Do You Need Home Air Conditioning?

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?

home air conditioning

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.

home air conditioner

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.

air conditioner at home

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.

If you’ve decided air conditioning is the right choice for your home, get expert advice from one of our qualified and approved air conditioning specialists by posting your job on Rated People.

Iain Aitch

Iain is a London-based writer who works as a journalist for a number of newspapers and magazines. He has also written two books, one of which is a hilarious lexicon about Britishness – Iain is a Brit through and through!

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  1. This article is overly simplistic as a good quality reverse cycle airconditioner can provide heating as well as cooling very efficienlty. If you have installed Solar then the cost of running an Airconditioner is minimal.

  2. Air conditioning is an environmental nightmare second only to outdoor heaters! Good sustainable construction can offer solutions such as special glazing, trickle ventilation, roof overhang. There is no need to burn extra fossil fuel to electrically cool air.

  3. Air conditioning in the UK is surely an unnecessary extravagence in these times of climate change for those few hot summer nights a window could be fixed open at 9″ and the bedroom door open plus a fan to move the air is all that is required to give relief. Having said that I do insist on AC when on holiday in a country which experiences temps.of 30+ This does not happen in the UK

      1. I just had to laugh when I saw Marks comment as its so true although two years later, not only do we have the heat the humidity is a nightmare at the moment. In my home at night temps are 30 but humidity is up 65% all four of us are struggling.

    1. I think you meant to say 40+ there (oops you), as the UK always experiences temps of 30+ and along with that UK humidity that those days come with, it often feels like 40+ regardless.

    2. The UK can regularly experience temps over 30 – 35+ in summer months so it wouldn’t be an unnecessary extravagence.

    3. LOL……just LOL. The UK can regularly experience temps over 30 – 35+ in summer months so it wouldn’t be an unnecessary extravagence.

  4. We had whole house ac installed about 17 years ago, 3 years after moving to London, living in a new build house which feels hermetically sealed even with windows open, and struggling with much hotter summers than we were used to, and far too much heat in the bedrooms overnight, making sleep difficult. Very expensive to instal and run, but the only way for us to stay in London in jobs we love. So I suppose it comes down to balancing up your life. We’ve never regretted it although sometimes it gets a bit chilly ….

  5. Emphatic no. AC consumes colossal amounts of energy, so it should be used only sparingly where necessary – possibly for medical reasons.. We are supposed to be trying to reduce our energy demands at a time when global warming is already causing serious damage to many vulnerable areas of the world.

    1. I agree with how most people and business use air conditioners is incredibly wasteful and we’re walking into a disaster with the warming of the planet. Having to artificially cool buildings so that ridiculous dress codes are tenable is insane.

      Air conditioning uses the same amount of energy to cool as it does to heat our homes. Yesterday it was 33 degrees in London outside, my flat will get to around 31 degrees, I had my portable AC unit set to 26 degrees.

      My flat is exceptionally well insulated and sound proofed as we did everything ourself.

      In taking the temp 5 degrees down between 11:00 and 21:00 for 10 hours my unit consumed 6.84 kW.h per my smart plug.

      Compare that to my average heating usage in Jan/Feb/March this year which was 17 kW.h a day.

      It’s easy to understand why – the ambient temp in winter can be low as -10 this year in London. I have my thermostat set to 21 degrees. That’s a 31 degree difference.

      If you set your thermostats to comfortable levels and utilise fans to encourage evaporative cooling on the skin – air conditioners aren’t wasteful at all. As my example above shows.

  6. The reason we have global climate change is because we are using too much non-renewable energy. Solution: use more on aircon?!

  7. Am sick to death of freezing air conditioning on our trains, in theatres , cinemas, restaurants , airports, supermarkets etc. don’t know where managements think we live but staff rushing around and in kitchens seem to put there own wellbeing before that of static customers sat freezing.

  8. AC is an unnecessary imported blight in our buildings causing many people definite discomfort and costing NHS

  9. We had an aircon unit fitted in our bedroom several years ago. We both work shifts which means we need to sleep in the day and the sun is on our bedroom from about midday meaning it gets very warm!
    One of the best things we’ve invested in!

  10. I’m afraid I do not agree with the comment from Valerie Alford. I live in a first floor south facing flat so when the weather hots up the temperature in the flat skyrockets, and I know the gentleman in the flat above suffers from temperatures of over 30 degrees when we have a hot summer. Several years ago I had ceiling fans installed in my bedroom, and in the lounge, but they only seem to move the hot air around, leaving windows open? Well yes, all my windows are open, yet they just let in hot air, and it doesn’t really fall even at night. So, if I could afford to I’d definitely have air con installed. But I can’t so I’ll just have to suffer, or go to the park and sit under a tree.

    1. Hello Briony

      I found your name on the internet and wonder if you are the daughter of Percival amd Mary Randell. We could be third cousins. If you have an interest in family history you might like to contact me.

