# AIR CONDITIONING COST

Air conditioning is responsible for over 50% of your electric bill in Santa Clarita during the summer, so it might not come as a shock to you that one of our most common questions is, how much does it cost to run an air conditioner?  The answer can be a bit in-depth.  In order to figure out how much it costs to run your air conditioner, you will first need to become familiar with a few basic HVAC terms and concepts.  For those of you just looking for a quick answer, I will tackle the topic of how much it costs to run your air conditioner in three different sections: HVAC concepts you must know to make this calculation, a quick rule-of-thumb way to make a cost calculation, and part three will be the in-depth, advanced calculation of how to figure out how much it costs to run your air conditioner. ## Air Conditioning Terms and Concepts for Calculating Cost

Before we can tackle the cost of running an air conditioner, we first have to become familiar with a few of the terms and concepts we will use to make the calculation.  Don’t worry – this will stay very gentlemanly and easygoing.

### BTUs

A BTU stands for British Thermal Unit, which is the unit that is used in air conditioning and heating to measure the cooling power of an air conditioner.  Simply put, one BTU is the amount of energy that is required for your air conditioner to cool one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.  So how many BTUs does your air conditioner come in at?  That is one of the things that you have to figure out, but it’s easier than you think: all you have to know is the size of your air conditioner.

Subject Your air conditioner is measured in ‘tons.’  One ton is equal to 12,000 BTUs of cooling power. So, if you have a three ton unit (the average sized unit in Santa Clarita, California) then your air conditioner has 36,000 BTUs of cooling power:

3 tons X 12,000 BTUs/ton = 36,000 BTUs

If you don’t know what size your air conditioner is, you can just Google your model and number which is listed on the tag and it will tell you.

### Ampere

An Ampere is a unit of measurement used to measure how many electrons (electricity) have passed a single point in a given unit of time.  If you want to nerd-out on Amperes, visit the Wiki site: Ampere, but one Ampere (aka an ‘Amp’) is a really large, fixed number of electrons (6.241X10^18) crossing a circuit in one second.  It’s a measure of how much electricity is flowing.

### Watt

A Watt is defined as one Joule of energy per second, and is the amount of energy actually transferred over time.  Again, we don’t need to go too in depth for today’s discussion but if you want to, feel free to on the Wiki page: Watt.  1,000 Watts is known as a “Kilowatt.”

### Volt

A Volt is simply a measure of the electric potential between two points on a wire.  That’s all you really need to know, but if you want to be technical, it is the amount of electric potential between two points when one Amp moves one Watt worth of electricity between those two points.

So why the heck is this painful flashback to high school physics necessary?  Because I need to introduce you to something that you have probably already heard of, but never fully understood: the Kilowatt-Hour, which you will be using to calculate the cost of running an air conditioner.

### Kilowatt-Hour

Now that you know what a Kilowatt is, you can figure out that a Kilowatt-Hour is just the number of Kilowatts used in one hour.  This is the basis for how your electricity usage is measured.  That little meter on the side of your house and the numbers on your electric bill are all Kilowatt-Hours, and now that you know what it is, you will be able to figure out how much it will cost to run an air conditioner.