12 Practical Ways to Save Electricity for Air Conditioner


There are many ways to save electricity for your air conditioners. But, which ways are the most effective and practical to save electricity?

In a hot weather country like Malaysia, the air conditioner accounted for more than 50% of the total electricity bill in most of the houses. Therefore, focusing the energy saving on the air conditioner can result in a significant reduction in your monthly electricity bill.

You've heard of many ways to save electricity for your air conditioners but which are the most effective and practical?

If you are serious about saving electricity from your air conditioners, you should begin it even before you purchase the air conditioners.

I'm not talking about buying cheap air conditioners and saves money, I'm talking about considering the electricity-saving factors when choosing the air conditioner. Then, you follow good practices when using the air conditioner. Let's dive into each of them.

1. Use an Inverter Type

I've stressed many times about the inverter type air conditioner. If you are thinking of saving energy, definitely go for the inverter type. An air conditioner usually has an energy rating to show its efficiency.

In Malaysia, electrical appliances are rated by the Energy Commission from 1 to 5-star. The higher the star rating, the better the energy efficiency and thus, consume lesser electricity. The inverter type air conditioner always got a 5-star rating while the non-inverter type mostly is 3-star with some at 2-star only.

Besides, the inverter air conditioner provides some great benefits too. I previously wrote an article covering the benefits of using an inverter air conditioner. I explained the benefits of the inverter type air conditioner and concluded it with my recommendation. Do check it out if you are considering buying an air conditioner now.

2. Select the Right Capacity

Both under-sizing and over-sizing your air conditioners will result in higher power consumption than it would otherwise have. An undersized air conditioner will always be loaded at maximum capacity, struggling to provide sufficient cooling to your room.

On top of that, the constant high load will shorten the lifespan of the air conditioner.

On the other hand, an oversized air conditioner will result in too much cooling. The air conditioner can't ramp down enough to deliver a comfortable temperature, it will always be too cold.

With over-sized air conditioners, you are not just paying more for the air conditioners but also paying more for the electricity it's consuming.

3. Partition Your House

Nowadays, many houses design combined their living room and dining area to give a more spacious feeling. In a medium to a large house, one air conditioner is usually not sufficient to cover both the living room and the dining area because it is limited by the distance of the air circulation.

Hence, two air conditioners are often needed. Then, each air conditioner is sized slightly bigger to counter the cold air losses during single unit operation.

For example, if you have a 250sqft living room and a 250sqft dining area. Suppose the air conditioner cooling capacity for each of the spaces is 8,750 btu/hr using a 35 btu/hr.sqft multiple.

Because there is no partition between the living room and the dining area, you need to factor in the cold air losses. What I mean by the cold air losses is when you turn on your living room air conditioner, it is serving more than 250sqft because of the open space to the dining area.

Thus, you might end up with two 1.5 HP instead of two 1.0 HP air conditioners.

SpaceMultipleRequired Capacity (btu/hr)AC Size
Living Room (250sqft)358,7501 HP
Dining Area (250sqft)358,7501 HP
With partition
SpaceMultipleRequired Capacity (btu/hr)AC Size
Living Room (250sqft)4511,2501.5 HP
Dining Area (250sqft)4511,2501.5 HP
Without partition

With a partition, you avoided wasting energy on unoccupied room/space. Thus, save electricity on your air conditioner. On top of that, you can potentially downsize the air conditioner (depends on house layout) and save a good amount of money during the purchase.

Nevertheless, the partition can be costly. You should compare it with the reduced air conditioner purchase cost and the estimated long-term electricity-saving cost to decide whether the partition makes sense to you.

Perhaps, you already thinking of a partition. Instead of a hollow wall partition where the air can easily pass through, you may consider switching to a sliding glass door or curtain type partition.

4. Good Outdoor Unit Location

A poorly located outdoor unit can lead to many years ahead of painful breakdown and high power consumption. The outdoor unit of the air conditioner needs fresh ambient air to carry away the heat it absorbed from your house.

If the outdoor unit is not rejecting heat effectively, the air conditioner is not able to cool down the room to the desired temperature. Subsequently, the outdoor unit may experience a hot air short cycle and tripped.

Bad AC Outdoor Location

Don't place the outdoor unit in a cramped and enclosed room or any places where you think the fresh air hardly flows in. Follow the space clearance requirement found in the air conditioner instruction manual when installing the outdoor unit. Every air conditioner has one of them.

An air conditioner runs at its best efficiency when there is a constant fresh ambient airflow to the outdoor unit. It makes the heat rejection process effective and puts stress off the system.

