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Last updated: 20th February, 2024

Guides

Can I Have Air Conditioning and a Gas Boiler?

Can I Have Air Conditioning and a Gas Boiler?

Key takeaways

  • Adding air conditioning to a home with a gas boiler is possible and offers combined heating and cooling solutions.
  • Consider factors such as efficiency, system options, and installation when deciding on the right air conditioning system.
  • Options like mini-split systems and high-velocity air conditioners are well-suited for homes with boilers.

Achieve year-round comfort in your boiler-heated home by integrating efficient air conditioning systems. Explore different system options, smart technologies, and maintenance tips to maximise comfort and energy efficiency.

Homeowners who rely on a gas boiler for their heating needs might wonder if it's possible to add air conditioning to their home. The quest for a comfortable living space often extends beyond just heating as the desire to stay cool during the warmer months becomes a priority.

With advancements in technology, it is now entirely possible to have both air conditioning and a gas boiler in the same home, offering a comprehensive heating and cooling solution.

Combining the two systems requires careful consideration of the efficiency and options available, as well as installation factors.

For many homes, a mini-split system serves as an ideal choice for cooling, as it is a ductless system that can be installed without interfering with the existing gas boiler setup. These systems can also double as a backup heating source in case the boiler fails.

Alternatively, homeowners may consider high-velocity air conditioners, which utilise tiny vents and smaller ducts, making installation easier in homes with boiler systems.


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Heating and Cooling Systems

Boiler Systems

Boiler systems are a popular method of heating homes, particularly in regions with colder climates. They utilise hot water or steam to distribute heat throughout the home via radiators or underfloor heating. The boiler, which is typically powered by natural gas, oil, or electricity, heats the water before it is circulated around the radiators or underfloor pipes.

One of the main advantages of boiler systems is their efficiency in providing even, consistent warmth.

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However, they lack the ductwork necessary for traditional central air conditioning systems, which may cause homeowners to question their cooling options.

Air Conditioning Systems

Despite the absence of ductwork in homes with boiler systems, there are still possibilities for air conditioning. One solution is the ductless mini-split system, an energy-efficient and flexible choice for homeowners.

These systems consist of an outdoor condenser unit and indoor air handlers, allowing for easy installation with minimal disruption to the home's structure. The indoor air handlers can be mounted on walls or ceilings, and the small 3-inch holes for the conduit housing merge the indoor and outdoor components, carrying refrigerant tubing and power cables.

Ductless mini-split systems offer several benefits, including individual room temperature control, minimal energy loss, and reduced noise levels. They typically provide energy savings with SEER ratings up to 15.5 or 16, ensuring improved overall cooling efficiency.

Moreover, the absence of ducts mitigates the risk of energy loss through leaks or poor insulation. As a result, homeowners with boiler systems can still enjoy a comfortable, air-conditioned living environment without the need for traditional central air conditioning systems.

However, it's essential to consider the size and layout of the home when determining the suitability of a ductless mini-split system. Larger homes or those with several distinct zones may require multiple condenser units and air handlers to achieve the desired level of comfort.

Finally, it's always a good idea to consult with a professional HVAC specialist to determine the best heating and cooling solution for your specific needs.

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Efficiency and Options

Energy Efficient Technologies

In the pursuit of better energy efficiency, various air conditioning technologies can be used alongside a gas boiler. One popular option is a heat pump, which moves warm air to cool down spaces in the summertime while providing heat in the winter. This system can offer significant energy cost savings, as it typically uses less electricity compared to conventional air conditioning units.

Another effective solution is a ductless mini-split system, which can serve as both an efficient cooling option and a supplemental heating source. These systems consist of an outdoor compressor connected to multiple indoor air-handling units, allowing for individual room temperature control. Ductless mini-split systems are known for their high energy efficiency and minimal noise.

Ductwork and Zoning

When considering air conditioning options for a home with a gas boiler, it's important to know that traditional central air conditioning systems require ductwork to distribute cool air throughout the home. However, some homes with boiler heating systems lack the necessary ductwork infrastructure. In these cases, a ductless mini-split system offers an ideal solution, as it doesn't need ducts and instead relies on individual indoor air handlers to cool specific areas or zones within the home.

Zoning is another key consideration for air conditioning installations, especially when trying to maintain a balance between energy costs and comfort. By dividing the home into separate zones, each with its own thermostat, homeowners can better regulate indoor temperatures, minimising wasted energy and associated costs. This is particularly beneficial in homes heated by gas boilers, where different areas may have varying heating requirements.

