How Long Should It Take To Cool A House? (Calculator + Chart)

How fast does an AC cool a house? The key question we have to answer is how long does it take to cool a house by 1 degree. Based on that, we can calculate how long should it take to cool a house from 80°F to 72°F or by 2 degrees, for example. As you might imagine, how long does it take to cool down a house depends on several factors.

Theoretically speaking, we can presume that the heat capacity of air at 72°F is 1.006 kJ/kg*K and its density at 72°F and 14.7 psia is 1.195 kg/m3. If we use ’20 BTU per sq ft with 8 ft ceilings’ the DOE rule of thumb for sizing AC units, we know that we will need about 1-ton of AC (12,000 BTU/h or 12,661 kJ) to adequately cool a 600 sq ft space (20×30 room, for example). In order to calculate the cooling time, we use these two equations:

Q = m×C×ΔT and m = V×ρ

Don’t worry about how complex this sounds. We are going to simplify it quite a bit further on; but if we want exact figures, we need to make precise calculations. On top of that, you will be able to use the Cooling Time Calculator yourself and check out the Cooling Time Chart as well.

how long should it take to cool a house from 80f to 72f
It takes about 18 minutes to cool down an average house by 1 degree. You can use the calculator + chart further on to see what is a sensible time for cooling your house.

Before we check all the factors that affect the speed of temperature decrease when running an air conditioner, let’s summarize rough estimates, based on these calculations with added losses adjustments:

  • It should take a standard AC 18 minutes to cool down a house by 1 degree.
  • It should take a standard AC 36 minutes to cool down a house by 2 degrees.
  • It should take a standard AC 54 minutes to cool down a house by 3 degrees.
  • It should take a standard AC 1 hour and 12 minutes to cool down a house by 4 degrees.
  • It should take a standard AC 1 hour and 30 minutes to cool down a house by 5 degrees.
  • On average, it should take about 3 hours (180 minutes) to cool down a house by 10 degrees.

Inversely, we can also answer how many degrees should ac cool per hour. Within 1 hour, the AC should decrease the temperature by about 3.3 degrees.

By knowing how long does it take to cool a house down by 1 degree, we can adequately estimate how long should it take to cool a house from 80 degrees to 72 degrees, right?

That’s an 8-degree difference. Here is how we can calculate how long it takes to get from 80°F to 72°F:

Cooling Time (From 80°F To 72°F) = 8 × 18 Minutes = 144 Minutes = 2.4 Hours

In general, it takes 2 hours and 24 minutes to cool a house from 80°F to 72°F. However – this is very important – you can just blindly take this number and assume that your house will be cooled to 72°F in 2.4 hours.

What you vitally need to include in your calculation are the contributing factors. Some factors like good insulation and a big AC unit can decrease the time it takes for the AC to cool your house down. Others like very hot outdoor temperatures (100°F or more) and the size of your home will increase this time.

To get a good feeling of what is a sensible time for your house to cool down to 72°F, you will have to account for these factors. Further on, we will should you how to do just that.

There is more:

Not everybody starts at 80°F. Some houses are at 85°F and you want to cool them to 72°F, others are at 87°F, 90°F, and so on. For everybody to be able to get an estimate of how long should it take for a house to cool to 72°F, or even to 75°F or 78°F, we have prepared a Cooling Time Calculator.

This calculator will estimate (based on the time it takes for a 1-degree drop in temperature) how long should it take to cool a house from:

  • Any start temperature. Example: 80°F, 82°F, 85°F, 88°F, 90°F, and so on.
  • To any end temperature. Example: 75°F, 72°F, 70°F, 68°F, and so on.

Below the Cooling Time Calculator, you will also find a calculated Cooling Time Chart of how many hours it takes to cool a house from any start temperature to 72°F.

Before we check out the calculator and the calculated table, let’s look at what factors we should take into account when determining how long it takes to cool a house:

Factors That Affect The Speed Of Cooling

On average, it takes about 18 minutes to cool down a house by 1 degree. Of course, in some homes, we will see that a 1-degree drop happens in 12 minutes, and in others, it will take longer; let’s say 25 minutes.

