The study of energetic free-surface flows is challenging because of the large range of interface scales involved due to multiple fragmentations and reconnections of the air-water interface with the formation of drops and bubbles. Because of their complexity the investigation of such phenomena through numerical simulation largely increased during recent years. Actually, in the last decades different numerical models have been developed to study these flows, especially in the context of particle methods. In the latter a single-phase approximation is usually adopted to reduce the computational costs and the model complexity. While it is well known that the role of air largely affects the local flow evolution, it is still not clear whether this single-phase approximation is able to predict global flow features like the evolution of the global mechanical energy dissipation. The present work is dedicated to this topic through the study of a selected problem simulated with both single-phase and two-phase models. It is shown that, interestingly, even though flow evolutions are different, energy evolutions can be similar when including or not the presence of air. This is remarkable since, in the problem considered, with the two-phase model about half of the energy is lost in the air phase while in the one-phase model the energy is mainly dissipated by cavity collapses.