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Heatwave – How much electricity does a portable air conditioning unit use?

Heatwave! Temperatures are set to soar yet again, with forecasters predicting record highs – another summer in which keeping cool is a problem!

There has certainly been a rush for fans in the shops this year, with portable air conditioner units becoming the ‘must-have’ item this summer to cool an office or your home. So how do they work? And more importantly how much do they cost to run?


An air conditioner works in the same way as your fridge, cooling your room by passing warm air over a cold evaporator coil, and then blowing cooled air into your room.  This process also generates hot air that needs to be vented out of the building by an exhaust hose, usually placed through a window. Another often-forgotten element of this cooling process is that it generates water and dries the air, that’s why portable air conditioning units have water tanks that need to be emptied.

How do I keep my room cool and my air conditioning unit running efficiently?

Carrying on the fridge theme… if you think of your room as a fridge, the last thing you’d do is leave the fridge door open, the same applies to the room you’re trying to cool. Keep your space well sealed by closing doors and windows, this will ensure you get the best out of the air con unit. Closing blinds and curtains will reduce the heat from sunshine through windows and doors. Good levels of insulation will help keep rooms cooler in summer, as well as warmer in winter.  Hot summers may be a rare experience for the UK, but travel to Europe – France, Spain, or Italy and you’ll find plenty of external shutters preventing the sun’s heat from entering the room.

What do you look for when buying an air conditioner?

A thermostat is pretty crucial!  You don’t want to waste energy trying to get your room too cold, and a timer is a good bet also.  Like other electrical appliances, air conditioners have energy efficiency labels, graded from A to G for energy efficiency; go for the best you can afford and save long-term. Washable pre-filters and odour-eating carbon filters are useful features.

Electricity Cost Calculator

How much do they cost to run? Just check the power consumption figures, then use Sust-it’s energy cost calculator to see what that will cost to run per hour.  Click here to see the potential air conditioner running costs.


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