If you want to know how much does it cost to run a portable air conditioner, then you’ll find the complete answer here.

A portable air conditioner electricity cost is based on a number of variables; however, you’ll find the average price you can expect to pay per hour, per day, and per month with a portable AC unit on this page

Our goal is to help you determined how much electricity does a portable AC use so you can decide if it is a good choice for your budget or not.

After you’re done reading, be sure to check out our recommendations for the best portable air conditioner without window access to find a good deal on a unit that can be used in any room.

Additionally, we have a buyer’s guide on finding the best cheap portable AC unit if you want to save the most amount of money possible as well as a best stand up air conditioner guide with even more options.

How Much Does it Cost to Run a Portable Air Conditioner?

Portable AC Unit (BTU)Estimated Cost Per Hour
5,000 BTU Portable Air ConditionerCosts $0.07 per hour
8,000 BTU Portable Air ConditionerCosts $0.11 per hour
10,000 BTU Portable Air ConditionerCosts $0.14 per hour
12,000 BTU Portable Air ConditionerCosts $0.16 per hour
15,000 BTU Portable Air ConditionerCosts $0.20 per hour

Note: The above chart and examples below assume the cost of running a portable air conditioner that has an average EER rating of 10 and the average cost of electricity in the U.S. of $0.13 per kWh. Your final costs will vary depending upon BTU, wattage, kWH, and hourly use.

>> See all of Amazon's Best Selling Portable AC Units <<

How Much Does it Cost to Run a 5,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner?

A 5,000 BTU portable air conditioner costs an average of $0.07 per hour to run. If the portable AC is used for 8 hours per day, then it costs $0.56 per day. Running the portable air conditioner for one month will cost around $16.80.

How Much Does it Cost to Run a 8,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner?

A 8,000 BTU portable air conditioner costs an average of $0.11 per hour to run. If the portable AC is used for 8 hours per day, then it costs $0.88 per day. Running the portable air conditioner for one month will cost around $26.40.

How Much Does it Cost to Run a 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner?

A 10,000 BTU portable air conditioner costs an average of $0.14 per hour to run. If the portable AC is used for 8 hours per day, then it costs $1.12 per day. Running the portable air conditioner for one month will cost around $33.60.

How Much Does it Cost to Run a 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner?

A 12,000 BTU portable air conditioner costs an average of $0.16 per hour to run. If the portable AC is used for 8 hours per day, then it costs $1.28 per day. Running the portable air conditioner for one month will cost around $38.40.

How Much Does it Cost to Run a 15,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner?

A 15,000 BTU portable air conditioner costs an average of $0.20 per hour to run. If the portable AC is used for 8 hours per day, then it costs $1.60 per day. Running the portable air conditioner for one month will cost around $48.

How Much Electricity Does a Portable AC Use?

A portable air conditioner uses electricity equal to the BTU consumption. Converting BTUs to kilowatt-hours (kWh), a 5,000 BTU PAC consumes about 1.4 kWh, a 8,000 BTU unit 2.3 kWh, a 10,000 BTU unit 2.9 kWh, a 12,000 BTU unit 3.5 kWh, and a 15,000-BTU unit 4.4 kWh.

Portable AC Unit (BTU)Estimated Electricity Use (kWh)
5,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner1.4 kWh
8,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner2.3 kWh
10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner2.9 kWh
12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner3.5 kWh
15,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner4.4 kWh

>> See all of Amazon's Best Selling Ventless AC Units <<

What Does BTU Stand For?

BTU is an acronym that stands for British Thermal Unit. It’s an international standard for a form of measurement that measures energy. One BTU refers to the amount of energy that’s needed to increase the temperature of a pound of water by 1° F.

BTU measurements are used when talking about heating and air conditioning units.

What Do BTUs Mean for Your Portable AC?

All portable air conditioners come with a BTU rating that tells you how powerful the unit is.

Although air conditioners remove heat from the air and circulate cool air back in, the BTU measurement still applies. Instead of measuring the amount of heat added to the air, a portable AC BTU rating measures how much heat is removed.

Similar to heaters, the higher the BTU rating of a portable air conditioner, the more powerful it is at cooling a room. Higher BTU ratings equal more square footage for the portable AC unit to cover.

How a Portable Air Conditioner Can Save You Money

Customize the Coolness

Portable units can reduce the cost of indoor temperature control by allowing you to target one room at a time, and when running on a schedule, can even take the place of your existing central air system by keeping only high-traffic areas cool.

Enjoy Year-Round Temperature Management

Having a central air conditioning system is no reason to forego the money-saving benefits of using a portable unit.

Such an investment can help keep your energy costs manageable all year long, especially when the unit is used with a central system that stays running at a higher temperature.

Some portable units even have heating capabilities, adding to their year-round value.

Fun Features

Some portable air conditioners look and function more like high-tech gadgets than simple air conditioning units.

Rule of thumb: the more features the machine has, the more likely it is to save you some serious cash.

Some of the nicest machines on the market come equipped with apps and other features that allow homeowners to control temperatures all day long, whether they are at home or away.

Keep temperatures up when nobody is home, but adjust the temperature to something more comfortable before you get back (without running the central AC system for no reason).

Multi-Tasking Abilities

There are lots of portable air conditioners out there that double (or even triple) as several machines in one.

For example, some units are air dehumidifiers and/or HEPA filter air purifiers as well as powerful air conditioners.

If the unit includes a dehumidifying function then it can lower the humidity levels inside your home which also makes it feel cooler.

If it has a HEPA filter, it can act as an air purifier to remove airborne pollutants like dust, allergens, smoke particles, bacteria, and more.

Just remember, the BTU is still a good indication of how much space will be affected by a multi-tasking portable unit.

The higher the BTU of the machine, the more space the unit will cool.

Make Your Home More Efficient

Central air conditioning units are notorious for using a lot of energy. Portable units are known to run much more efficiently, not to mention they are super easy to install and maintain.

While central AC has its benefits, installation can be extremely expensive and upkeep is always a chore.

Customization is out of the question, so to cool one specific area of the home it requires the entire system has to be powered on.

If you want to save the most money on your electric bill and only have a small room to cool, consider getting a small room air conditioner. Using this unit to supplement your cooling during the hot months can save you a considerable amount of money.

Check this post on the best AC for small room to see what options you can get for low-cost operation.

Summary On the Cost to Run a Portable Air Conditioner

Portable air conditioning machines are bringing convenience back to homes and businesses that had previously used central air for that same reason.

In a fast-paced and expensive world, finding ways to save money on your creature comforts is always a blessing.

As you learned, a portable air conditioner can save you a substantial amount of money when compared to a central air conditioning system.

The exact answer for how much does it cost to run a portable air conditioner depends on the BTU rating of the unit.

As far as how much electricity does a portable AC use, this also depends on the BTU measurement.

Fortunately, all portable air conditioners list the BTU number in their technical specifications and on the side of the unit. Therefore, you can easily determine the costs to run it and electricity use by matching that number to the charts on this page.

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About David Morrison

David is an Air Quality & Comfort Technician. He has expert knowledge on the technology and design of air purification, air conditioning, and heating systems. His main role is to write content that helps people get the most value out of their air purifiers, air conditioners, and heating units. (See Full Bio)