1. HeatingForce
  2. Cooling

Guide to Air Conditioners: Types, Costs, and How They Work

Air conditioners are machines that cool down your home during the hot summer months. Air conditioners use a chemical called refrigerant to transfer heat from interior spaces to outdoor spaces through a process of evaporation and compression. Longer and hotter heat waves brought on by climate change are making air conditioning an increasingly reasonable choice in the UK.

air conditioners
Air conditioners cool indoor spaces by transferring heat outdoors

All modern air conditioners have three core components: an evaporator, a compressor, and a condenser. Both the air conditioner evaporator and its condenser are long coils of copper tubing that carry a chemical refrigerant. The evaporator sits in an interior unit housed inside your home and absorbs heat from interior air, causing the refrigerant to evaporate. The condenser sits outside in an external unit and deposits that excess heat into the outside air. A compressor is a machine that sits between the two and further condenses the refrigerant to bring it below the target interior temperature before passing it from the condenser to the evaporator.

A refrigerant is a chemical compound that your air conditioner uses to transfer heat from indoor spaces to outdoor spaces. The refrigerants that an air conditioner uses are R22 (aka Freon) and R410A (aka Puron). Freon is widely recognized as damaging to the environment and Puron is a less damaging alternative.

An air conditioner uses electricity as its fuel. Electricity is used to power the fan, condenser, and other core components in the air conditioner. Some portable air conditioners have battery power but most rely on a connection to the electricity mains.

The five most common types of air conditioners are central air conditioners, window air conditioners, portable air conditioners, ductless air conditioners, and floor-mounted air conditioners. A central air conditioner uses your home’s ducts to transport hot air between its internal and external units. A ductless system uses just the copper refrigerant line to transport this heat. Floor-mounted air conditioning units operate just like ductless systems except that the interior unit is mounted to the floor instead of the wall.

Air conditioning systems are uncommon in the UK because of our generally mild summer temperatures. However, the growing intensity and duration of summer heat waves mean that investing in an air conditioning system makes increasing sense. Air conditioning is an especially wise investment for the elderly or individuals at increased risk for heat stroke.

The alternatives to air conditioning are buying a fan, better-cooling home design, and evaporative cooling. Traditional air conditioning is the most effective way to cool an interior space but they are expensive to install and operate and may be overpowered for a typical property in the UK.

Air conditioning can be beneficial to your health in a number of ways. First, air conditioning systems filter your home’s air and improve air circulation so can improve the quality of the air you breathe. Second, cooler interior temperatures improve your sleep quality. Third, air conditing reduces the growth of mould. The main health downside of air conditioning is that it dries out the air in your home which can contribute towards dry and itchy skin and dehydration if you don’t drink enough water.

What is an air conditioner and how does it work?

An air conditioner is a machine that cools interior air temperatures by collecting indoor air heat and releasing it outdoors. Most modern air conditioners employ a mechanism called “vapour-compression refrigeration” to remove heat from indoor spaces. The vapour-compression refrigeration cycle in an air conditioner works by circulating a refrigerant, which is a chemical compound that absorbs heat from the indoor air and carries it to the outdoor unit where it is released.

Who invented air conditioning?

American engineer Willis H. Carrier (1876-1905) invented air conditioning in 1901. Carrier installed the first air conditioning unit in a production plant of the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing & Publishing Company in Brooklyn, New York in order to maintain consistent paper dimensions to make printing easier. Carrier later founded The Carrier Air Conditioning Company of America, which continues to operate and is valued at $18.6 billion.

Air conditioners as we know them today first entered the market in the 1930s. In 1931, H. H. Schultz and J.Q. Sherman developed an individual room air conditioner that sat in a window ledge. Chrysler Motors introduced the first air conditioner units for use in cars in 1935.

What are the main parts of an air conditioner?

The three main parts of an air conditioner are as follows.

  • Evaporator coil: Absorbs heat from inside the home or vehicle via refrigerant, which evaporates and flows as a gas to the compressor.
  • Compressor: Compresses gas inside the evaporator coil to high pressure, then pushes it out to the condenser coil.
  • Condenser coil: Receives the condensed, high-pressure refrigerant carrying all of the heat energy, which it then disperses outside.

