Guide written by:
Pauline, Self-taught handyman, Leeds
When the heat hits, you might be tempted to invest in an air conditioner to bring down the temperature by a few degrees. But will it do the trick? Make sure you're aware of the pros and cons of air conditioning units before taking the leap! Read on to find the best way to keep your home cool.
- Room volume
Advantages of air conditioners
Before you dive into choosing an air conditioner to suit your budget and room size, let's run through the advantages of these devices.
Enhanced living comfort
Air conditioners allow you to reduce the temperature of your living space by a few degrees. They can also be used to adjust the level of humidity of the room in the same way as a dehumidifier making your air even more comfortable. All in all, these devices are a great option for very hot conditions.
Good value for money
Portable air conditioners can vary widely in price, although they are generally priced between about £150 and £1200 (for domestic models; commercial units can be over £4000). This means there's a model out there for pretty much any budget! A variety of factors can influence price:
- noise level;
- energy consumption;
- inclusion of an air quality filter;
- refrigerant power (in BTU or British Thermal Units);
- range of combined functions (air conditioning, ventilation, heating);
- coefficient of performance (COP);
- type of air conditioning unit (monoblock or split);
- brand and warranty;
- remote control.
Portable air conditioners will last for a number of years and allow you rest easy at night – even during heatwaves. They'll also prevent you from getting dehydrated on the hottest days of the year. This is particularly important for young children, elderly people and other people who are particularly sensitive to the heat. Split units are very conspicuous and aren't really necessary unless your area is subject to high temperatures for most of the year. For optimum user comfort, go for a model with a reverse cycle.
Cool air for minimal effort
Portable air conditioners are the ideal way to deal with excessive heat in the main rooms of your home. Installing full-scale air conditioning is more complicated, and requires drilling, laying a dedicated pipe network and installing an outdoor unit. Landlords and housing associations are often unwilling to go to the expense and upheaval, in which case a portable appliance is your only option.
Disadvantages of air conditioners
There are also a few minor drawbacks to air conditioning, which should be taken on board before you make any decisions.
Much noisier than a basic fans, air conditioners feature a compressor which can be pretty noisy.
Most portable air conditioners are too loud for use overnight. One option is, of course, to run the unit for a while before you go to bed. Alternatively, you can put in earplugs to block out the noise of the rushing air (65 dB on average).
It's worth noting that you can get windows with a special hole for passing through your air conditioner hose. These accessories are designed to seal the open space in the window in order to increase the cooling efficiency of the unit.
Air conditioning produces heat
Air conditioning units produce very hot air which must be released through an open window via a hose.
Portable models are not well suited to large rooms (120m³ max. or more for commercial models). When making your purchase, check the unit's cooling capacity per volume. With a mid-range model you'll be able to comfortably cool a room of up to 30m² (or about 75m³), provided doors to other rooms are kept closed.
High energy consumption
It takes a lot of energy to cool the air enough to bring down the temperature down from, say, 32 to 26°C.
Generally speaking, we tend to select the lowest possible temperature on air conditioners in order to cool the air faster – but this comes at a cost. Just like heaters fitted with thermostats, which regulate the heating action depending on the target temperature you set, air conditioning units evaluate the ambient temperature to cool the air and keep it at a set temperature.
In order to reduce your electricity bill, consider getting an energy efficient air conditioner. Check for a rainbow label on the product and, if you can, go for a class A appliance.
Buying an air conditioner is a surefire way to improve your home comfort in hot weather. Investing in a portable system is a more affordable and convenient way to help you through the hot spells for years to come. So fire up the air conditioner this summer – and remember not to sit too close to avoid catching a cold!
To find out more about home improvements, follow our editors' advice and check out their other guides:
Guide written by:
Pauline, Self-taught handyman, Leeds, 89 guides
With a handyman-father, I grew up with the soft sound of the sander and hammer on weekends. I am both manual and cerebral (yes, it is possible.), I learned the basics of DIY and the customization of furniture because I was passionate. The salvage mentality is a true way of life that allowed me to know how to use all the tools and products needed to give something a second life, from sander to varnish. I have two favorite activities: the transformation of old furniture and decoration tips. I am always ready to lend a helping hand to revamp a table or to restore a mirror that was intended for the trash that will become a friend’s centerpiece. I’m convinced that it’s possible to reinvent an interior by small, regular modifications, I constantly research low-cost, test ideas.