The Meanings of the Icons in an Air-Con Remote Control to Decrease Electricity Bills

Image: panuwat phimpha /

Most of us usually just go for the “On / Off” button in our air-conditioner remote control, and sometimes adjust the temperature when the sun is merciless that day.

It’s almost like all the other buttons in the remote are redundant – much like all those icons we see on the screen of the remote.

In fact, why is there even a LCD display?

Here’s the thing: each of these icons plays a part, and with the correct usage, you can cool down your room while saving up to 20% off your electricity bills.

Ultimate Concise Guide to the Icons in Your Air-Conditioner Remote Control

If you’ve taken the effort to read the instruction manual of your air-conditioner unit, you’d have known about these, but how many of us do that?

Here’s an image of the manual.


Usually, for most remotes, there would be four key sections on the LCD display: the temperature, the timer, the mode and the fan.

Sounds pretty simple, isn’t it?

I presume that most, if not all, of you know about the temperature and timer sections.


The sections that confuse us are the Mode and Fan setting: what’s with the complicated settings and those weird icons?

In order to access your mode and fan setting, you might need to open the casing to reveal a series of buttons that look as alien as the settings in a new car.

You will then see the mode and fan buttons.

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Mode, the most complicated thing in the world


Usually, you’ll see primarily four main modes that you can select: Auto, Cool, Dry and Fan. I checked a few air-conditioners in my office and couldn’t find Heat, and for good reasons: why the heck do we need heat?

Now, what do each of the modes do?

As the name suggests, you’re letting the air-conditioner decides on which mode to use, depending on the room itself. Most of the times, this would work just fine, but you won’t have control over what mode it’s on.

When this mode is set, the air-conditioner will do its best to run it at the temperature you’ve set. Without going into the inner workings, you just need to know that in order to keep the room at a certain temperature, it needs strong fans and compressor, leading to – wait for it – higher bills. But you were expecting this, don’t you?

We’ve an entire article to this, and here’s the brief idea of how it works: it removes humid air from the room instead of blowing cool air in. Think of it this way: it’s sucking out the hot air in the room to lower the temperature instead of using cold air. And because it doesn’t require much energy to remove hot air, this is usually friendly to your wallet.

The fan is what a fan does: it blows out cold air. Yes, you’d hear strong gushes of wind coming out of the unit, but all you get is wind. While it saves electricity because it’s, erm, just a fan (especially if the compressor is turned off or not strong enough), you’re better off with just a ceiling fan instead.

Basically, fan means the temperature isn’t the priority: the moving air is. And also, it gives you the illusion that the room is cold.

Fan button: What’s that?

Now, here’s when it gets even more confusing: why a need for a fan button when there’s a mode for it?

The thing is, fan doesn’t have an IQ of 100 – even when you turn on the fan mode, it won’t know whether it has cooled you down. Therefore, you need to manually decide how strong you want the fan to be.

As mentioned, this is usually for people who want to use merely fan mode: if you’re using any other mode, this will work automatically.

So, which mode should we use?

Obviously dry mode would be the best, since it uses less eletricity and does the job. However, when it’s too hot (usually when there’s a window in the room), the dry mode might not have enough time to remove all the hot air that’s coming in.

So it’s best to use dry mode at night (since it won’t be hot outside) and auto mode during the day.

Why do I need to know this?

Because of a simple reason: if you want to pay less in your bills, knowing this will help you in the long run.

After all, what do we usually do when we feel hot in an air-conditioned room? We turn down the temperature. Does it really work if you’re in dry mode? What do you think now?