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Last updated: 18th March, 2024


Air Conditioning Costs

Air Conditioning Costs

Key takeaways

  • Air conditioning costs in 2024 depend on unit type, installation, and operational factors.
  • Energy-efficient features and performance metrics significantly influence cost-effectiveness.
  • Understanding personal cooling needs and installation intricacies is crucial for an informed purchase.

In discussing air conditioning, it's important to understand the different systems available, how these systems operate, and their key components that play crucial roles in cooling your environment.

Investing in air conditioning is both a comfort and a necessity for many in 2024. With temperatures fluctuating and the need for a controlled environment increasing, understanding the intricacies of air conditioning costs is imperative. 

As technology advances, so does the range of options available to consumers, each coming with its own set of features and efficiencies. It is imperative for buyers to be aware of the different types of air conditioning units, their installation costs, and the factors that affect their overall pricing.

The costs associated with air conditioning units can vary widely depending on several variables, such as the type of system one opts for – be it a split system, a portable air conditioner, or a ducted system. 

The choice hinges not just on immediate affordability but also on the long-term running costs and the intended use. In addition, the price range for installation services is influenced by regional specificities and other service cost components like the cost of refrigerants and the hourly charges of engineers. A careful examination of these factors, a comprehension of your specific air home cooling needs, and knowledge of efficiency and performance metrics can inform a wise investment.

Cost-saving strategies are part and parcel of the decision-making process concerning air conditioning. Buyers are advised to consider the advantages of energy-efficient units and the potential returns over time with reduced electricity bills. 

Coupled with understanding the installation process and additional operational features that modern units offer, these considerations help in making an informed choice tailored to individual circumstances.

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Understanding Air Conditioning

In discussing air conditioning, it's important to understand the different systems available, how these systems operate, and their key components that play crucial roles in cooling your environment.

Types of Air Conditioners

The market offers a variety of air conditioning types to cater to diverse needs, ranging from personal spaces to large commercial buildings. Some widely used options include:

  • Split System Air Conditioners: Ideal for single rooms, split systems have an outdoor unit with a compressor and an indoor unit that emits cool air.

  • Multi-Split System Air Conditioners: Similar to split systems but can cool multiple rooms with several indoor units connected to a single outdoor unit.

  • Portable Air Conditioners: These are standalone units that can be moved from room to room and typically vent through a window.

  • Central Air Conditioning Systems: Designed for large spaces, these systems distribute cool air through a network of ducts.

Each type of air conditioner is rated by British Thermal Units (BTUs), which measure the unit's cooling capacity—the higher the BTU rating, the larger the area the unit can cool efficiently.

How Air Conditioning Works

Air conditioning systems operate on the principle of heat transfer. They remove heat from indoor air and expel it outside, leaving the interior cooler. The basic cycle involves:

  1. Evaporation: The indoor unit's evaporator coil absorbs heat from the air, cooling it down.

  2. Compression: The absorbed heat is then transferred to refrigerant and delivered to the outdoor unit's compressor.

  3. Condensation: The outdoor unit's condenser facilitates the release of the heat to the outside air.

  4. Expansion: Finally, the refrigerant is cooled down before it returns to the evaporator to start the cycle anew.

Key Components of an Air Conditioning System

Air conditioners comprise several critical components that contribute to their operation:

  • Compressor: A component that pressurizes the refrigerant, which carries the heat from inside to outside.

  • Evaporator Coil: Situated in the indoor unit, it is responsible for absorbing heat from the air in your room.

  • Condenser Coil: Found in the outdoor unit, it releases the absorbed heat to the outside environment.

  • Thermostat: This device regulates the temperature by switching the air conditioning unit on and off based on the room's temperature.

Understanding these components and how they interlink provides insight into the efficiency and functionality of your air conditioning unit. Whether you're cooling a single room or an entire building, the choice of unit and its respective BTU rating are critical to effective climate control.

Factors Affecting Air Conditioning Costs

When considering the installation or replacement of an air conditioning system in 2024, it's imperative to understand various cost-influencing factors. Here is an in-depth exploration of the key elements that can affect air conditioning expenses.

Energy Efficiency Considerations

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is a vital metric that measures an air conditioner's performance. A higher SEER rating signifies greater energy efficiency, potentially reducing running costs over time. Although energy-efficient units are typically more expensive to purchase, they can offer significant savings on energy bills.

Size and Capacity Requirements

Air conditioning capacity, measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs), directly impacts cost. The size of the space and the air conditioning unit's capacity to cool it effectively must align. Inadequate capacity leads to inefficiency and higher energy consumption, whereas superfluous capacity can waste financial resources.

