Can I Use Air Conditioning In Winter?

Is it ok to use air conditioning in winter? Will the AC work when it’s freezing outdoors? You may have numerous reasons for turning this appliance on during wintertime. However, you need to be careful and read the manual to find out what the limitations are.

In this article, we’ve collected expert opinions about using the AC in the winter. You’ll find out when it’s appropriate and when it could be harmful to the appliance. Since all air conditioner models are different, you need to check the manufacturer’s specs before turning your unit on when temperatures drop.

Why Use an AC in Winter?

There is a reason why the appliance is called “air conditioner” rather than “air cooler”. Initially, it was created to condition the air in your home rather than cool it. Meaning, they maintain proper humidity and comfort levels in your rooms.

When winter comes and heating systems start working, you’ll notice high humidity filling the air. In the attempt to stay warm, you can trap moisture inside. This could be dangerous for the health of your household members as well as damaging for the items inside your home. Humidity can initiate mold formation and induce bacteria growth. Meanwhile, the air in the house could become hard to breathe.

Steamed-up windows block the sunshine out while causing the window frames to rot. If you see the glass fogging up, you have high humidity. The reason is the lack of ventilation. It’s important to open windows to let fresh air in to avoid high humidity. However, if you have poor ventilation in your home, fresh air will only help while windows are open.

That’s where AC comes in. If you see windows steaming up and the air becoming humid, run the air conditioner for about 20 minutes to balance the amount of moisture inside your home. After 20 minutes, you can leave the appliance’s fan running for several hours. This way you won’t be initiating the fight between your cooling and heating units while conditioning the air.

For some homeowners, using air conditioning during the winter is the only way to keep the air clean and fresh while avoiding respiratory problems and damage to the interior.

Using AC as a Heater

Some air conditioning units have a heating option built-in. You can set the thermostat to about 90°C and use the AC to heat the room. This may be a useful option when you need to heat the room fast. The AC can bring warm air into the house immediately so you don’t have to wait for the HVAC system to do its job.

To find out if your AC has a heating mode, read the manual. Usually, it’s not enough simply to increase the temperature, you need to switch to the heat mode first. An AC with a heat pump uses less electricity than a heater.

However, if you live in a cold climate, you can’t hope to use the air conditioner as the sole source of heat for your room. The reason is low temperature limitations. ACs with heat pumps won’t work properly as the temperatures fall below 25°F. Many manufacturers don’t recommend using your air conditioner when outdoor temperatures are below 32°F.

Many air conditioners are equipped with special controls that prevent running them in low temperatures. Some may stop functioning as the temperatures outside drop below 32°F. If you are planning to use your AC during winter, check the specs before buying it. It may not be suitable for operation in a cold environment.

If you are traveling and staying in hotels or apartments, make sure to ask the host whether you can use the AC when it’s cold out. You don’t want to break an appliance, which is not designed for winter operation.

Can I Damage my AC by Running it in the Winter?

According to experts from, many homeowners ignore the AC limitations and end up having to repair or even replace the appliance.

Just as it happens with engine oil, compressor oil for AC has different grades. The oil usually used in basic AC compressors is designed for operating in warm temperatures. The heavy-grade oil does an excellent job making the appliance work when it’s hot out because while heating, it can still provide sufficient lubrication. However, as the temperatures drop, the heavy-grade oil thickens thus not allowing the compressor to function properly.

Air Condition Maintenance in Winter

While many homeowners readily use their ACs in the winter, they often overlook maintenance. It’s easy to remember to change filters and inspect the unit during high season when you turn it on every day. However, in wintertime, when you rarely use the appliance, you can forget to provide proper maintenance.

It’s important to replace filters once every two to three months depending on how heavily you use the unit when the weather is cold. Make sure to read the manual to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations about winter care.

In case you decide not to use the AC in winter or you are planning to go on a long vacation, consider winterizing it.


You can use your air conditioner in the winter in two cases: if the weather is hot or if the AC is equipped with a heat pump. However, even ACs with heat pumps may not operate in temperatures below 25°F. Read the manual carefully to find out what maintenance ACs with heat pumps need and what operation limitations exist.

Many people use ACs with heat pumps during the winter because they are energy efficient. They can also help heat the room faster than central heating systems. 

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