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Reduce your Electric Bill with a Window Air Conditioner

Reduce your Electric Bill with a Window Air Conditioner

Posted on Jul 29, 2008 by Author

Introduction


Our house is newer ( built in 2005 ).  So of course you would think that maybe it would have newer stuff.  Wiring, Appliances, and most of all a newer AC unit.  Well it turns out that with most newer homes one of the things builders skimp out on is a high efficiency AC unit.  After reading the sticker on ours I found that it was a 10 SEER unit.  The year after our house was build the lowest that could be installed in a new home was raised to 12 SEER by federal law.  Our Utility costs are about 15 cents / KWH.  Last month we went through over 2000 KWH.  I am not sure if Global warming is to blame but one thing I did notice was the average temperature for the month of June was 94 degrees,  compared to 88 degrees last year.  We used 600 KWH more this June than last. 

What is a KWH?


For those of you who don't have a concept of what a KWH is here is an explanation.  Its basically how many 1000 watts you consume in 1 hour.  Lets say you have a 60 watt light bulb. And you leave it on 24 hours a day.  This bulb consumers .06 KWH.  This times how many hours you leave it on will give you your KWH usage. Utility companies charge per KWH.  This rate can vary from 4 cents up to over 25 cents / KWH.  Here in Texas we pay about 15 cents / KWH. 

The Problem


By far the biggest consumer of electricty is your home's Central Air Conditioner.  After doing some research I figured that this was the cause of our high electric bills.  Unlike many, both me and my wife work out of the home.  Since we both work out of the home we don't have the luxury of turning down the AC during the day.  But then the problem is not so much that we have home offices, but it is that I like it to stay around 72 and my wife is comfortable at 75.  My office is towards the front of the house, while hers is at the back.  Now the question is why should I keep 2000 SQFT of house 72 degrees when I only need about 150 SQFT ( my office ) to be comfortable during the day.  After talking with some people, I realized that we could benefit from upgrading our home's Air Conditioning unit, but this would cost around 8K-12K.  This would cut our electric bill in half, but it would take several years to make up the difference.  I also looked at installing solar panels, and or a wind Turbine to make up the difference. But each of these options were more expensive than just upgrading our home's AC unit.

The Solution


The conclusion I came to was that the only solution was to install a dedicated window air conditioner in my office.  I had browsed some stores online to get a feel of the cost.  I found the perfect little unit at Sams Club.  It was a GE 6000 BTU Window unit that cost about $148.  The unit came with a digital display, remote control, and all installation hardware.  The installation was easy.  The unit has a special energy saving mode, to help keep energy usage to a minimum.  It also has more than enough cooling power for my little office.

GE Window Air Conditioner

How much Power does it use?


One of the biggest concerns I had was how much power would it consume?  I used my Kilawatt meter to see.  When the fan is going it uses 50-60 watts.  When the compressor is on it uses 500-650 watts.  I have the meter running on it to track what its total usage is within 24 hours.  This will help me guage how much it will cost me to operate this for the month.  Of course by using this instead of Central Air Conditioning, should save me a bundle.  I estimate this window unit will pay for itself in 1 month.

GE Window Air Conditioner

Update


After tracking the usage for 24 hours. ( 14 hours  on ).  and with my thermostat set to 72, the unit consumed 4.46 KWH.
If we multiple this by 30 days in a month we get 133.8 KWH.  Times my utility rate of 15 cents / KWH = $20.07.
So on average to run this unit in my office 14 hours / day it should cost me about $20 / month.
Killawatt on window Air conditioner

Yesterday I was at Lowes. and I noticed they have a window AC unit for under $100.  It didn't have any of the cool features like energy saver, or digital display or a remote control, but it might get the job done.  If you have a membership at Sams Club, you can't go wrong with the GE brand window air conditioners. 