5. Strategically Place Your Indoor Unit

A typical air conditioner indoor unit uses a return air temperature sensor to control its cooling power and maintain the room at the desired temperature. The indoor unit is relying on the air that bounces back to it to determine whether the current room temperature.

You need to place the indoor unit in a position that can deliver the air to the furthest area and circulate back so that you'll get all the spaces equally cooled. Otherwise, your air conditioner will reduce cooling power when it detects sufficient cooling while certain spaces are still warm.

Placing the indoor unit correctly ensures you got the right capacity for the right area. It saves you money by not required you to purchase another air conditioner at the same time, saves you electricity by running one air conditioner instead of two.

Save Money On Air Conditioner Maint...
Save Money On Air Conditioner Maintenance And Cleaning

6. Short Refrigerant Pipe and Good Insulation

An air conditioner also runs at very good efficiency when there is not much energy loss at the refrigerant pipe. Therefore, the length of the refrigerant pipe and its insulation are both contributing to the efficiency of the air conditioner.

The insulation glue must be sufficiently put to avoid the insulation from peeling off from the copper pipe surface in the future. Ensures that the installer uses sufficient thickness of the insulation to avoid significant energy losses.

The insulation size must match with the copper pipe size so that there are no gaps between the insulation and the pipe which will allow opportunities for energy loss.

7. Optimize the Temperature Setting

Many people including several air conditioner manufacturers had suggested that the optimal temperature setting for best energy efficiency is between 23°C to 25°C.

Setting the temperature at the lowest possible such as 16°C will put your air conditioner at constant maximum load which will consume significantly more power while still unable to cool down your room to 16°C.

The air temperature coming out from the indoor unit is typically at around 16°C and circulates the air in the room a few rounds to reach the set temperature. Hence, it is almost impossible for the air conditioner to maintain a room temperature of 16°C.

By setting the temperature at 16°C, you are asking the air conditioner to do the impossible which your air conditioner will run at full load to try to reach it. It can run for hours or days and still not able to reach 16°C while consumed a huge amount of electricity.

Therefore, it is wise to set your temperature at where it should be which is between 23°C to 25°C for the best comfort. If you need the initial fast cooling, instead of setting it at 16°C, use the powerful mode or turbo mode where the air conditioner will blast at full speed for few minutes and ramp back down to as per the set temperature.

Turbo Mode

8. Turn Off the Ceiling Fan

It is controversial for me to suggest that turning off your fan saves electricity for your air conditioner because many people had suggested that turning on the fan can help to reduce the power consumption of the air conditioner including some of the air conditioner manufacturers.

Actually, both are correct but there is a difference.

Turning on your ceiling fan helps in reducing the electricity consumption of the air conditioner because you also need to set the air conditioner temperature at 26°C and above. With a higher temperature setting, of course, your air conditioner consumes less power in exchange.

Then, with the ceiling fan on, you'll still get comfortable with the higher temperature setting.

However, not everyone can accept a room temperature of 26°C even with the greater airflow aided by the ceiling fan. I personally don't like it because it is still not cold enough and the room humidity sometimes is still not at my comfort level.

The ceiling fan will disturb the air circulation that is needed for the air conditioner. The air conditioner will not be able to control its cooling power accurately when it is sensing the wrong return air temperature.

That is why when you turn on the ceiling fan, you hardly feel the cold as it supposes to be. If you are not aware of it, you might keep lowering the temperature setting. Ultimately, making the air conditioner consumes more power.

9. Close All Windows and Doors

We all should close all windows, doors and perhaps curtain to reduce the heat coming into our house when using the air conditioner. Not doing so will allow significant cold air losses and the air conditioner will consume significantly more electricity.

On top of that, the air conditioner will not be able to dehumidify sufficiently to keep you comfortable. Thus, your skin feels sticky when windows and doors are not closed.

10. Schedule an Off Timer

Automatically turn off your air conditioner 30 minutes or 1 hour before you wake up can help you to save a good amount of electricity over time. If everyone in your house does the same, it can potentially save a significant amount of money over many years.

11. Clean the Air Conditioner Regularly

Cleaning the indoor unit filter once every month and doing necessary chemical wash keeps your air conditioner running at optimal efficiency. Besides, it also helps to remove stress from the air conditioner and prolong the lifespan of the system.

12. Overhaul or Replace the Air Conditioner

When an air conditioner is too old like more than 10 or 15 years, it is usually wise to overhaul it or replace it with a new model. The newer air conditioner has better features and runs much more efficiently than the older model thanks to technological advancement.

If budget is constrained, consider overhauling because the old air conditioner is draining way too much power with all the internal components in poor shape and functioning at very low efficiency.


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Yu Chang Zhen

I enjoy working on air conditioners and ventilation fans because Malaysia is a very hot country.

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