Last Updated Sep 14, 2018 · Written by Craig Gibson
A ducted air conditioning system can make your house far more comfortable to live in, but its running costs can be uncomfortable to live with. Learn about ducted air conditioning running costs and live comfortably with your air con system and your energy bills.
If you are looking for an efficient way of getting cool air to all points in your home, ducted air conditioning is more efficient than other cooling systems. It is more effective at cooling large areas than other split systems. And if you are worried about noise or unsightly air con units on your wall - ducted is unobtrusive and very quiet. However, if you are only looking to cool one or two rooms a wall mounted split air conditioning system is likely to be more suitable.
You needn't wait until after your system is installed to know how much its running costs are likely to be. The Energy Star label or documentation that comes with an air conditioning system should list the system's "power input" in kilowatts. Power input is the amount of energy it takes to run the system. To find out how much your running costs will be, simply multiply this number by the kilowatt hour (kWh) cost on your last energy bill. This will give you the cost per hour of running your ducted air conditioner.
If power input is not listed, look for EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) and cooling capacity numbers. EER is calculated by multiplying cooling capacity by power input, so to discover the power input, divide EER by the cooling capacity. For example, a 10 kilowatt (kW) air conditioner has a cooling capacity of 10kW. If it has an EER of 3.8, its power input will be a little over 2.6. If your local kWh cost is 20 cents, your ducted air conditioning system might cost 52 cents per hour to run. Note that this example is designed to show you how to calculate running costs only. Depending on the cost of energy in your area and the capacity of your system, your running cost per hour can be lower or higher than this.
For an idea of ducted air conditioning running costs, and assuming an electricity usage rate of 35c/kWh you can expect to outlay in the region of $3/hour to keep cool in summer, and $1.85/hour to stay warm in winter. These figures will also depend on the energy efficiency of your system and how many zones or rooms you want cooled/heated.
Take the time to think if you really need to cool the entire house every time you use your air conditioner? If not, consider buying a zone system. Zone systems do cost more than standard ducted systems, but allow you to cool as many or few rooms at a time as you like. Just doing this can dramatically lower your ducted air conditioning running costs without sacrificing your personal comfort, especially in a larger home with several bedrooms.
The energy rating of your ducted unit will also play a big part in the overall running costs. There is a significant cost difference between a 2.5 star rated unit and a 6 star rated ducted system. The smaller unit will actually be more costly to run. So it makes sense to opt for the larger unit, which will be more energy efficient and cost effective over time.
The running cost you arrive at may come as a shock to you, but before you give up on the idea of buying a ducted air conditioning system, remember there are ways to reduce running costs:
Each degree Celsius can reduce or increase running costs between 10 and 15 percent. If you set your thermostat at 23 degrees Celsius, your house may be comfortably cool, but it will still be comfortable at 25 degrees and you will be reducing your running costs 20 to 30 percent.
When it comes time to hire an installer you need to make sure they are right for your job. Some questions to ask them include:
You need to use properly trained and licensed installers for your job. Anyone who handles refrigerants and installs air conditioning units must hold a licence issued by the Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC). Depending on where you live this could be a ducted air conditioning installer, plumber or an electrician.
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Get several quotes for ducted air conditioning will help you get the best ducted air conditioning price, and reputable suppliers should be for systems of roughly the same capacity. If one quote is for a drastically lower capacity system, it may be because the supplier is trying to win the job.
You will probably notice that different systems of the same capacity will have different prices. Before choosing the lowest quote, look at all the quotes carefully and ask why their package cost more or less than the others. One might be quoting for a more expensive, but also more cost-effective inverter system while anothers quote may be for a more basic system. You also need to check what the warranty is on any system you are considering purchasing.