AC Power Consumption – Balancing Performance and Energy Savings

In today’s life, Air Conditioner (AC) is a must device in our homes, offices, etc. With the climate being unpredictable and smacking hot, an AC seems a necessity. 

Nowadays summer months are extremely hot. And these can make anyone’s life miserable but air conditioners give us a sigh of relief in this scorching heat. The cooling revolution that air conditioners brought to humans has revolutionized the way of living in the home.

AC Power Consumption

But with ACs we are also paying very high electricity bills. So in this article, we will discuss all the ways you can save your electricity bills. Along with the factors which are affecting the AC power consumption. 

Once you go through the article you will be amazed. Because you will learn how to enjoy having minimal AC power consumption. And you can practically apply those solutions in your home.

How AC Works?

If we all want to lessen our electricity bill and minimize power consumption. We should understand each and every aspect related to the mechanism of AC. So let’s get started.

Basically, an AC collects hot air from the room, processes it to release cool air back into the same room. This ‘processing’ is done by using many components like evaporator, compressor, condenser, expansion valve, refrigerants. Let’s get into some more technicality of this process.

After switching on an AC, the desired temperature is set which is read by the thermostat. It senses that there is a difference in the temperature of the room’s air and the set temperature. The blower draws in the warm air through a grille. Then flows over some pipes (evaporator) through which the refrigerant (i.e., a coolant fluid) is flowing. 

Thereby, the liquid refrigerant after absorbing the heat of the air becomes a hot gas. And that’s the process by which the heat is removed which further falls on the evaporator coils. These coils perform two functions that are dehumidifying the ambience of your room and absorbing the heat.

Now, this hot refrigerant gas is then passed on to the compressor, and it compresses the gas. So that it becomes hot since compressing a gas increases its temperature. The aforementioned gas then moves to the third component i.e. Condenser that condenses it. Then the gas becomes a liquid.

Because the heat of the ‘hot gas’ is dissipated to the surroundings through metal fins. And the refrigerant starts leaving the condenser. Hence, losing the heat and thereafter becomes a cooler liquid. This liquid then flows through a fitted expansion valve alongside. 

This is a tiny hole present in the system’s copper tubing. Its function is to take care of the cool liquid refrigerant flow into the evaporator. So, the refrigerant is at the point where it started its journey.

Factors Affecting The AC Power Consumption

Compressors

A compressor is one of the components which consumes a lot of power which increases the electricity bill.

Standard or normal compressors are used earlier extensively. But they are not that cost-effective as compare to the new technology of inverter compressors. Standard compressors work on the principle of the on-off cycle. In a normal compressor, the compressor unloads (or shuts off) once the desired output is obtained.

It has the option to run either at full or somewhat minimum speed. The speed of the non-inverter compressor normal compressor is fixed. For example, a user has set the temperature of 20°C. When the AC reached the temperature of 20 °C set by the user. The compressor shut down entirely on its own.

And again the temperature increases from the previous set temperature i.e. 20°C, the compressor again begins to serve its purpose. Note that when the compressor starts again, it draws a high starting current. That is undesirable and adds to the electrical energy costs. This hard on-off cycle creates a burden on our shoulders by increasing our bills.

How does an inverter compressor work?

However, an inverter compressor, also known as Variable Speed Drive or Variable Frequency Drive, is a revolutionary change in the field of compressors. They are much cost-effective than previously used normal compressors. These compressors need not start again and again to maintain the desired temperature.

The speed of these types of compressors is varied according to the desired temperature. They are processing smartly by adjusting their speed. This compressor would reduce its speed after attaining the desired temperature. Instead of shutting down completely and increase the speed as the temperature goes up.

This helps in reducing restarting current costs, as a result of lowering AC power consumption. Hence, the saving here is approximately 30-40 percent. 

The Temperature

What should be the optimum required temperature of your room? Does it have any effect on power consumption? Can temperature variations in the room help us in getting lower electricity bills? In the next section, you are going to get answers to these questions.

The power used in AC for maintaining the desired temperature depends mainly on the initial temperature of the room. If the room temperature is comparatively high, the AC would take more power to reduce the temperature. Further maintains it to that level. A low-temperature setting is recommended after switching on the AC. Then move it up a little afterwards, once sufficient cooling is achieved.

To use the non-inverter ACs efficiently (somewhat cheaper than invertor ACs). You should have a proper understanding.

What is a thermostat?

Another thing that impacts the power consumption of AC is the thermostat. The main role of an AC thermostat is to regulate the temperature within the room to attain the desired temperature. When the desired temperature is attained, non-inverter AC or compressors break off their power. And switched off completely but what compels them to do so? 

The answer is simple i.e. thermostat. Don’t confuse with the functioning of the thermostat as it does not cool the air. But it stops the compressor from its functioning after the temperature reaches the desired level. After that fan is responsible for blowing the air which is circulating in the evaporator region. And once the fans take over the compressor, the energy consumption is reduced certainly. 

