How much does your window A/C really cost?

Air conditioning feels good.  Relaxing in an air-conditioned room on a sweltering summer day is truly wonderful.  Ceiling fans can also keep you cool, but they work differently.  Ceiling fans create a wind chill effect and can make a hot room feel better, but ceiling fans cannot lower the temperature of a room.  With these basic differences in mind, have you ever though about how much it really costs to own and use a window air conditioning unit?

8000 BTU window A/C unit

A normal window A/C unit from Sears costs about $350 and comes with the following specifications:

  • 8000 BTU
  • Electricity Consumption: 713 watts
  • 220 CFM (cubic feet per minute of airflow)
  • Designed for rooms up to 350 square feet (about 18' x 18')
  • Sound level: 57 decibels
  • $60 worth of cashback points

 Let's see what we get with a "normal" ceiling fan

  • no BTU rating
  • Electricity Consumption: 65 watts
  • 5079 CFM (cubic feet per minute of airflow)
  • Sound Level: silent
  • no rebate
  Price Rebate Usage Electricity Consumption Cost of Electricity (per month)
Window A/C (8000 BTU) $349.99 $60* 8 hrs/day for 30 days 713 watts

$50.40

 

Cheap Ceiling Fan $100 $0 8 hrs/day for 30 days 65 watts $4.68
Normal Ceiling Fan $299 $0 8 hrs/day for 30 days 65 watts $4.68
Energy Star Ceiling Fan $500 $0 8 hrs/day for 30 days 30 watts $2.16

 

Ceiling fans don't use much electricity compared to air conditioners.  While an Energy Star Rated fan is more efficient than a non-Energy Star Rated fan, using any ceiling fan instead of air conditioners will result in noticeably lower electricity bill. 

*The A/C cashback reward is REALLY good!  Until you read the fine print.  The $60 cashback will be split into 6 weekly payments of about $10 each.  Each $10 rebate is only valid for 1 week.  In order to get your entire $60 rebate, you need to go back to Sears and make at least 6 separate purchases worth $10 each.  That's a lot of work for a $60 rebate. 

A mid-grade ceiling fan costs about as much as a good window A/C unit.  However, when it comes to electricity consumption, a window air conditioner can cost $50.40 per month to use.  That's 10x as much electricity as a ceiling fan!  While you may think that a $349 A/C unit is a great deal and a $501 ceiling fan is out of your budget, in just 1 year, the electricity costs of running your $310 A/C unit can rise above the price of a high-end ceiling fan.  On top of that, every year, you could continue to pay over $300 in electricity costs for EACH window A/C in your home. 

Comparing Electricity Usage

Air Conditioner vs Ceiling Fans (cost comparison)

Here is a chart comparing our $349 window A/C to 3 different ceiling fans.  A lower dollar amount is better.

A Mid-Grade Ceiling Fan

Casablanca Wisp. Mid-grade, 52inch ceiling fan

The gray line is a good, mid-grade ceiling fan.  Not the most expensive, not the cheapest, and will provide excellent airflow.  The mid-grade ceiling fan starts out slightly cheaper than the A/C, but since it costs just pennies per day to run, 6 months of electricity is only about $27.90.

The Energy Star Rated Fan

Emerson Midway Eco LED. Top-grade, Energy Star Certifed ceiling fan

The yellow line is a top-grade, Energy Star Certified ceiling fan.  At $501, it is definitely not an impulse buy.  This Energy Star Certified fan is significantly stronger than the mid-grade ceiling fan and will keep large living rooms and family rooms cool while consuming only $2.16 of electricity in 1 month (less than half the electricity of a non-Energy Star Certified ceiling fan).

An Inexpensive Ceiling Fan

Emerson Builder. Inexpensive 52inch ceiling fan

The orange line is a cheap ceiling fan.  At $100, it is the lowest priced item in our comparison.  Electricity consumption is about the same as a mid-grade ceiling fan, but this grade of ceiling fan is rarely powerful enough to keep a large living room cool. 

The Air Conditioner

8000 BTU window air conditioner

Last, but not least, is the blue line, our window A/C.  Moderately priced, with an estimated monthly electricity cost of $50.40, the electricity costs are a serious concern and will continue to add up every year that you use it.  After just 6 months, the cost of your A/C and electricity could end being more than a top-grade ceiling fan. What will your electricity bill look like with multiple window air conditioners?

Our Verdict:

The simple answer is ceiling fans don't use very much electricity, while the ongoing costs of running an air conditioner can add up to a significant amount.  Deciding between an air conditioner and a ceiling fan will still depend on your individual situation and preferences  Where do you live and what is the temperature like?  What is your tolerance for hot weather?  What is your budget for cooling? 

Purchasing a good ceiling fan will go a long way towards keeping your electricity bill manageable.  If you have any questions about how to select a good ceiling fan for your home, give us a call, drop us an email, or come and visit The Fan Shop in Aiea. 

NOTE: This article uses electricity costs for Hawaii, 30 cents per killowatt-hour.  The U.S. national average is about 12 cents per kilowatt-hour.