The recent hot weather has been unbearable in my house this year, especially as I am working from home.
As such, I’ve decided to look into installing air conditioning.
However, I know that it is unlikely to be cheap to install and will increase my energy bills. How much am I looking at paying?
Another concern is how this could affect the environment – would it be particularly damaging? Via email
Some households are considering installing air conditioning as the warm weather continues
Grace Gausden, This is Money, replies: Most of us have been enjoying the hot weather recently – but for people who live in particularly heat-prone houses and flats, it isn’t all fun and games.
Many of those working from home will have realised how hot their properties are during the day, and will be looking for long-term ways to cool them down.
Whilst most will opt for a fan, a more effective option is to consider installing air conditioning as a solution to the heat.
However, this is often very costly and can also have negative implications on the environment.
In fact, figures from Energy Helpline show exactly how much more it can cost to run air conditioning compared to having a fan on.
Whilst the cost of running an air conditioner can vary depending on the size of the aircon unit you have, it can cost upwards of 43p an hour to run.
If you are running your air conditioning for eight hours a day, over the course of a month this will cost you over £100.
By comparison running a fan costs just 0.75p per hour, and to have it running for eight hours a day, this will cost you around £1.80 a month – a huge difference.
Meanwhile, using a portable air conditioner uses 2.3 kilowatts of energy per hour on average while a fan uses 0.08 kilowatts per hour.
Therefore, an air conditioner uses 28 times more energy than a fan.
With regards to the impact on the environment, Ofcom’s most recent report on greenhouse gases shows that one kilowatt of electricity creates 0.233kg of carbon dioxide.
This means using an air conditioner for an hour creates 0.536kg of CO2 compared to just 0.02kg when using a fan for an hour.
Ultimately, using a fan is better for the environment – and for your wallet.
But for those who really can’t stand the heat, we outline some of the best portable air conditioning options at the end of this article.
We also asked some energy experts for their tips on keeping your house cool.
Using a fan, compared to air conditioning, could save you a lot when it comes to energy bills
Will Owen, energy expert at Uswitch, replies: While you might not think that home air conditioning is all that common in the UK, a spell of hot weather at the end of May 2020 saw Google searches for portable air conditioning units rocket by 133 per cent compared to the previous year.
According to Uswitch research, these units cost around 44p per hour to run.
At the average usage of 4 hours 18 minutes during the day and 4 hours 48 minutes at night, portable air conditioning units could drive up electricity bills by £28 per week during hot weather.
However, a 120W electric fan costs approximately 2p an hour to run, so shouldn’t make too much of a dent in your energy usage.
If you do want to make your fan more efficient, you could try placing a bowl of ice or a frozen water bottle in front of it to circulate the cooler air.
To stop your room from warming up too much to start with, try keeping your curtains closed and windows open during the day where possible.
Tom Lyon, director of energy at Energy Helpline, replies: Keeping your house cool during the hot summer months doesn’t always require the use of expensive air conditioning units and a few simple tricks can help you reduce the temperature in your home.
It is important to keep your windows shut as this will prevent hot air from entering your home.
Don’t forget to open them back up once the sun goes down to let in the cooler air.
When cooking, using your oven and grill less will also help keep the temperature down, and should your kitchen get really hot, turn on your extractor fan to remove the warm air.
For households who do use air conditioning units, make sure you keep the vents clean as this will keep your house cooler and reduce your energy costs. It is worth noting that you should get your unit serviced at least once a year too.
Experts say keeping windows shut during hot weather is a good idea as it stops hot air entering
Gareth Kloet, energy spokesperson, at Go Compare, replies: From an energy perspective, the cost of running an air conditioning unit will be dependent on how much energy the unit is using, how many units you have in the home and how long the unit needs to run in order to achieve the desired temperature.
But it’s important to remember that energy retail prices have not been this high in five years, and there are concerns that this will continue to increase, so the running of a cooling system is definitely getting more expensive.
A better alternative that helps all year round would be to insulate your property and consider cavity wall insulation – if it’s not already installed.
This is because it not only helps keep your home warm in winter, it also has the added benefit of keeping it cooler in summer.
If you are thinking about cavity wall insulation you should get expert advice from a professional cavity wall installer, who will undertake a survey to make sure your home is suitable.
As with all alterations to your home, it’s also a good idea to inform your home insurer before starting any work.
Portable air conditioning units
As an alternative to a fan or fully installed air conditioning units, there are a number of portable options on the market.
They can range from prices as low as £40 to well into the hundreds, depending on how powerful you want them to be.
We have selected some ranging in price so customers can see what they can get for their money.
The Corlitec Portable Air Conditioner is currently on the market for £399.99
Corlitec Portable Air Conditioner (£399.99)
This 3-in-1 air conditioner also acts as a dehumidifier and cooling fan with two speeds.
It comes with a digital display and can be operated with a remote control. There is also a 24 hour timer and a digital display showing the current temperature.
Whilst it is not the smallest conditioner, it has four wheels on the bottom making it portable.
Dyson Cool Tower Fan (£349.99)
One of the most popular fan models, the Dyson Cool fan can be programmed to turn off after preset intervals, from 15 minutes to 9 hours.
It weighs just 2.85kg and is just over a meter tall. Users can choose from ten airflow settings to get the temperature just right.
The Russell Hobbs device is on wheels
Elitlife Air Cooler (£30.99)
A cheap option, perfect for those who want some short term relief, the air cooler is a 4 in 1 portable, mini unit.
It is a combination of air conditioner cooler, desk fan and air humidifier and is equipped with 3 speeds, so users can choose an ideal speed to cool them down.
Russell Hobbs RHPAC3001 (£246)
The 3 in 1 portable air conditioner also acts as a dehumidifier which can be useful in the winter months as well as the summer.
The air cooler has 2000W of power and can be remote controlled.
It is also on wheels so can be moved around easily.
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