Using a portable AC unit of any size—small, medium, or large—for about 8 hours a day would cost you anywhere from $2.84 to $5.31. If you count this for a whole month, the total cost would be anywhere from $85.20 to $159.30.

What Can Cause a Portable AC to Use More Electricity Than Needed?

Like all home appliances you regularly use, you want to make sure that you’re getting your money’s worth by using them as efficiently as possible. Portable AC units are no exception when it comes to situations where we use more electricity than needed, but luckily we have some helpful tips at the end of the article on how to save money using portable AC units. But before we do that, let’s dive into the reasons why your portable AC might use more electricity than needed.

A water leak

If there is a water leak in your portable AC unit, this will, unfortunately, decrease its cooling system efficiency. An air conditioner, including a portable one, converts hot air into cool air, which involves water vapor. An efficient portable AC unit collects the remainder of the moisture into a reservoir that should drain itself without you having to intervene. So when the AC unit can no longer drain the water itself, it will start to leak, therefore working twice as hard to cool an area and therefore using more energy than needed.

Dirty filters


Aside from the air that portable AC units gather, they can also gather dust, debris, and other particles in the air, which can all get stuck in the filters. Luckily, that is the filter’s function, not to spread all of those particles in the air you breathe. However, if left unchecked, those filters can get really dirty over time and thus, will not cool the area efficiently. 

Manually increasing the temperature

Manually increasing the temperature can also be another reason why your portable AC unit might use more energy than needed. You should take advantage of the automatic cooling system so you don’t need to increase the temperature, or only increase it when it is necessary. For example, you may start at 78 degrees Fahrenheit or 25°C, and then gradually decrease the temperature if needed.

How to Save Money Using a Portable AC Unit

Now that you know the reasons why your portable AC unit might cost you more money, let’s discuss the many, helpful tips you can implement to save money while using a portable AC unit. Every home appliance you buy will cost you money, but the good news is that technology is always improving to make these appliances easier and more convenient. Let’s take a look at the four effective ways to save money using a portable AC unit.

Target a room at a time

Whether you live in a house or a small apartment, using your portable AC unit to cool one room at a time is way more efficient and affordable than leaving it to cool all of the spaces. If you think about it, you may not be using all of the rooms anyway, so you might as well just cool the one you’re currently using. For example, if you’re spending all day working from home in your living room office, have the AC unit there. Then, when you go to sleep at night, simply move the AC unit to your bedroom to keep you cool in your room rather than cool the whole house. Cooling one room at a time will not only save you money, but it’s also environmentally friendly.

Buy the right one for your space

If you purchase a portable AC unit with higher BTU output, that can also save you money. If for instance, you live in a bigger space, say a house, purchasing a portable AC unit with a higher BTU output will cool the area faster because the system is more powerful. This will make the appliance more efficient, rather than buying one with lower BTU output for a big space that would need to run all day and spend more energy to cool the area.

Choose one with multi-purpose abilities

Another great way to save money on a portable AC unit is to purchase one that can do more than cooling areas. A lot of portable AC units are also heaters, which, if you live in a place where you experience all four seasons, can be very useful, particularly during the cold months. Some portable AC units are also dehumidifiers that are used to remove moisture from indoor air, which can be a great setting to improve your home health.

Use smart features


The extra little devices that come with portable air conditioners are more helpful than one might think. Some great features include the ability to control the unit from your own smartphone, which is time-saving and helpful. Another great feature for example is the programmable timer: this little device can help you set the time when the AC unit will be turned on and off. This is helpful, particularly for those who may be more forgetful. If you’re so tired at night, that you might forget to switch the unit off, having a timer can definitely save you money. 

The Bottom Line

Portable ACs can be a game-changer in the summer, and if used properly, they can be considered cost-efficient.  If you are considering purchasing one, you can always consult with professionals in order to find the one that would best suit your needs and space.

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