  • Small home office: 12,000 BTU

  • Double bedroom: 12,000 BTU

  • Cooling area per ton of capacity: 500 to 600 square feet

Table 1: Sizing Guide

Room Type

Capacity Required (BTUs)

Small Home Office


Double Bedroom


Installation Factors

The installation costs for air conditioning systems vary significantly based on:

  • Type of air conditioner system

  • Labour costs and time frames, with an average rate of £150 - £200 a day

  • Size of the house, influencing the duration and complexity of the job

Wall-mounted units usually take around 4 hours to install. Complex systems could demand more time and manpower.

Maintenance and Upkeep

Regular maintenance keeps HVAC systems running efficiently and prevents costly repairs. Neglecting this aspect leads to decreased efficiency and increased energy consumption. Professionals may charge on a per-visit basis or offer a service contract for ongoing maintenance.

Types of Air Conditioning Units and Their Costs

Choosing the right air conditioning unit involves navigating a range of options and prices. Installation costs can vary widely based on unit types, property size, and specific cooling needs.

Portable Air Conditioning Units

Portable air conditioners offer flexibility and convenience, suitable for small spaces and temporary cooling needs. Cost typically ranges from £150 to £350 for a freestanding unit, offering a spot cooler solution without the complexity of installation.

Window Air Conditioner Costs

A window air conditioner, typically installed in a window frame, provides a compact cooling solution for single rooms. Prices for these units can be found between £500 and £1,000, dependent on size and cooling capacity.

Split Air Conditioning System Costs

Split air conditioners embrace a dual unit system—one indoor and one outdoor—for efficient whole-room cooling. It costs between £1,500 and £2,500 for the installation in a double bedroom. A comprehensive multi-split system for a six-room property escalates to £5,000£9,000.

Ducted Air Conditioning System Costs

Ducted air conditioner systems are integrated throughout a property, hidden away in ceilings and capable of serving multiple rooms. The expenditure swings drastically from £1,380 up to £14,160, swayed by property size and system specifications.

New AC System Considerations

Purchasing a new AC system not only incurs the unit's price but also the fitting expense. Every installation is unique; factors such as property layout, unit type, and additional features like a heat pump—a unit costing £2,000 to £4,000—can influence the total financial outlay.

Measuring Efficiency and Performance

When evaluating air conditioning systems, the two pivotal aspects to investigate are their thermal efficiency and operational performance. These are quantified through a series of industry-standard metrics and ratings.

Understanding BTUs and Cooling Capacity

BTUs, or British Thermal Units, are the traditional units for measuring thermal energy. Specifically, in the context of air conditioners, 1 BTU equates to the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Thus, the cooling capacity of air conditioners, denoted in BTUs, reflects their ability to extract a certain amount of heat from an environment within one hour.

An air conditioner's output needs to align with the room size for optimal efficiency. For instance:

  • A small room may require an air conditioner with a capacity of 5,000 BTUs,

  • Whereas a large space may call for a unit rated at 12,000 BTUs or more.

It is critical to match the cooling capacity to the room size to prevent energy wastage or insufficient cooling.

Exploring SEER and EER Ratings

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) and Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) are key metrics used to gauge an air conditioner's efficiency. These ratings ascertain how well a unit translates electrical energy into cooling power:

  • SEER is the ratio of the cooling output over a typical cooling season divided by the electrical input, and it's calculated using a constant indoor temperature and variable outdoor temperatures.

  • EER, on the other hand, is calculated under specific conditions: a constant 95°F outside temperature and an inside (return air) temperature of 80°F with 50% relative humidity.

In 2024, highly efficient air conditioning units may boast a SEER rating upwards of 20, demonstrating that they are particularly effective at transforming electrical energy into cooling power without excessive consumption.

To put it in perspective:

Efficiency Rating

Indicative SEER Rating


Up to 14 SEER


15-20+ SEER

Units with higher SEER and EER ratings are generally more expensive upfront but can provide substantial savings in energy costs over time. Consumers should strive to invest in an air conditioner with the highest possible SEER and EER ratings within their budget, as it usually translates into reduced operational costs.

Cost-Saving Tips for Air Conditioning

In the quest for reducing energy bills and enhancing long-term savings, homeowners can adopt certain strategies. These practical steps can significantly cut costs while maintaining a comfortable indoor climate.

Improving Home Insulation

Investing in upgraded insulation is a powerful method to retain cool air inside the house. Common areas to insulate include:

  • Loft: Prevents hot air from seeping in, thus lessening the workload on air conditioners.

  • Walls: Cavity wall insulation can substantially reduce heat transfer.

