Published Sep 5 18

•    Using air conditioning for eight hours a day could add almost £95 more to bills
•    Households who use their air conditioning unit for 18 hours a day could pay an extra £214
•    43% of UK households are considering taking further longer-term measures to keep cool in the future

3 September, 2018 – Families could be paying up to £300 extra on their energy bills this summer, as the nation’s season-long heatwave and record temperatures have led to many households turning on their air conditioning units or fans in an effort to cope. New research by Compare the Market found that an average air conditioning unit could consume around 21,600 watts if used around the clock, significantly increasing energy consumption and hitting bills.

The news comes as the UK experienced its hottest temperatures since 1976, with several places in the UK having had 54 consecutive dry days. The heat has driven many households to turn on their air conditioning units throughout the day, and possibly into the night, as well as fans with 40% of households stating that they have recently purchased a new cooling unit, such as air conditioning, fans and even paddling pools.

Further research from Compare the Market revealed that 4 in 10 would consider installing air con units in anticipation of further blistering hot summers. Younger generations (18 – 34) seem to be the most inclined to pay more in order to remain cool, as half of this demographic (50%) claim that they would happily pay the additional costs. Young adults (18-34) were the biggest air-con advocates too, as one fifth (19%) say they have used an air conditioning unit to keep cool this summer.

An analysis of the electricity consumption of a standard air conditioning unit found that people using a unit for eight hours a day could spend £1.03 on average, equating to almost £95 over the months of May, June and July. However, this price comes in above consumer expectations, as 42% of people think costs would be less than £75. More worryingly, one third (33%) of respondents admit to not having any idea how much their air conditioning usage may cost them to run.

For families who use air conditioning for 18 hours, the cost would be £2.32 per day and just under £214 for the same time period.

However, with the recent sweltering conditions, households who have needed to use air-conditioning on a 24 hour basis can expect to pay almost £300 in electricity bills this summer. Yet concerns around the cost of energy prevail, as over one third of respondents (38%) say they are concerned about the potential increases to their energy bills throughout this summer’s heatwave.

Nevertheless, the cost of the heatwave goes beyond finances, as some respondents claim that elderly relatives and pets had been worst affected by the heat. Over one in ten (13%) say that their older family members had struggled with the conditions, likely made worse by the fact that this demographic is the least likely to use cooling units, with only 25% purchasing fans or air conditioning systems this summer.

Peter Earl

Peter Earl

Head of Energy

Compare the Market

“As a nation unaccustomed to excessive heat, many families have turned to household air conditioning systems to stay cool. However, these systems are both expensive to run and often require a hefty upfront payment. The monthly cost of air conditioning can come as a real shock to families who are only used to paying costly energy bills throughout the winter months to stay warm.

“As this summer has seen record temperatures over a prolonged period of time, and with further hot weather predicted over the coming weeks, traditional cooling methods do not always suffice. Consumers who have no option, other than turning to air conditioning, should look to review their energy provider and ensure they are not already paying over the odds for electricity, this could be especially beneficial to those households who have remained with the same provider for some time.”

Notes to editors:
These figures are based on the electricity consumption of the average air conditioning unit found on Currys PC World and the average cost of electricity in pence/kWh according to the Energy Saving Trust.
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