Close this search box.

Table of Contents

Equivalent Annual Cost (EAC)


Equivalent Annual Cost (EAC) is a financial term used to calculate and compare the ongoing costs of owning, operating, and maintaining an asset over its lifetime. Essentially, it’s the annual cost of owning an asset, or project, over its entire life assuming it is replaced at the end of each lifespan. It’s commonly used in capital budgeting to help businesses make long-term financial decisions.


Equivalent Annual Cost (EAC) in phonetics is pronounced as: Equivalent: /iˈkwɪvələnt/Annual: /ˈæn.juː.əl/Cost: /kɔːst/EAC: /ˈiː – eɪ – siː/

Key Takeaways

1. Definition: The EAC is a method used in financial analysis to compare the cost-effectiveness of different items having unequal lifespans. The EAC calculates the annual cost, considering the purchase price, lifespan, and the cost of operation.

2. Significance: EAC allows businesses to compare and measure different investments on equal grounds. It facilitates the decision-making process by providing the annual cost of owning and maintaining an asset, which can help businesses plan their resources more efficiently.

3. Calculation: EAC is computed using the Net Present Value (NPV) of the cost, which includes initial investment, maintenance costs, and the discount rate. The formula for EAC is EAC = NPV / Present Worth Annuity Factor. The Present Worth Annuity Factor is calculated by 1 / (1 – (1 + r) ^ -n) / r, where r represents the discount rate and n represents the life span of the asset.


Equivalent Annual Cost (EAC) is a vital concept in business and finance as it aids in the financial decision-making process, particularly when considering the lifespan of various projects or investments. EAC effectively simplifies the comparison of different priced assets with differing life spans, by calculating the annual cost of owning, operating, and maintaining an asset over its entire life. Therefore, it harmonizes the cost analysis of assets with different lifespans making financial choices more informed and precise. EAC assists businesses to evaluate whether continuous ownership of an asset is cost-effective or if it would be more economical to replace or upgrade the asset, thereby facilitating optimal resource allocation and cost management.


The Equivalent Annual Cost (EAC) plays a key role in helping businesses make optimal decisions when it comes to investments or acquisitions of assets, particularly with long-term projects or assets that have different lifespans. It is utilized as a method to calculate and compare the cost efficiency of these differing assets over their respective lifespans. The EAC provides a snapshot of the annual cost of owning, operating, and maintaining the asset over its entire lifespan, taking into account factors such as purchase price, operational and maintenance costs, and the time value of money.Moreover, the EAC acts as a critical financial indicator in the realm of capital budgeting by aiding in the selection of the most cost efficient alternative. For example, when a business is faced with investment decisions where they need to compare projects or assets that have different lifecycles, the EAC moulds the information into an equivalent yearly cost, thus making a relatively complex decision more straightforward. Overall, the main purpose of using Equivalent Annual Cost is to support organizations in making both strategic and tactical decisions relative to investments and capital expenditure.


1. Vehicle Maintenance: Assuming a business is planning on investing in a fleet of vehicles for work purposes. Before making a decision, it must calculate the Equivalent Annual Cost of each option. For instance, Option A might have a higher upfront cost but lower maintenance costs, while Option B might have a lower purchase price but higher repair and maintenance costs over its life. By calculating the EAC, the business can compare the two options on similar terms to make an informed decision.2. Equipment Acquisition: Assume a manufacturing company needs to acquire a new machine for production. Two machines are available: Machine A has a lower initial cost, but it only lasts for 3 years and has higher operational costs. Machine B is more expensive initially but lasts for 5 years and has lower operational costs. By calculating the EAC, the company can determine which machine will be cheaper to operate annually.3. Property Investment: Real estate investors also have to make decisions on whether to invest in residential or commercial properties. Residential properties may have lower purchase costs compared to commercial properties; however, they may also have lower annual returns and shorter lifespans. The EAC calculation can help investors compare the ongoing costs of different types of properties to determine which is a more cost-effective investment.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Equivalent Annual Cost (EAC)?

Equivalent Annual Cost (EAC) is a financial term used to compare the annual costs of different investment projects with unequal lives. It represents the cost of owning, operating, and maintaining an investment project for one year.

How is the EAC calculated?

The Equivalent Annual Cost (EAC) is calculated by dividing the Net Present Value (NPV) of a project by the present value of annuity factor. It allows easier comparisons as it converts the NPV into an annual figure.

Why is EAC important in financial decision making?

EAC is essential because it helps businesses to evaluate the financial impact of long-term projects by breaking them down into an equivalent annual cost. It makes it easier for companies to demystify complex investment projects, making the comparison straightforward.

Can EAC be used for comparing projects with different life spans?

Yes, in fact, one of the significant benefits of using EAC is its ability to evaluate and compare projects with different life spans, making it a useful tool in decision making for companies facing such scenarios.

Is a lower EAC always better?

Generally, a lower EAC is deemed more attractive because it suggests the project would cost less on an annual basis. However, other factors such as project risks, strategic alignment, estimated returns, etc., should also be considered.

How reliable is EAC analysis?

While the EAC analysis is a helpful tool, it is based on a certain number of assumptions – such as constant cost over the years, regular maintenance costs, etc. If these assumptions do not hold, the EAC analysis might not yield reliable results.

What is the difference between EAC and Net Present Value (NPV)?

NPV is a method that calculates the profitability of a project by discounting all cash flows (both inflow and outflow) to the present time. On the other hand, EAC converts the NPV into an annual cost to compare different projects. Therefore, while both are used for capital budgeting decisions, they serve different purposes.

Related Finance Terms

Sources for More Information

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More