Below is a more thorough explanation of these three vital air conditioner components.

The evaporator coil

The evaporator coil of an air conditioner absorbs heat from the indoor air, thus cooling and drying the air before it flows back to the indoor space. The evaporator coil contains a liquid refrigerant that evaporates as it absorbs heat from the warm indoor air passing over the coil. The air conditioner’s blower pushes the cooled gas back into the room, while the warmed refrigerant gas flows to the compressor.

The compressor

The air conditioner’s compressor takes low-pressure gas from the evaporator and compresses it into high-pressure gas. High pressure raises the refrigerant’s temperature because of the adiabatic compression process, in which the refrigerant’s molecules are forced closer together, thus increasing their kinetic energy and temperature. The hot, high-pressure refrigerant gas then flows to the condenser.

The condenser coil

An air conditioner’s condenser coil allows heat to dissipate from the refrigerant. The refrigerant enters the condenser coil as a high-temperature, high-pressure gas. As the refrigerant flows through the condenser coil, it releases heat to the outdoor air and begins to condense into a high-pressure liquid. The heat transfer process cools the refrigerant, and the cooled liquid then flows to the expansion valve. The valve allows the liquid to lose pressure and become colder, at which point the chilled refrigerant enters the evaporator coil again.

Air conditioner diagram
Air conditioners work by expelling indoor heat to the outdoors

What refrigerant do air conditioners use?

Air conditioners typically use the following two refrigerants.

  • R22: R22 (commercially patented as “Freon” by DuPont) was the most common air conditioner refrigerant until recent years. Freon has several properties that make it effective as a refrigerant, including a low boiling point, low surface tension, and low viscosity. Low surface tension and low viscosity make it easy to move Freon throughout an air conditioning system while a low boiling point makes Freon easy to evaporate. However, Freon is damaging to the ozone layer if released into the atmosphere, and this environmental hazard has prompted the industry regulators to initiate a phaseout of the refrigerant.
  • R410A: R410A (trademarked under the brand name “Puron” by Honeywell) is a refrigerant blend comprising difluoromethane and pentafluoroethane. Puron has replaced Freon in most air conditioners manufactured in the UK, Europe, the United States, and Japan for two reasons. Firstly, Puron is less damaging to the environment than Freon. Puron does not contain chlorine and thus does not erode the ozone layer when released into the atmosphere. Secondly, Puron is safer than Freon, as it’s not toxic to humans and pets.

What fuel does an air conditioner use?

An air conditioner uses electricity as its fuel. Electricity powers an air conditioner’s fan, blower, compressor, and controls. Some portable air conditioners have battery power but most rely on a connection to the electricity mains.

Does an air conditioner use petrol?

It depends: air conditioners used to cool buildings do not use petrol, whilst car air conditioners do. Residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial air conditioners are either wired directly to the mains or are plugged into outlets. On the other hand, car air conditioners rely on the vehicle’s engine belt to power the compressor and thus do consume petrol when in operation.

What are the different types of air conditioners?

The five different types of air conditioners are as follows.

  • Central air conditioners: Central air conditioners are connected to your home’s ductwork to link the internal (evaporating) and external (condensing) units. Central air conditioners are high-capacity cooling systems that are able to keep a large home cold. However, central air conditioners are expensive to install and operate.
  • Window air conditioners: Window air conditioners are single-unit air conditioning systems that sit in a window frame, with the evaporator coils facing indoors and condensing coils facing outdoors. Window air conditioners have a lower capacity than central air conditioners and work well in apartments that may not have enough outdoor space to support a separate external unit.
  • Portable air conditioners: Portable air conditioners are the most economical air conditioning option and require no installation beyond fitting the exhaust hose through the window. Portable air conditioners cool a single room, but you’re able to move them from one location to another.
  • Ductless air conditioners: Ductless air conditioners are an alternative to central aircon units that are generally high capacity and do not require any modifications to your ductwork. Ductless air conditioners connect an internal and external unit via a refrigerant line.
  • Floor-mounted air conditioners: Floor-mounted air conditioners comprise a free-standing interior unit or a unit recessed into a fireplace or other similar space. Floor-mounted air conditioners work well in properties with limited wall space.

Below is a more thorough explanation of the five aforementioned air conditioner types.

