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Split system air conditioners: How much electricity do they really use?

With the cost of living on top of mind for most people in Adelaide and indeed across Australia, the last thing you want to do is install a heater or cooler that’s going to cost the earth to run. So how do split system air conditioners stack up for running costs? Do they use a lot of electricity and will you see your bills skyrocket?

What exactly are split system air conditioners?

Before looking at running costs, let’s take a quick look at what split system air conditioners are and provide basic information on how they work.

These units get their name because they have two major components that are ‘split’ between the inside and outside. The outside component contains the compressor, fan and other parts that do all the grunt work of creating cool air. The inside component, meanwhile, distributes the cool air and allows you to control settings, such as fan speed and temperature.

It’s important to point out that while split system air conditioners are widely regarded for their cooling capacity during hot weather, most can also provide heat (reverse cycle models). This makes the humble split system air conditioner a valuable asset all year round. Particularly in Adelaide, where the summers are hot and the winters cold.

What exactly are split system air conditioners?

Are split system air conditioners expensive to run?

Do split system air conditioners use a lot of electricity and are they expensive to run? 

If you’re looking for a single word response then the answer is simple and it’s no. Split system air conditioners are surprisingly cheap to run. Of course the detailed answer is a little more complex, so let’s take a look at the factors that go into deciding how much your split system will cost to run.

The most common factors that will influence running costs are:

  • The size or capacity of your split system air conditioner in kW or kilowatts. Larger units will cost more to run
  • What temperature you set on the unit. For cooling, lower temperatures will cost you more and vice-a-versa for heating.
  • The price you’re paying for your electricity.
  • How long you use your unit for.
  • While all units are relatively efficient, another factor is the energy rating. All split system air conditioners sold in Australia are required to display energy rating labels. When choosing a unit, buy one with the most stars that you can afford.

Canstar Blue estimates that in Adelaide, you can expect to pay between around $62 for a small unit and $151 a year to run a large split system air conditioner for cooling purposes. When it comes to heating, the estimated cost is between $117 for a small unit and $227 for a large unit.

Compare these costs to other alternative heating and cooling sources, particularly whole of house ducted air conditioning and ducted heating, and the split system air conditioner looks even more attractive!

In fact, CHOICE has shown that split system air conditioners are even cheaper to run than portable air conditioners. In a finding that may surprise some people, they found that portable air conditioners aren’t as effective and can cost twice as much to run as the split system.

Match the capacity to your room size

One of the things mentioned as a key influence on running costs was the size or capacity of the split system air conditioner that you buy and then install. This is measured in kW or kilowatts and is clearly marked on units that are sold.

While smaller split systems will use less energy than bigger systems, don’t make the mistake of simply choosing the smallest unit you can find. When you are purchasing a unit, you need to match it to the size of the space you want to cool or heat. Otherwise, if you put a small unit in a large space, it won’t do the job effectively or efficiently. On the other hand, you don’t need a large unit in a small space and therefore the initial outlay will be more than you need to spend.

As a guide, a split system air conditioner of around 2 to 2.5 kW should be perfect in a small space. In a medium sized room, a system of around 2.5 kW to 5kW. And in a larger room, choose a unit of around 6 kW.

Adelaide Urban Electrical installs split system air conditioners

Running costs are just one component of the full cost of split systems. There’s also the cost of purchasing the unit and the cost to install it.

When it comes to installation, Adelaide Urban Electrical are your best choice in and around the Adelaide area. We are affordable, local and professional and have a transparent pricing policy. We can also offer advice on the best unit for your needs.

To keep cool in summer and warm in winter with a split system air conditioner, give us a call 0488 488 988. Alternatively, go to our contact page to organise a quote.

Note: For more information on split system air conditioners, see our AC Systems page.

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