Portable air conditioning units can add £28 per week to your energy bills

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This week the UK experienced a mini heatwave. On Wednesday, the hottest temperature of the year was recorded at Heathrow Airport, when the mercury hit 32.6°C.

New survey data from Uswitch shows that more than two million households are considering buying a portable air con unit to help them cope with the heat, likely due, in part, to the fact that many Brits are working from home during the heatwave.

According to Uswitch, interest in portable air conditioning units is up 360 per cent compared with the start of lockdown. In addition, search traffic for the term is up 133 per cent when compared with the end of May last year, when temperatures hit 28.2°C (82.76°F).

However, although these units can make your working and living environment more comfortable, they could also cause your energy bills to skyrocket. That's because these domestic units use 2.7kW of power on average, which is similar to the amount used by a washing machine or a tumble dryer.

Research shows that homes with portable air conditioning units tend to run them for around four hours during the day and five hours during the night. As they cost around 44p per hour of usage, this means that they could add around £28 a week to your energy bills. For this reason, if you’re running a portable unit to keep cool in the heat, we recommend doing an energy comparison to see whether you could find a cheaper energy deal by switching to a better energy supplier and save money on your bills.

Cheaper alternatives

In theory, your energy bills should be much lower in the summer months when there’s no need for you to have the central heating on. But, as we’ve seen already, changing your habits can cause your bills to increase. 

For example, filling a paddling pool for the garden could cost you up to £16 if you’re on a water meter, and each additional 10-minute shower you take to cool off in the heat could cost you around 32p. If everyone in your household takes an extra shower per day, the cost of this can quickly add up.

Thankfully, there are quite a few energy-conscious alternatives to using air conditioning units if you’d like to save on your energy bills. For example, if you use a desktop fan instead, then you’ll only use 120W of energy, which is almost 20 times less. If this doesn’t quite cool the air enough for you, try placing a bowl of ice in front of the fan. This way, the fan will continually blow cool air and it’ll only cost you around 2p per hour to run it.

Similarly, small changes in your home can make a big difference to the temperature. Although it’s tempting to open the window and let the sunshine in, the sun will heat everything it touches and your home may quickly turn into a greenhouse. So, unless there’s a strong breeze you can make the most of, keep the curtains closed to keep the heat out. 

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Tom Brook

Tom is a freelance copywriter and content marketer with over seven years' experience. Originally from an agency background, he is proud to have worked on campaigns for a number of energy providers, comparison sites and consumer brands.