Central air conditioners

Central air conditioners are air conditioners that circulate air through supply and return ducts to cool the interior temperature of your home. Central air conditioners come in the following two subtypes.

  • Split-system: Split-system air conditioners comprise an internal unit that absorbs heat from indoor air and an external unit that deposits that heat into the external environment. The indoor unit holds an evaporator coil that absorbs heat from the indoor air and a blower fan that circulates the now-cooled air around your home. The refrigerant travels between the internal and external units as it goes through the vapour-compression refrigeration cycle.
  • Packaged: Packaged air conditioners operate out of a single unit. This type of central air conditioner contains the evaporator, compressor, and fan all in one place, and dispels heat outside your home via a vent.

What sets central air conditioners apart from their floor-mounted and ductless counterparts is that they distribute air throughout a home via ductwork. Meanwhile, floor-mounted and ductless air conditioners expel chilled air directly from the internal, evaporating unit, whilst circulating the refrigerant to the external unit via the refrigerant line. The difference between central air conditioners and window or portable air conditioners is that the latter contains all components in a single unit that produces both cold and hot air.

A typical central air conditioner has a capacity of between 20,000 – 50,000 BTUs, which is enough to effectively cool a large (92 – 400 square metre) property. The powerful capacity of this air conditioner type reflects in the high price point. A central air conditioning unit costs between £2,500 and £5,000 without installation. The installation process adds even more to the total costs, since fitting a new central air conditioner typically requires the following two modifications inside your home. Firstly, a new central aircon may require changes to your ductwork to accommodate the movement of air between the external and internal units. Secondly, fitting a new central air conditioner entails fitting copper refrigerant piping between the internal and external units. The two procedures above drive up the cost of central air-con installation. However, these fitting costs are generally lower if your previous air conditioning system already has the ductwork and refrigerant piping set up and in good working order. Altogether, a central air-con may cost as much as £15,000 including installation.

The table below offers an approximated guide to the cost of operating a central air conditioning unit.

Central Air Conditioning
Purchase cost £2,000-£5,000
Installation cost £5,000-£10,000
Power consumption 3.0kwh
Running cost per hour £1.70
Running cost per month* £300-£400

*The monthly running cost is based on 6 hours of use per day.

The high purchase, installation, and operating costs of a central air conditioner mean this air-con type is most appropriate for large properties that have consistent cooling needs. In contrast, dwellers of smaller homes do not require powerful, expensive central air conditioners to keep their indoor temperatures at a comfortably cool level. Window, ductless, and portable air-cons are suitable alternatives if you’ve got less than 100 square metres of space.

However, the best central air-con alternative for larger homes is a ductless air conditioning system. Ductless air conditioners have a similar capacity to central air conditioning systems but do not require any modifications to your home’s ducts and generally cost less.

Window air conditioners

A window air conditioner is a single-unit air-con that fits in a window. The single-unit air-con contains a fan, compressor, evaporator coil, and condenser coil, with a division between the outdoor and indoor chambers. The indoor part of a window air conditioner houses the cold evaporator coil and the blower, which blows chilled air into the living space. Meanwhile, the outside unit has a fan that forces air over the hot condenser coil and to the outdoors. The refrigerant circulates between the indoor and outdoor portions of the window air conditioner, gaining and losing pressure and moving heat out of the living space during each cycle.

Window air conditioners are designed to fit single- and double-hung windows, although some models may fit other window types (manufacturers typically state the window compatibility). Most such units come with panels that seal the open space on either side of the air-con once you place it in the window opening.

Most window air conditioners have a cooling capacity range of 5,000 – 18,000 BTUs, which is substantially lower than that of an average central air-con. A window air conditioner with a capacity of 5,000 BTUs is able to cool a 9 – 14 square metre room, while a 12,000-BTU model is adequate for a 35-45 square metre space (the size of a typical one-bedroom apartment). A larger window air conditioner with 18,000 BTUs of capacity is able to cool a 65 -90 square metre area, such as a large living room or office space.

The table below offers an approximate guide to the cost of installing and running a window air conditioning unit.

Window Air Conditioning
Purchase cost £200 – £600
Installation cost £200 – £500
Power consumption 0.9 – 1.4 kWh
Running cost per hour £0.30 – £0.50
Running cost per month £54 – £126

*The monthly running cost is based on 6 hours of use per day.