Sizing and Selection

The appropriate selection and sizing of an air conditioning system are critical factors in ensuring optimum efficiency. HVAC professionals can assist homeowners in determining the right system size by conducting a load calculation, taking into account factors such as square footage, insulation, number of occupants and more.

In the context of homes with gas boiler heating systems, it's essential to choose an air conditioning solution that caters to the home's unique needs. This could mean opting for a ductless mini-split system, which doesn't rely on existing ductwork, or exploring other air conditioning options, such as natural gas-powered systems, which can lower energy costs and provide a more eco-friendly choice. Ultimately, a properly sized and selected air conditioning system will offer efficient cooling while complementing the existing gas boiler, creating a comfortable living environment for residents.

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Installation Considerations

Choosing a Contractor

Selecting the right contractor is a vital step in ensuring the successful installation of an air conditioning system alongside a gas boiler. Look for a competent and experienced HVAC professional who understands the complexities involved in such projects. They should be familiar with boiler systems, plumbing, and the integration of different air conditioning options. Remember to ask for references, read reviews, and obtain multiple quotes before finalising your choice.

It's essential to discuss your requirements and expectations with the contractor, including the desired level of cool air, thermostat settings, and how the air conditioning system will coexist with your gas boiler. They can advise on the best course of action to minimise disruption and ensure an efficient, optimal installation.

Renovation Factors

Installing air conditioning in a home with a gas boiler might require some renovations. However, several factors can help minimise the extent of these changes if considered early:

  • Windows and doors: Ensure that all windows and doors are properly sealed to prevent air leakage. The better insulated your home, the more effective your air conditioning will be, and the less costly any necessary renovations.

  • Plumbing: If the installation requires any modifications to the plumbing system, consult your contractor and discuss viable solutions that don't disrupt your home's original plumbing.

  • Basement: The location of the boiler system, typically in the basement, could impact the air conditioning system installation. Your contractor should assess the space and determine a suitable area for the air conditioning components to avoid any negative impact on your boiler.

Air conditioning options such as ductless mini-split systems can be installed with minimal disruption compared to traditional central air conditioning. An experienced contractor will be able to recommend the most suitable system for your home, taking into account the renovation factors listed above.

By carefully considering these aspects, you can achieve a successful installation of an air conditioning system alongside your gas boiler while minimising disruptions and extra costs.

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Types of Systems

Air Handlers and Coils

Air handlers, also referred to as fan coils, are units that circulate conditioned air throughout your home. These systems work in conjunction with an outdoor condenser and, depending on the configuration, can provide both heating and cooling. Evaporator coils are located within the air handler unit and are responsible for transferring heat between the air and the refrigerant. The cost of such a system can vary, depending on the specific type, make, and model of equipment.

Mini-Split Systems

A mini-split system is a popular alternative for homes with boiler-heated homes. These systems consist of an outdoor condenser and indoor air handlers, which are typically wall-mounted and do not require ductwork. Mini-split systems can provide both cooling and heating in targeted areas, making them efficient and cost-effective; however, their initial costs can be higher compared to more traditional air conditioning systems.

Forced-Air and Radiator Systems

Forced-air systems distribute heated or cooled air through ducts in your home, while radiator systems use a series of baseboard radiators or cast-iron radiators to distribute heat. If your home has a gas boiler, it is likely to have a radiator system in place. Adding air conditioning to a home with a boiler and radiator system can prove to be more challenging, as there may be a need for additional infrastructure to support the installation.

In forced-air systems, an air conditioner can be integrated into the existing ductwork, allowing for a seamless installation process. Conversely, radiator systems might necessitate modifications to accommodate air conditioning components, like installing an outdoor condenser and a network of mini-split units, air handlers, or fan coil units.

Which type of system you choose will depend on your unique needs, your home's infrastructure, and your budget. Each option has its pros and cons, so it is advised to consult with a professional HVAC technician to determine the best solution for your home.

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Maintenance and Upgrades

Insulating Your Home

Proper insulation is key in maintaining a comfortable temperature in your home when using both air conditioning and a gas boiler system. Insulation helps to minimise heat gains during summer and heat losses during winter. It is essential to check the insulation in your home, particularly in the walls, floors, and ceilings. Ensuring that your home is well-insulated will not only improve the efficiency of both your air conditioning and boiler systems but also help you save on energy costs.

Replacing Components

Over time, components of your air conditioning and boiler systems, such as coils, air handlers, and pipes, may wear out or become less efficient. Regular maintenance and timely replacement of these components are crucial for the optimal performance of your systems.

Coils: The coils in your air conditioning system are responsible for the transfer of heat. Cleaning the coils regularly and replacing them when necessary will ensure that your system runs efficiently.