Why is that?

Well, every home is different. The 18-minute mark is just a rough average. Factors that can increase or decrease the time it takes for cooling a home include:

  • Size of your air conditioning systems. This is a relative size; if you have an oversized unit, you will likely see that a 1-degree temperature drop happens in less than 18 minutes. If, on the other hand, you have an undersized unit for your home, the 1-degree temperature drop will take more than 18 minutes. You can check what size air conditioner you need in terms of BTUs (adequate sizing) here.
  • Insulation. Insulation plays a key role in heat exchange between your home and the surroundings. With better insulation (high insulation R-values), you will be able to cool your house quicker than with subpar insulation.
  • Size of your home. The 18-minute drop is calculated for an average 2,200 sq ft house. With bigger houses, the cooling will usually take longer to drop the indoor temperature from 80 degrees to 72 degrees. In smaller houses, you can see a faster change in temperature.
  • Outdoor temperature. The higher the outdoor temperature, the slower the process of cooling. For example, if the outdoor temperature is 100°F you will be able to cool your house down slower than if it would be 90°F. This is because no insulation is perfect; outdoor heat will inevitably sieve into the house and the air conditioner has to fight this heat transfer as well.

With all these factors in mind, we can look at the Cooling Time Calculator which uses an average house size, adequately-sized air conditioner, average insulation, and 95°F outdoor temperature conditions to calculate how quickly you can cool a house:

Cooling Time Calculator


Here’s how you can use this calculator:

Let’s say you want to cool your house from 80°F to 72°F. You slide the first input to ’80’, the second input to ’72’, and you will get the result in minutes.

Namely, you can see that, on average, it takes 144 minutes (or 2 hours and 24 minutes) to cool down a house from 80°F to 72°F.

You can also consult this cooling time chart, based on the same presumptions about the AC, house sizing, and insulation R-values:

Cooling Time Chart

This chart tells you how long should it take to cool down a house from different initial temperatures to the desired temperature:

From/To: 75°F 80°F 85°F 90°F 95°F
65°F 180 Minutes 240 Minutes 360 Minutes 450 Minutes 540 Minutes
68°F 126 Minutes 216 Minutes 306 Minutes 396 Minutes 486 Minutes
70°F 90 Minutes 180 Minutes 270 Minutes 360 Minutes 450 Minutes
72°F 52 Minutes 144 Minutes 234 Minutes 324 Minutes 414 Minutes
75°F 0 Minutes 90 Minutes 180 Minutes 270 Minutes 360 Minutes
78°F N/A 36 Minutes 126 Minutes 216 Minutes 306 Minutes


For example, let’s say you want to cool your house by 2-degrees from 80°F to 78°F. This will take, on average, about 36 minutes.

If, however, you want to go to extremes, you can take the cooling from 95°F to 65°F as an example. This is a massive 30°F drop in indoor temperature; it will take about 540 minutes (9 hours) of the air conditioner running at 100% output to achieve that.

Hopefully, now you have a good understanding of how quickly an air conditioner can cool a house. You can use both the calculator and this table to get an idea of how long should it take to cool down a house.

Of course, be mindful about including the specified factors above in the calculation; with some houses, it may take longer to cool down, and with others, it will take less time.

13 thoughts on “How Long Should It Take To Cool A House? (Calculator + Chart)”

  1. Is the chart different if you live in the desert? I’m in Arizona and it is 106 degrees right now, Our indoor temp was 81 and took almost 3 hours to get to 78. One digit at a time.

    • Hello Jane, it depends largely on how big an air conditioning system you have. In general, how long should it take to cool a house depends on humidity levels as well; air with a lot of air moisture is harder to cool. Given that you are in the Arizona desert, the air should be dry and therefore the cooling time should be reduced. So, it seems that AC being small or insulation levels are sub-par are two factors that prolong the time it takes to decrease the temperature in the house. Hope this helps.