  11. Thanks for all your comments! It’s great to find out what you’re thinking about air con. I have to agree with the majority here; air con does seem a little strange for me personally as we tend to have cooler summers in the UK but with climate change affecting our weather (crazy winds lately anyone?!), who knows what the future has in store. Those hotter summers might be closer than we think and it’s definitely important to keep cool, especially for children and the elderly.


  12. & Sean, glad to hear air con has helped you sleep in the day. My father works shifts too and he always used to complain about not being able to sleep in the heat.


  13. You all ought to come and stay in my home during one hot day to realise that some comments just do not apply! I have black out blinds over one side of my home over new argon filled windows. I keep windows open wherever there is cooler air than is inside. I have tried air conditioning units (portable), air coolers and fans. Even so, the temperature keeps rising to 30c and is unbearable!

    1. Oh dear, not great Sandy! I feel you with the hot weather that we’ve been having! Those units don’t always do the job.

  14. Just had air con installed in my studio (I work from home), and will add two more next spring to use the same external unit. My problem was that I often work late into the evening, leaving windows open just lets all the bugs in and still it was too hot. Open windows were also a security risk when I’m not in but my computers are busy. A nice feature is remote operation from anywhere via my Android phone.

    Modern air conditioners have digital compressors so they can just tick over gently once a room is comfortable, they are much more efficient than the old “on or off” air conditioners you may have seen on holiday.

    1. Thanks for this Colin. I completely get where you’re coming from with the bugs coming in as soon as you leave the windows open!

  15. If looked after and maintained, air conditioning shouldn’t be an overly costly asset to your house, and is very good for climates where it is stuffy. Air con and dehumidifiers are fantastic for removing mold in the home as well, so all in all more pros than cons!

  16. Your blog is very informative . In summer season , air conditioning is become part of our daily life. But we have to care when we use air conditioning because sometimes it creates bad effects on our health.

  17. I don’t understand the comments saying that air conditioning causes global warming, wastes energy, raises costs etc. – yes of course using an air conditioner (unnecessarily) does, but installing/ buying one doesn’t! It just gives you the option. If it’s not unbearably hot, don’t turn it on – and your energy bill will stay the same.

    We have two portable units, one for the main bedroom and one for the living room. 48 weeks of the year, they are turned off and have no impact on our energy usage. The other 4 weeks, they are a godsend. I can’t sleep if it’s excessively hot, which not only makes me grumpy, but makes it difficult for me to do my job. If I didn’t have air conditioning, on the very hottest days I would have to either hire one or go and stay in a hotel, so the cost of having and running an air conditioner is nothing in comparison.

    Just because you own one, doesn’t mean you have to use it excessively or make it as freezing cold as cinemas, offices etc. that people complain about. If you need to use it, use as much as you need. If you don’t, then don’t and just having it sitting idle uses no energy. I honestly don’t know why people would not want to have the option. It makes no sense to me to pretend that you’re tough and have a stiff upper lip and prove that you can endure uncomfortable temperatures.

  18. The air conditioner is an environmental nightmare 3d only to outdoor warmers! Exact sustainable construction can offer solutions along with single glazing, trickle ventilation, roof overhang. There may be no want to burn greater fossil fuel to electrically cool air.

  19. With air conditioning, you create an atmosphere of pure, healthy and fresh air, where you feel comfortable not only – but also live healthier. Air conditioning units filters pollen, dust and dirt particles from the air.

  20. Do you know if it is dangerous to have your aircon on whilst the central heating is winding down ?

    Just got a unit installed last week due to hot flushed at night and it is worth every penny ! Roll on the summer !

  21. It is extremely important to own a A/C, as it also acts as an de-humidifier, whihc is great as due to humid environment, your house is prone to mold and algae growth, and it can create problems with furnaces, air filters, drain lines in the HVAC system.

  22. Thanks for pointing out that we should get an AC unit already if the fan cannot relieve the heat that we are experiencing already. I guess I have to show this tip to my husband so that he will be convinced that it is too hot already. I almost fainted yesterday because of the heat while I was cooking our lunch meal. We probably need to hire professionals to install one when he’s convinced.

  23. Those saying a/c is an environmental nightmare should consider its benefits for heating. Yes, heating. Modern units from Panasonic etc. can generate well over 4 units of heating from one unit of electricity in winter, operating as an air to air heat pump. Provided you only use it for cooling on the hottest few summer days, both you and the environment will be beneficiaries. Just make sure you get an efficient unit with a long warranty. The cheapest ones aren’t efficient or reliable.

  24. Just to point out, air-con uses electricity, and in the UK, we are invcreasingly using less fossil fuel generated energy, we even had a number of days where we never burned any fossil fuels to generate power this year…. air-con, coupled with solar panels on your roof (the hotter it gets, generally the sunnier it will be) can mean little power usage……. in the winter months, it can be used to heat the home…which, if the power is coming from renewables (if you are an eco warrior, i’m guessing you’d be on a green supplier, like ecotricity, huh?), then its much ‘greener’ than using a traditional gas condensing boiler..

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