Costs of Supplemental Oxygen

This article was reviewed by Senior Director of Community Engagement and COPD360social Community Manager, Bill Clark, as well as certified staff Respiratory Therapists on January 31, 2020.

Dear COPD Coach,
My husband has COPD and uses supplemental oxygen 24 hours a day. We also use an air cleaner in the room he spends the most time in. I have noticed that our electric bill has been much higher since he started using oxygen. Since we are on a fixed income, is there anything we can do to help with the cost?

—Costs and COPD

Dear Costs,
While today’s concentrators and air cleaners are more efficient than they once were, the cost of running them still adds up, and can be difficult for people on a fixed income. With regard to the concentrator, there is little you can do to cut the costs of operating the unit. However, there are a couple of options available to you. There are air cleaners on the market that can be adjusted to reflect the size of the room, which means you can “dial the unit back” if the room is smaller. There are also units available that either have timers or can be set to an automatic mode to speed up when movement in the room occurs.

As far as the cost of running the concentrator, you might be able to deduct the electricity cost as a medical expense on your taxes.

However, it is important to note that you can do this only if you itemize. In any case, you need to talk with a tax professional to determine your status. If the air cleaner is prescribed by your doctor, it is possible to deduct this cost also.

To determine the cost of running your equipment, you will need to do a little math and make a phone call. First, call your electric company and ask the price per kilowatt hour (KWH). It should be something like 9 or 10 cents. Now look at the back of your unit where it states the voltage and amps. For this example we will say 115 volts and 5 amps.

Now you need to figure out the number of kilowatt hours (KWH) the unit uses in a year:

  • 115 volts X 5 amps = 575 watts
  • 575 watts X .001 KW/W = .58 KW
  • .58KW X 24 (hours a day) X 365 (days of the year) = 5080.8 KWH/Y (Kilowatt hours per year)
  • If your cost per KWH is 9 cents: 5080.8 X 0.09 = $457.28 (cost per year)

Most concentrators have a hour meter built in and you can use this to get an accurate measure of the number of hours the unit has run in the year. You should also keep a copy of your oxygen prescription for your tax records.

One other thing you might want to check is what plans your electric company may have to help offset the cost of running medical equipment. Some electric companies offer a discount for the use of oxygen concentrators. You might also consider asking your electric company if they have a budget plan where your bill is averaged into regular monthly payments to offset either summer cooling or winter heating costs.

Most likely, the amount you will actually be able to get back from a tax deduction will not be substantial, but then again, every dollar can help! Also make sure you deduct any “out of pocket” costs for oxygen supplies!

Best wishes,
The Coaches Corner

Coaches Corner is aimed at providing information for individuals with COPD to take to your doctor, and is not in any way intended to be medical advice. If you would like to submit a question to the Coaches Corner email us at We would love to hear your questions and comments. You can address your emails to The COPD Coach.


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  • That's just another reason why we need to get liquid oxygen back!
  • The new Inogen stationary concentrator is advertised to save people $300/year on their electric bill.
  • IF we get liquid oxygen back, it may be an "all in one" unit where the consumer makes the liquid oxygen in the home and assumes the electrical costs of making oxygen. That is the latest I've heard from a person who works closely with CHART, the company that bought the liquid oxygen company, Puritan Bennett. I'll post more as I learn more.

    In general, my CPA and the IRS regulations note that one can only deduct medical expenses to the extent they exceed 10% of your income. Of course, everyone should check with their tax advisors for the most accurate information for their own situation.