How energy efficient is air conditioning?

Energy Efficiency

We’re often asked whether installing air conditioning will push up energy bills.

The short answer is that air conditioning systems run on electricity, so naturally there is a cost – just as there is for your dishwasher, freezer or any other household installation.

However, the good news is that with advances in technology, the energy efficiency of air conditioning units is improving all the time, and accordingly running costs are coming down.

If, for example, you replaced an air conditioner from 10 years ago with a newer, more efficient model, you could expect to save between 20% to 40% of your cooling energy costs.

It comes down to having the right advice when choosing the best system for your needs. Too underpowered and it will struggle, while over large units will perform less efficiently than a properly sized unit and will use more electricity too.

To find an air conditioning system that is more environmentally friendly and energy-efficient, you should check the energy efficiency ratio (EER). This is the ratio between the cooling capacity, in British Thermal Units (BTU) per hour, and the power input, in watts. The higher the EER, the more energy-efficient the air conditioner.

In terms of actual cost, this depends on the output of the unit you choose, but for example, a 6kW air conditioning system may use only around 2KW of electricity, which is about 30p per hour – and don’t forget, you don’t need to leave your air conditioning on constantly. Based on a popular model of air-con rated at 7000 BTU, the energy cost for six hours a day would be around £25 a month.

If you want a rough guide to how much air conditioning costs to run per hour, see below.

Air conditioning outputRoom sizeCost to run per hour


To make your air conditioning more environmentally friendly, you can also switch to an eco-friendly green tariff. This alone will bring down your running costs by roughly 30 per cent and will also help reduce carbon emissions.

Air conditioning is a great option if you have solar panels, running costs will be minimal during the day and even during summer evenings, particularly If you leave your doors and windows closed!

A final word about cost. With global warming and hotter summers, air conditioning is more popular than ever and is becoming a must-have for home buyers. So, if you install a high quality, energy-efficient system, you are more than likely to recoup some if not all of your investment when you sell your home.

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