Cooling running costs

Before making a decision on which cooling system to buy, it’s important to talk to a retailer about the initial purchase cost and the running costs of the new system.

Shop with one of our Smarter Choice retail partners to help you make informed decisions when buying a cooling system.

The table below compares the annual running costs for various types of cooling systems for a range of room sizes for a 2-star house in Melbourne.

Room size

Suitable cooler type

Energy star rating

Annual Energy Cost ($/Yr)* 

Annual GHG Emissions (kg/Yr)

 Room / Space cooling

Small room

12m2

Portable or ceiling fan

N/A

$2 to $3

10 to 15

Portable evaporative cooler

N/A

$5

20

Split system air conditioner

$35 165
 5 stars $10 45

Medium room

30m2

Portable or ceiling fan

N/A

 $5 to $10

25 to 35

Electric split system air conditioner 5.5 kW output

$50

235

 5 stars  $20  95

Large area

60m2

2 portable or ceiling fans

N/A

 $10 to $15 25 to 35

Split system air conditioner 8 kW output

 $75

235

 5 stars  $40  95
 Central cooling

Small house

100m2

Ducted refrigerative air conditioning (not zoned)

 $185

890

 Four and a half stars  $75

360

Ducted refrigerative air conditioning (zoned)

 $175

835

Four and a half stars  $70

320

Ducted evaporative cooling

Standard

 $45

205

Inverter

 $35

170

 Ceiling fans N/A   $15 to $25  70 to 115

Medium house

160m2

Ducted refrigerative air conditioning (not zoned)    $240  1,150
 Four and a half stars  $120  560
Ducted refrigerative air conditioning (zoned)    $225  1,065
 Four and a half stars  $105  495
Ducted evaporative cooling  Standard  $65  295
 Inverter  $50  235
 Ceiling fans  N/A  $25 to $40  115 to 180

Large house

220m2

Ducted refrigerative air conditioning (not zoned)    $295  1,415
 Four and a half stars  $160  760
 Ducted refrigerative air conditioning (not zoned)    $270  1,300
 Four and a half stars  $140  670
 Ducted evaporative cooling  Standard  $80  385
 Inverter  $65  305
Ceiling fans N/A   $35 to $55 155 to 245

*Approximate energy cost per year, based on an average existing (pre 2005) 2-star house in a Melbourne climate, cooling all day on the weekend and in the morning and evenings when internal temperatures are high. Based on an electricity tariff of 27.5c/kWh. Note that the evaporative coolers will also use water and the cost of water is not included in this table. Actual costs for your house will depend on the area cooled, how long you run the cooling for, your thermostat settings, how well insulated and shaded the house us, your energy tariffs and your local climate.

To estimate running costs for a cold climate (eg Ballarat) multiply these figures by 0.85, and for a warm climate (eg Mildura) multiply these figures by 3.2. To estimate the running cost for a 5-Star house multiply these figures by 0.95, and for a 6-Star house multiply these figures by 0.85.