As advised, slightly higher temperatures should be set such as 24°C. This temperature is generally perfect for the majority of people, providing the right amount of cooling in a given space. If you set a lower temperature, then the compressor has to work continuously for a longer period of time. That consequently results in higher power consumption. Hence, our purpose of lowering power consumption will not be fulfilled.

An Air conditioner with a smart thermostat is a good choice for you. Actually, these smart thermostats have the feature to be used with home automation. And these are responsible for three functions i.e., ventilation of the house, air conditioning and also home’s heating. These types of thermostats just use the data available and embedded sensors. For making your room temperature suitable for you. Simultaneously save electricity without any performance cutting.

Can Maintenance Really Help in Cost Cutting?

You will be amazed to know the proper maintenance of your ACs can save you from your increasing bills in the summer. Air filters and ducts should be cleaned regularly for proper cooling of the AC. As a result, it will save energy.

For example, if you don’t service your AC then air filters will be clogged due to dirt. Also, the blocked air ducts will constrict the airflow. As a result, ACs have to work harder on their mechanism, forcing it to use more power to work. 

Leakage in Refrigerants is another problem. Refrigerants are used to cool the air and dehumidify the indoor air. If somehow the AC forms a leak. It will fail in the desired functioning of AC with major temperature fluctuations.

This is because of the shortage of refrigerants. In short, cooling will not be that effective. Alongside, it will increase the load on the AC. It would be better to get your AC service done by a technician. (who will fix the leak and also make sure everything functions correctly)

Window or Split?

split system is ‘split’ into two units: one that’s inside, and one that’s outside. There are many advantages of installing a split AC over a window AC.  A split AC is easy to set up as there is no ductwork needed to install. They are designed for cooling larger spaces. These systems are known for being quiet and energy-efficient as they have better EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio). 

Window AC

The ERR is the measure of the cooling an AC provides on consuming the one-watt electricity. 

“Star Rating” of your AC directly depends on the ERR. The outdoor condenser units are designed in a manner that is easy to access during maintenance and repair. Most of the split air conditioner has an additional heating capability. They have an elegant and attractive design that blends properly with the indoor décor.

Which One is Better in Terms of Energy Consumption?

One type of AC is a Window air conditioner, which also goes by the name Room air conditioner. These are basic and modest-looking and are mounted on the windows. The window air conditioner includes a single unit. where all of its working and essential components are fitted in a case. 

In comparison, the split ACs are obviously the better choice over Windows AC in the Energy efficiency department. Additionally, the ERR value of the split AC is always better than Window AC. Talking of power, the split ACs are way ahead of Windows one. Also, split ACs are technically advanced.

Also read: Split AC vs Window AC

Definitively, prices of split AC are on the higher side as compare to the window AC. But split AC assures less power consumption.

Upgrading Your AC System to Increase Efficiency

Upgrading the old model into the new one only by changing some of its old parts. Using additional vents or replacing the condenser boosts the energy savings. Which will definitely act as a cost-cutter on our electricity bills.

The dependency of External Factors 

Till now, we discussed the main parts of the AC which influence power consumption. And now we will discuss the external factors which play a vital role to save our power consumption. 

Room Size

The first factor is room size. You have to be very careful in buying the correct tonnage of AC according to your room size. For example, if your room size is very small and you have bought AC with high tonnage. It will increase power consumption, as well as the potential of the AC, gets wasted. Another example like you have a spacious room which requires AC with more tonnage. And you have bought AC with low tonnage then it is not worthy as it has to do more efforts than its capacity. Hence, an AC of inadequate tonnage has to spend more power.

Living Location

The second factor is the living location. Because India is a country where one finds different types of weather in different parts of India. And as you know more hot weather (Chennai, Kerala, etc.) or high humidity (Kolkata or Mumbai) leads to more work for the compressor and vice versa is true. More work for the compressor leads to more power consumption.

No. of People

The third factor is the number of people who are residing in a particular room. As the human body emits heat by itself, the AC has to cool the body down as well. More people, more work has done by the AC. Hence, more power consumption. For example, 1.5-ton AC is required in 150s sq. room for 4-5 people to provide sufficient cooling. But, if there’s a large number of people in the room, like a coaching class with 10-12 people. Then 2-ton AC will sufficiently make the cooling more efficient.

Conclusion

Choosing the best AC for yourself is a tough decision but it will become easier when you know. 

-How much energy your AC will consume.

-It will be appropriate for your home or your surroundings.

-Better understanding of AC power consumption so that fewer bills you have to pay.

Say for instance, if you purchased a cheap AC. It will consequently end up paying a lot of money in the form of long electricity bills. Nevertheless, if you purchase a decent AC and use it efficiently. It will give you a fulfilling experience despite the higher price tag.

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