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Air Conditioning Costs: Unit Prices and Cost of Running

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Getting your house fitted with an air conditioner may sound like a luxury, with hot weather being few and far between in the UK. However, during the summer months, it’ll become a necessity when you’re struggling to get a good night sleep in the uncomfortable heat.

A cooling system is a great addition to a property, making the sporadic heatwaves bearable. You can also use many modern air conditioners to increase the temperature of a room using a heat pump.

Before rushing to purchase a unit impulsively, ensure you research the costs involved first to determine whether there’s room for it in your budget. As well as the initial price of buying the unit, you have to consider the ongoing running costs of the air conditioner.

In this guide, BOXT has broken down the varying expenses associated with air conditioning units and the factors that can influence the overall costs.

The cost of different air conditioning types

There are three main air conditioning types in the UK with varying purchase, installation, and running costs.

  • Portable air conditioners

These standalone units are cheaper to purchase, ranging from around £200 to £600 and don’t call for professional installation fees as you can just place them on the floor. Although, you may need to fix a window kit to the device so it can remove moisture from the air.

Portable air conditioners aren’t as effective at cooling as other types, which may encourage you to keep it running for longer and on the highest power setting, which can increase your energy bills. Ideally, these types of air conditioners are for occasional use and are especially convenient to renters.  

  • Split air conditioners 


These models entail a professional fitting one component inside and the other on the property’s exterior. Although the installation process is more complex and expensive than portable units, it’s still reasonably straightforward.

Split air conditioners are also more expensive than portable units to buy and often cost between £1,000 and £2,000 when fully installed, depending on how many units you need.

However, they operate more efficiently, with many having climate control features. You can also easily manage the device using a remote control.

On top of this, these units usually include built-in functions to personalise the settings, such as night mode and timers.

  • Central air conditioning


A duct is installed throughout existing walls, making them most suitable to new homes or if you’re remodelling a property, and includes an outdoor compressor. This type of unit is the most expensive to buy, costing up to £4,000, but is often used to cool an entire property. It also has high energy efficiency ratings. 

Running costs

The running costs of an air conditioner depend on the unit’s size and other quality, but it can reach up to 43p an hour. Recent reports estimate that using an air conditioner for eight hours a day would cost over £100 per month.

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What can affect the cost? 


There are several ways that you can accidentally end up increasing the running costs of air conditioning. Still, you can also lower the ongoing expense by modifying your usage and choosing a suitable unit.


  • Air conditioner size


Installing an appropriately sized air conditioner based on your room’s dimensions will regulate your energy bills. However, if the unit is too small, it will work harder than necessary to try and cool the room down effectively, which would waste energy and fail to achieve the desired results.

In contrast, if the air conditioner is too large for the space, it’ll cool the room down too quickly and then turn off before having time to remove the moisture from the air. Once the area has increased in temperature again, the unit will turn on again. This constant on-and-off cycle will waste energy.

To calculate which size of air conditioner you need, find the floor square footage of the space and multiply the figure by 25 to find the BTU (British Thermal Unit).

  • Efficient usage 


To use your air conditioner more efficiently to lower your energy bills, follow the below tips: 

  • Close the doors and windows 
  • Adjust the temperature through seasonal changes
  • Clear the area around the unit to avoid blocking the airflow
  • Place other heat sources (e.g. lamps, ovens) away from the thermostat and sensors 
  • Keep the sun out by closing the curtains or blinds on sun-facing windows
  • Connect the device to smart technology for more convenient management of your usage.

As well as this, only keep the air conditioner on when you need it and are occupying the space, and don’t forget to turn it off when you leave the room.

  • Property insulation

If the property isn’t well-insulated, outside air will seep into your home, and the cool air produced from the air conditioner will escape, rendering the unit ineffective. This result would be similar to opening the windows in winter while your central heating is on, wasting energy and making the home temperature uncomfortable.

It’ll likely cause you to keep the air conditioner running for longer than is necessary, which would hike up your energy bill without sufficiently cooling down the room.

To avoid energy wastage, insulate the roof, ceiling, walls, pipes, and install double-glazed windows too.

  • Air conditioner maintenance

Carrying out regular maintenance of the unit will enhance the lifespan and keep it running efficiently. Here are some ways to care for your air conditioner:

  • Arrange annual services
  • Check the vents of ducted air conditioners
  • Regularly replacing and cleaning the filters
  • Check the evaporator coil annually and clean where necessary
  • Cover it during winter
  • Hire an engineer to check and repair any issues immediately

Preserving the unit’s condition will minimise repair costs and avoid expensive breakdowns, which could cause you to replace it prematurely. Ideally, you should only replace your system every ten years with a more advanced unit to lower your energy usage.

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  • Energy rating


When browsing units, compare energy rating labels on the different products and ideally choose an air conditioner with a rating between seven and ten stars. A higher rating shows it will operate more effectively and economically, to avoid wasting energy.

An air conditioner would provide huge relief to you through the summer heatwaves, especially if your home doesn’t have an outdoor area. Before investing in a cooling system, factor the initial purchase price of the unit and the long-term monthly running costs into your decision process.


Get a fixed price quote for an air conditioner

For further advice on the cost of an air conditioning system, speak to a BOXT engineer on the live chat and use the ‘find an AC’ online tool to receive a fixed price quote for a suitable unit for your property, including installation.

If you aren’t able to cover the entire cost upfront, select the ‘pay monthly’ option at the checkout. You can pay a deposit of up to 50% of the total price to lower your monthly costs, which will occur over a five or ten-year term, at an APR of 10.90%.

As long as you finish the payment process or sign the finance agreement before 3.30pm you can book an installation slot for the very next day.

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