  • Windows and Doors: Double glazing or sealing gaps around frames helps maintain temperature control.

With proper insulation, air conditioners operate more efficiently, driving down energy consumption and, consequently, energy bills.

Striving for Eco-Friendly Practices

Opting for environmentally friendly cooling solutions not only curtails energy expenditure but also favours the planet. Here are specific practices:

  • Thermostat Settings: Set air conditioners at a moderate temperature to minimise power use.

  • Energy-Efficient Units: Replace older units with energy-rated ones that consume less electricity.

These steps manifest in tangible long-term savings and bolster eco-friendly living.

Scheduling Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance ensures air conditioners are operating at peak efficiency. Components of a maintenance check include:

  • Cleaning/Replacing Filters: Dirty filters impede airflow, forcing the system to work harder.

  • Inspecting Coolant Levels: Adequate coolant levels are vital for efficient operation.

Proactive maintenance aids in averting costly repairs and lengthening the lifespan of the unit. Skilled technicians can identify issues early, which prevents small problems from escalating into major ones.

By implementing these cost-saving measures, individuals are well on their way to achieving a balance between comfort and economy.

The Installation Process Explained

Installing an air conditioning system involves several stages, each carrying its unique set of considerations. The cost will be influenced by the complexity of the installation, the type of system selected, and the qualifications of the professionals hired.

Choosing the Right Tradespeople and Contractors

Selecting the appropriate tradespeople and contractors is pivotal. HVAC professionals should be gas-certified and have a track record of successful installations. Recommendations and reviews can serve as reliable gauges of potential contractors.

  • Credentials: Verify their certifications and experience.

Understanding Supply and Labour Costs

Both supply and labour costs constitute a significant portion of the overall expense. For a single room, a room air conditioner (RAC) system's supply cost starts at approximately £350, while labour costs can range from £1,100 to £1,500 for full installation.

  • Labour Rates: Expect to pay £150 - £200 per day for a certified tradesperson.

  • Supply Prices: These vary depending on the system type, from single units to multi-split systems.

Navigating Additional Installation Costs

Additional costs may arise during installation. These could include electrical upgrades, modifications to existing structures, and the potential need for additional equipment or materials.

  • Electrical Upgrades: If necessary, they could add to the project cost.

  • Structural Modifications: May incur charges depending on the complexity.

  • Equipment and Materials: Extra items like ductwork add to the supply costs.

When planning the installation of an air conditioning system, it is essential to budget carefully, not only for the primary supply and labour expenses but also for the less obvious additional costs that might emerge.

Operational Features and Add-Ons

Modern air conditioners offer a myriad of operational features and add-ons designed to provide enhanced comfort, improved efficiency, and greater convenience. These integral components and functionalities contribute significantly to the tailored cooling experience and energy management in various settings.

Remote Control and Smart Features

Remote control functionality is no longer a luxury but a standard for most air conditioning units today. They enable users to adjust settings without needing to approach the unit—a convenience that is particularly appreciated in larger rooms or when the air conditioner is mounted in a hard-to-reach spot. Moreover, smart features have rapidly evolved, and many air conditioning systems can now be integrated with home automation systems. This integration allows for temperature adjustments through a smartphone or even voice commands, as well as through traditional remotes.

  • Timer: Often included in the smart capabilities, a timer can be programmed to turn the unit on or off at specific times.

  • Sleep or Night Mode: This function reduces operational noise and adjusts temperature gradually in line with natural sleeping patterns.

Cooling Modes and Special Functions

The versatility of an air conditioner is reflected in the various cooling modes it offers. By selecting the appropriate mode, one can ensure that the air conditioning fits the unique requirements of their environment.

  • Cool Mode: The standard setting for reducing the temperature inside a room.

  • Ventilation Systems: Some AC units include separate ventilation to cycle fresh air into the space.

  • Spot Cooler: A feature useful for directing cooling to specific areas, rather than cooling an entire room.

  • Additional Features such as Drain Hose: Integral for expelling condensation, a drain hose is especially important in high-humidity regions to maintain the efficiency of the unit.

The array of special functions extends the adaptability of air conditioners, such as regulating moisture with built-in dehumidifiers or filtering air to remove impurities. Consumers now have the possibility to customize their cooling experience not only to the temperature but also to air quality and humidity levels.

Determining Your Air Conditioning Needs

Selecting the correct air conditioning system hinges on accurately assessing a room's dimensions and the broader environmental climate. These are vital to ensuring efficient cooling and operation cost-effectiveness.

