The average temperature in the build up to any given British summer is enough to turn anyone into a climate change skeptic, but there are certainly days when it can become unbearably hot in the UK. Most of us manage by rushing out to buy a fan, raiding the ice lolly department at our local convenience store or simply using the scientific wonder that is the sash window, but more people are now starting to ask whether they should install home air conditioning. After all, the cooling breeze is something that we have become used to in our cars, in hotels and in shopping centres. So why not extend that to our homes?
Image source: Andrew Dunn
If you have decided that your office fan no longer cuts it in your bedroom on a hot night, or your living room is not well ventilated enough for you to escape the heat, then you may first want to try a single unit air conditioning unit, which is a portable (but heavy) machine that you vent via a window.
This is a good lower cost solution to cooling your home, but obviously it will simply be restricted to the room you and it are in. It also can cause security problems, as you will have to leave a window open as it works. This is fine in the day, but it may be a worry at night, especially if you live or sleep on a ground floor. Good portable units start at around £300, but do check reviews and look out for the BTU rating, which should let you know just how cooling they will be.
If you want something more permanent and secure that spreads throughout the home then you should consult an air conditioning specialist, who will be able to talk you through the process and give you a quote for the job. Installed ‘split’ air conditioning units for your home will cost upwards of £1,000 per room and you can also have a linked multi-unit system that works in a similar way to your central heating, using a thermostat to know when the cooling air should kick in. You should always make sure that you overestimate when you will need the home air conditioning to start up, as running units can be very costly.
When an air conditioning tradesperson calls they will want to measure your rooms so that they can establish how big a unit you will need. As a rough guide you should multiply the volume of a room by five to tell you how many BTUs are needed to cool a room. The tradesperson should also be able to offer features such as remote controls for your units and tell you which manufacturer’s models will work best for you. Some have sleep mode, which means that the fans turn more slowly and are quieter. Otherwise you may need earplugs to get a good night’s sleep on a hot night.
One important factor to take into account whether you are deciding whether to buy an air conditioning unit or which one to buy is electricity consumption. The units should have an energy efficiency rating so you can compare units and brands. But do be aware that these are powerful units that will use a lot of energy as they run. Expect a hike in your energy bills, which could even double over the summer months. Nothing will cool your home as well as air conditioning, but you have to weigh up the cost of purchase and installation alongside energy consumption.
If you decide that home air conditioning is not for you and you still want to stay cool this summer then you may find that being smart or even acting counter-intuitively may help. A through breeze is always nice, but if you have a house that generally stays cool then you may be best off keeping the doors and windows closed to keep warm air out. Closing curtains will also stop the sun from warming your home at the hottest parts of the day.