Air handlers: Air handlers help circulate the cooled or heated air throughout your home. To maintain efficient operation, it's important to clean and inspect them periodically for signs of wear and damage.

Pipes: Both boiler systems and central air conditioning systems use pipes to transfer fluids. Inspecting and maintaining these pipes will prevent leaks and ensure that your systems continue to function effectively.

In homes with boiler systems, traditional ductwork may be lacking. However, homeowners can still enjoy the comforts of air conditioning by installing systems that do not require ducts, such as ductless mini-split systems. These systems serve a dual purpose as they not only help cool your home but can also provide additional heating, acting as a backup to your boiler system if needed.

In conclusion, conducting regular maintenance and upgrades to your home's insulation and system components will optimise the performance of both your air conditioning and gas boiler systems. With proper care, you can enjoy a comfortable living environment while saving on energy costs.

Alternatives and Additional Features

Window Units and Portable Systems

When considering air conditioning options for homes with gas boilers, window units and portable systems are viable options. Window units are self-contained systems that can be easily installed in most windows. They offer energy-efficient cooling solutions and can help reduce the demand on the existing gas boiler when heating is not necessary. Portable systems can be moved from room to room and do not require professional installation. Both window units and portable systems serve as cost-effective alternatives to larger HVAC systems.

Heat pumps also provide an energy-efficient option for homes with gas boilers. These systems work by transferring heat between the home and the outdoors. In the summer, heat pumps remove heat from the home and release it outdoors, while in the winter, they extract heat from outside and bring it into the home. This makes heat pumps suitable for year-round use, providing both heating and cooling services in one system.

Smart Thermostats

Implementing smart thermostats is another way to enhance the efficiency of a home with a gas boiler and air conditioning. These devices can be connected to a home's Wi-Fi network and allow homeowners to remotely control their heating and cooling systems. By setting schedules, adjusting temperatures, and tracking usage patterns, smart thermostats ensure optimal performance and help reduce energy consumption.

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Furthermore, smart thermostats can seamlessly integrate with other energy-efficient alternatives, such as ductless mini-split systems and heat pumps. A ductless mini-split system consists of an indoor air handler and an outdoor unit that provides both heating and cooling services. These systems are known for their energy efficiency and ability to maintain comfort levels in rooms without ductwork or windows. By connecting a smart thermostat to these systems, homeowners can further benefit from increased control and efficiency.

In addition to their environmental benefits, such devices can also help homeowners save on their energy bills. Smart thermostats can be set to use electricity or propane when necessary, adjusting the system's performance based on the energy source's availability and pricing.

In conclusion, there are various air conditioning alternatives and additional features available for homes with gas boilers. By considering energy-efficient solutions like window units, portable systems, heat pumps, and smart thermostats, homeowners can achieve both comfortable temperatures and reduced energy consumption.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the common types of AC units for homes?

There are several types of air conditioning units available for homes, including window units, portable air conditioners, split systems, and central air conditioning systems. Each unit comes with its own benefits, catering to different needs and budgets.

Is air conditioning cheaper to run than gas central heating?

Air conditioning can be more energy-efficient in certain circumstances, but it is generally not recommended to rely solely on air conditioning for heating. It often depends on the efficiency of the appliances, the region's energy prices and climate. It's important to compare the operating costs of gas central heating and air conditioning specific to your location and usage patterns before making a decision.

Can you have central air and gas heat?

Yes, it is possible to have a combination of central air conditioning and gas heating in your home. Many modern HVAC systems are designed with both heating and cooling capabilities, allowing homeowners to use gas heat for colder months and air conditioning during warmer months.

Is air conditioning cheaper than a boiler?

The cost of operating an air conditioner compared to a boiler can vary depending on factors such as energy prices, system efficiency, and climate. Generally, air conditioning might be more cost-effective for cooling purposes, while a boiler might be better suited for heating.

Which air conditioning types are popular in the UK?

The most popular air conditioning types in the UK include single and multi-split systems, as well as portable and window units. Split systems are known for their versatility, while portable and window units are popular for their convenience and lower installation costs.

How much does an air conditioner cost to run per hour UK?

The hourly operating cost of an air conditioner depends on factors such as the system's size, energy efficiency and local electricity costs. On average, it can range from £0.07 to £0.20 per hour for small to medium-sized rooms. However, it is important to consider your specific unit and energy prices when calculating the cost.

Where can I find information on AC systems for buildings?

To find information on air conditioning systems for buildings, you can consult reputable websites, such as those of HVAC suppliers and manufacturers, as well as government resources and industry publications. Additionally, it may be helpful to consult a qualified HVAC professional for your specific needs and queries.

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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.