      • We live in Eastern NC and are currently experiencing temps of about 100 degrees daily outside. We are moving into a 100 yr old, 3500 Sqft home this weekend that sat with no power for 3 days during said temps above. Currently it has been 6 days since the power was restored and the home has been set to 72 degrees with almost no foot traffic in and out, no open windows, and no cooking or baking. The house is still sitting at roughly 84 degrees on the second floor, 78 on the first floor, and hot hot in the dome above the second floor.

        There is a thermostat on both the first and second floor, but we have only seen one unit on the outside of the home, but the owner states it is a larger unit than a usual residential unit would be. The question here is how much longer should I give the system to play catch up before I request to have it looked at? We officially move in in 2 days and don’t want to be sitting in a hot house.

        Thank you!

        • Hi Patience, that 84-degree indoor temperature really has to be dealt with. Now, a 3500 sq ft house that is 100 years old (usually has subpar R-insulation values compared to modern houses) will need a lot of cooling output. If you just go by the 20 BTU per sq ft rule of thumb, you would require about 6 tons of cooling output. That one larger outdoor AC unit might not provide sufficient cooling power.

          If you add in the below-average insulation, the high outdoor temperatures can be quite devastating. It might be that the current AC unit is sufficient to handle 90 degree heat; however, it can be overwhelmed at 100 degree days. All things considered, 84 degrees after 6 days of running just means that something is amiss here.
          The best advice would be to call a HVAC guy. He or she will be able to tell (using Manual J calculation) if the AC unit is sufficient, especially given the insulation properties of 100 year old houses. If you are new in the area and don’t really have your HVAC guy here, you can use this form to get some contacts from local HVAC companies. It’s best to assess the situation and solve it now than later, I think. Given the 84 temperature, it doesn’t seem that the AC will be capable of pushing that temp below 80 in 2 days. Hope this helps and that you find a good solution here.

  2. The temperature in my house right now is 89 degrees. The thermostat is set at 68 degrees. How long should it take to cool my house to make it comfortable to stay in the house.

    • Hi Verna, of course, it depends on quite a lot of factors such as insulation, AC tonnage, outdoor air temperature, windows, and so on. But if we follow the general rule of thumb that it takes on average about 18 minutes for the temperature to lower by 1 degree, you are looking at about 6 hours for the house to cool down to 68 degrees. Some people are already comfortable at about 78 degrees, that can take about 3 hours. Hope this helps.

  3. Last night at 11:30 outside temperature it was 88 degrees inside was 83 degress 5 degrees diferentes by 5:30 am outside it was 81 and inside was 78 degrees only 3 degrees difernce usually have it automatic till 78 grades never turn off I know it needs to hit till 77 to turn off Didn’t happens during night even that is more fresh it’s not going to happens during day time.Doing the math it take 6 hrs for 10 degress.Do you thing it needs freeze on or werheter the name is .To me is like something is wrong but I rent this house and the owner of the house things it works ok .What you think? Help me with your advise please And I ask for another filter for this year didn’t bring that .It may affect to cool down faster .How often you have to change the filter I thing my is from last year.

  4. Hi
    Out side air temperature is 45 degree and humidity is 50 %. How long will it take for a 2 ton ac to tredude the inside temperature from 31 degrees to 25 degrees?

    • Hi there, 45 degrees Celsius? That’s extremely hot. It depends on the square footage and insulation R-values, and so on. If you take the statistical average 18 minutes per 1 degree, you are looking at 6-degree difference or about 2 hours of cooling time.

  5. Hi I live in a 2 bedroom 960 sq ft apartment. Was 81 in apartment. 89 outside. Took it 6 hours to get to 75. We are second floor. No one above us and no one on one side. Is this ok???

    • Hi Eva, if the AC can manage to adequately lower the temp, that’s all you actually need. Given that it took longer than 18 min per degree, you might have below-average insulation R-values, a lot of windows, or a bit undersized AC, or a combination of these factors. The important part is that you got to 75 degrees.


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