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Discussion

mojavi | Aug 30, 2008 10:23 PM
we had the smae problem this year with a rental house. Our electric bill has been 500.00 a month we used 3000 last month!!! I started recording how much the ac used a day and it was 100-90 a day. SO we got two window units. I am anxious to see how much we use by morning. Also the owner refuses to replace the AC unit! ugg
paul | Aug 30, 2008 10:39 PM
mojavi, I hear ya!  Even though our house has a 10 SEER central AC unit ( not very efficient ) our bills were never quite this bad last year.  Last month reliant raised us from 15.4 cents / KWH to 16.9 KWH. Now we are looking to find a new provider as that is just too high to pay.  Here is our current setup for our house.  We still use the central AC but we have the thermostat set at 78 24/7  instead of 72(day) and 68 ( night ).  Then we have installed a window AC unit in both my office and our bedroom.  The AC unit in my office is a 9.8 EER GE unit rated at 6,000 BTU( in the picture ) above.  The one in our bedroom is a 10.8 EER GE unit rated at 8,000 BTU.  During the day I run the office unit and keep it around 72 ( which can almost get too cold at times ).  The bed room unit we run at 68 all night long.  I have been reading our meter daily.  I am now only using 30-37 KWH / day.  At this rate my total monthly usage will be down to 1100 KWH.  I highly recommend anyone who is looking for a way to reduce their energy costs to consider window units.

Sorry to hear about your Landlord not replacing the AC unit.  Even if the owner did replace it, I am willing to bet that a window unit would use less electricity.  Good luck and let me know how it works out for you.  I will be posting my bills for before and after comparisions after my next bill comes in sometime around the 17th of this month.
Shelly | Feb 12, 2009 7:15 PM
If you live in a climate that the temperature at night is pretty cool compared to the day time temperature - try a whole house fan - it will cool the living space and attic space at the same time- I learned that your house stats hot because the attic is hot - I bought one at www.wholehousefan.com - LOVE IT!! saved me about $150.00 a month on my electric ---
Helen | Aug 18, 2010 12:23 PM
We bought 2 window ac units and quit using our central air and yesterday we got our electric bill and it was exactly cut in half.  No more central air for us.
Cindi | Jun 10, 2011 6:22 PM
Love this article!  This is just the kind of info I was looking for!  I just got a window unit for my office because I work at home too.  I live in Texas, and had been keeping my central A/C set on 72 cooling the whole house all day long.  Since I spend most of my time in my office, I now set the thermostat on 78 and use my little 5000 BTU window unit during the day.  It keeps it very comfortable in here.  I can't wait to see how much money this saves me.  I paid $99 dollars for this one at Home Depot.  It doesn't have a remote or a digital display.  I keep the fan on low and the cooling on the 4 or 5 setting. 
john | May 14, 2012 9:58 PM
thanks man....this was exactly what i was looking for. i live with a large household, some not willing to pay to keep the house cold, so i am going to keep my room cold....i love the kilowatt usage meter...i just ordered one from amazon....25 bucks...well worth the tracking ability of my bills....so once again....thanks
Vince | May 28, 2012 4:26 PM
I am a single father, having my daughter 2 days each week. I live in a 60 foot trailer, and was having monthly electric bills of $300 and above each month in the summer. I have moved the television and my recliner into the spare bedroom, and put in a 5000 btu window ac. When my daughter isn't with me, I cool ONLY this room, and use it both as my day time office, and sleep there at night. I can only imagine that this will save me close to $1000 or more this summer alone. The ac unit cost $109.
Mike | Jul 11, 2012 9:43 AM

One of our central air units went out (leaking at the coil drip pan), and it's over $1,000 to replace.  The system only cools our kitchen, familyroom, and on small bathroom, and another room that is used as storage only.  We bought a 8,000BTU unit to keep the family room cooled, and didn't realize it is cooling the entire 600 square feet.  It doesn't run all the time, when in energy efficient mode, and auto.  We have spent up towards $400+/month when running both central air systems, and the house never really cools down.  With the window unit and the other central air system unit (cools living room, 4 bedrooms and full bathroom) the entire house is much more comfortable, even during 90F plus days. We have it set for 80F.  I can't wait to see the savings just from doing this.  I think you have to be foolish to burn money with central air.  A lot of the cooling is wasted anyway.
I love this article and all the feedback.

Home page | Feb 13, 2013 9:06 AM
I definitely agree with Shelly. If you have a climate that does not require an AC in the evening then you might want to use an electric fan. And during daytime, try to open your windows and let the air come in or try switching the AC on and time it. This will actually help you minimize the usage of AC.
james braselton | Aug 4, 2013 11:18 AM
hi there the ac unit will be 8,000 btu ac with a 5 kw generator soo all i need is gas money
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