Assessing Room Size and Layout

The size of the room is one of the foremost considerations in determining the capacity of the air conditioner required. An air conditioner's cooling power is often measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs), where a higher number of BTUs indicates a greater cooling capacity. For instance, a small office may demand between 5,000 to 6,000 BTUs, while a large living area might need upwards of 12,000 BTUs.

The room's layout further influences the effectiveness of air circulation. Open-plan areas may require more powerful systems or the use of additional fans to assist in even air distribution. Conversely, for rooms with a compact design, strategic placement of the air conditioner can provide cool air more directly and efficiently.

Evaluating Climate and Environmental Conditions

Climate plays a pivotal role in the selection of an appropriate air conditioning system. In regions characterised by intense heat, a more robust system with a greater capacity for consistent cooling will be necessary. On the other hand, areas with milder temperatures could find more cost-effective solutions to be sufficient.

Environmental conditions, including humidity levels and local heat sources like large windows or proximity to kitchen areas, may necessitate air conditioners with specific features, such as built-in dehumidifiers or enhanced filters. In coastal areas where there is a higher likelihood of salt corrosion, models resistant to such damage should be considered to optimise the lifespan of the air conditioning system.

Final Considerations Before Purchasing

Before committing to a specific air conditioning system in 2024, it's paramount to consider its long-term value and future costs. These final considerations can be the difference between a prudent investment and a costly mistake.

Projecting Long-Term Value

When evaluating long-term savings, a permanent air conditioner is often more cost-effective relative to a standalone unit. These systems, while initially expensive, tend to have longer lifespans and more robust warranties. Conversely, standalone units with wheels offer convenience and flexibility but might not deliver the same efficiency over time. If the air conditioner also includes a heating mode, this dual functionality can provide additional value, minimising the need for separate heating devices.

Weighing Upgrades and Future Costs

Investment in an air conditioning system doesn't end at purchase. Future costs, such as potential upgrades or maintenance, should be factored into the total cost of ownership. For instance, a unit with a higher SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating is typically more efficient, leading to lower running costs which should be balanced against the initial outlay. It is also wise to consider Energy Star certification, indicating lower future energy expenditures.

By meticulously assessing these aspects, buyers will be well-positioned to select an air conditioning system that not only meets their immediate needs but proves to be a beneficial investment in the long term.

Remember: Air Con Units can Heat as Well as Cool

Many are unaware that air conditioners like the Daikin Sensira are not just for cooling. They're quite capable of heating spaces efficiently during colder months.

Conclusion - AC installation with iHeat

When selecting the Daikin Sensira or Worcester Bosch Climate 3000i Air Con for your home, you are choosing a unit renowned for its efficiency and performance. iHeat's installation service enhances the appeal of this air conditioning system, offering a streamlined process tailored to the needs of residential properties.

Daikin Sensira's features at a glance:

  • Seasonal Efficiency: Achieves A to A++ ratings in cooling and A to A+ in heating, indicating superior energy performance.

  • User Control: Optional Onecta app compatibility allows for remote operation.

  • Quiet Operation: Noise levels can be as low as 20 dBA, ensuring minimal disruption.

iHeat - fast, easy and safe

  • Answer a few simple questions about your home (don’t worry, it only takes 60 seconds).

  • Choose from our range of ac units to cool and heat your home.

  • Pop the kettle on, we’ll take it from here. Our expert engineers will install your new ac unit. Thanks to our fully inclusive after care, you won't have to worry about a thing.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal temperature for a room aircon?

The optimal temperature for an air conditioner in a room should balance comfort and efficiency. In the UK, a setting of 24-25°C during warmer months is often recommended.

How expensive is it to run an air conditioner?

Operating a 12,000 BTU air conditioner around the clock can cost between £108 and £216 per month. These figures are influenced by the specific electricity tariffs and the unit's efficiency.

Is it worth getting air conditioning in the UK?

Yes, as British summers have become hotter, the value of air conditioning has increased. It offers controlled comfort in homes and enhances productivity in workspaces.

Do air conditioners use a lot of electricity?

Air conditioners can be among the more significant electricity users in a home. The exact consumption depends on the unit size, efficiency, and usage patterns.

Is it cheaper to run fans or AC?

Running fans is generally cheaper than air conditioning. However, fans only circulate air rather than lower the temperature, making air conditioners more effective in hotter conditions.

Why is AC so expensive to run?

AC systems consume more energy due to their cooling processes. The cost is heightened when units are poorly maintained or not tailored to the size of the space they're cooling.

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Article by
Stephen Day | Co-founder
Gas Safe registered and FGAS certified engineer with over 20 years experience in the heating and cooling industry.