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Pros and cons of installing an air con unit in the UK and how to run it efficiently

By Mel Powers | Posted July 06, 2021

If you live in the UK and are trying to keep your home cool during a sweltering British summer, read on to learn about AC unit benefits, energy efficiency, and running costs. 

With summer finally on the way, many of us are looking forward to enjoying the best of the warm weather. However, with more of us working from home, keeping your home office space at the perfect temperature can be a real challenge with the UK summer heat soaring. As a result, many people wonder if an energy-efficient air conditioner is what they need.

Home air conditioning units are a great way to beat the heat and are suitable for most homes. It can also benefit your health, comfort, and well-being. But is it worth it just for a few months of those balmy days?

The great news about energy-efficient air conditioners is that many air conditioning units have a cooling and heating function. So, when it comes to getting more out of your air-con, you can use it in winter months to heat a space without the need to fire up the central heating. Also, modern-day units are energy efficient and have smart connectivity, meaning you can control them remotely.

Air Conditioning the pros and cons

There are lots of benefits that come with an air conditioning unit.

Our favourites are:

  • Cleaner air in your home – high-density filters work extracting both large and fine dust particles, fibres, and animal hairs, as well as helping to reduce viruses, bacteria, and allergens
  • You can use your home air con unit to heat the room in winter and avoid turning on the central heating
  • Modern units are nice and quiet, meaning you won't be disturbed when you're working or trying to sleep
  • Smart controls make energy efficiency easy with functions that let you control units from your phone, meaning you don't have to worry about forgetting to turn it off
  • Utilise built-in AI to optimize based on usage patterns and preferences.
  • Many also act as climate control, which means the system starts and stops when it has reached the desired temperature

And the cons...?

  • They're a relatively expensive purchase
  • Energy usage could increase in the summer

So how much does air conditioning cost?

Buying a single air con unit is likely to cost you somewhere between £1250 to £2700[2]. This will depend on if you go for a budget or premium product and the unit size vs. the size of the space you're looking to cool.

Running your air con can cost anywhere between 14p to 30p per hour. This works out at roughly £25 - £36 per month based on 6 hours of usage per day for a single unit.

If you're wondering how efficient air conditioning is for keeping summer heat under control in the UK, modern systems have come a long way, and over time, the unit will pay for itself. A++ units are a more energy-efficient way of cooling and heating your home. We've teamed up with BOXT to offer customers Samsung units that include fast cooling and smart controls, helping you set the perfect temperature.

How to get the best out of your air con unit and keep the costs down

Here are our top tips for keeping you cool at home with your air con whilst minimising the impact on your wallet and the environment:

What temperature should you set your air con at?

Whilst it's tempting to blast the cold air, this isn't very energy efficient, so we would recommend setting your unit to around 18-19ºC, which most people find comfortable.

Use your smarts!

Most modern air conditioning units come armed with various smart tech. Whether it's remote control over your smart thermostats or intuitive AI and timers, you can just set, sit back and relax.

Keep it clean

Regular servicing and changing your air filters helps to save energy whilst removing dust particles, which can prevent damage to your unit.

While you were sleeping…

Adjust the temperature at night when you're sleeping. Even consider letting Mother Nature pick up some of the slack by opening a few windows when the air is already cooler, which will stop your unit from working when it doesn't need to be.

All a bit shady…

Sounds obvious, but closing blinds or pulling curtains can have a huge impact on lessening how hard your air conditioning unit works, saving you energy and money.

The heat is on…

Limit heat-emitting appliances where you can. Our essential appliances emit more heat than you’d think, causing your air conditioning to work harder. Turn off any TVs, computers, printers, and tumble dryers where you can and save on your energy bill and your wallet.

Location, location, location

Consider where you place your thermostat. If it's too near to heat-producing appliances or sunny windows, it will impact how it accurately gauges the overall temperature of the space you are trying to cool, again, making your air con work harder.


It may seem counterproductive, but insulation does more than keep the cold out; it also helps to keep the cool in. Seal gaps in windows and doors or consider a more permanent solution of cavity wall insulation, loft insulation or energy-efficient windows.

Learn to switch off

Take the hassle out of remembering to switch off your air conditioning and set your smart controls, especially if you know you are not home at certain times. And don’t forget, with all that smart tech, you can turn off (or on) your unit remotely.

Portable air con unit running costs

Portable air con units work best in rooms that are 775 sq. ft. in size or smaller, meaning they're perfect for use in bedrooms and suitable for all but the very largest open-plan home.

The actual wattage of portable air con units varies – they can be as low as 750W or as much as 1500W, so check the specifications in the product description before buying.

Based on some of the most popular units on the market, the average power rating is approximately 1175W, but they actually use around 1050W while running on their highest setting. They also use more when first powering up – about 1500W when switched on – and generally consume around 1W when left on standby.

To determine how much a portable air conditioner will cost to run, first, you need to convert the wattage into kilowatt hours (kWh). To do this, divide the wattage by 1,000 – this tells you how many kilowatt hours of electricity the unit will use in one hour.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, the average cost for 1kWh of electricity in the UK in 2023 is £0.34. If you use it for longer than that, multiply the cost by how many hours you expect it to run daily. 

An average portable AC unit consumes 1.176 kWh of electricity per hour when in use. That works out to about 7.05 kWh daily if the unit is continuously used for six hours. This would cost around £2.40 per day to run, going on average 2023 UK electricity prices.

Thinking about buying? Great news is we currently have an offer Save £50 off any new air con unit

We've teamed up with BOXT to offer you fixed-price air conditioning units, including installation.

Head to air con offer

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