The relatively low cost, capacity, and small size of window air conditioning units make them a suitable cooling option for small living spaces that have an appropriate external window. Portable air conditioners are the best alternative to window air-cons, as they have a similar capacity and price tag, whilst their mobility allows owners to move them between rooms. However, residents of larger homes with more consistent cooling needs should consider a more powerful option, such as a ductless or central air conditioning system.

Portable air conditioners

Portable air conditioners are small units that are easy to relocate within a home. Portable air-cons have all their components within the same housing, where two separate intakes generate airflow over the evaporator and condenser coils. The chilled air that flows through the evaporator coil gets vented back into the living space, whilst the hot air flowing over the condenser exits the unit (and the room) via a hose and out the window. The exhaust hose usually comes with a panel that helps seal off the window opening, and its installation is relatively simple.

Most portable air conditioners fall in the 5,000 – 14,000 BTUs range. A 5,000 BTU portable air conditioner has enough capacity to cool a room of 9 – 14 square metres. The larger, 10,000+ BTU units are able to cool a space of a 40-50 square metre area.

The below table outlines the costs associated with running a portable air conditioner.

Purchase cost £300 – £800
Installation cost N/A
Power consumption 1.2 kWh
Running cost per hour £0.44
Running cost per month* £70 – £80

*The monthly running cost is based on 6 hours of use per day.

Portable ACs are an effective cooling mechanism in small properties, where limited cooling needs make it hard to justify expensive, high-capacity systems. However, portable air-cons also have an edge over low-capacity solutions, as their occupants are able to move the unit with them between various rooms of their home.

There are two suitable alternatives to a portable air conditioner are window air conditioners and evaporative coolers. Window air conditioners generally have a higher capacity than their portable counterparts, but require a more complicated installation, cost more, and are not mobile. An evaporative cooler is not an air conditioner, but it generates a cool breeze by blowing air over a water surface.

Ductless air conditioners

Ductless air conditioners (also known as “mini-split air conditioners”) comprise evaporator (internal) and condenser (external) units to cool your home and do not require ductwork. Instead, ductless air conditioners pass refrigerant between the evaporator and condenser via a copper refrigerant tube. This configuration makes ductless air conditioners less expensive to fit, as a refrigerant pipe is less costly to install than ductwork.

A ductless air-con’s evaporator cools the air in the room where it’s installed. You need to install an evaporator unit in each room you wish to cool, with a typical limit of four evaporators for each condenser. The condenser is mounted outside the home, where its fan blows air over the condenser coil and thus dispels the indoor heat from the refrigerant.

Cooling capacities for ductless air conditioners range from 9,000 to 24,000 BTUs. A ductless air conditioner with a capacity of 9,000 BTUs is enough to cool a space of 35 square metres, whilst a 24,000 BTU model is adequate for cooling 140 square metres of living space.

Ductless air conditioners cost less to purchase than central ACs but are pricier than window or portable units.

Ductless Air Conditioning
Purchase cost £1,500 – £3,500
Installation cost £1,500 – £9,000
Power consumption 1.25 kWh
Running cost per hour £0.44
Running cost per month* £80

*The monthly running cost is based on 6 hours of use per day for a single evaporator unit.

Ductless air conditioners are appropriate for medium and large properties that do not have easily modifiable ducts. Ductless air conditioners are sufficiently high capacity to meet the cooling needs of family homes or multiple-occupant office spaces. The one major drawback to this air-con type is that each conditioned space requires its own evaporator, which drives up the upfront costs.

The best alternatives to a ductless air conditioner are central and floor-mounted air conditioners since these types are able to serve properties of a similar floor area. In fact, a floor-mounted air conditioner is a ductless AC, except it’s not mounted on the wall like a traditional ductless unit.

Floor-mounted air conditioners

Floor-mounted air conditioners are a type of ductless air-con unit that gets installed on the floor or in a recessed space, like an unused fireplace. Floor-mounted air-cons require an evaporator unit (internal) in any space that requires cooling, and a condenser (external) to function. Ductwork changes are not required to accommodate floor-mounted AC units, as they only circulate refrigerant between the condenser and evaporator, much like their wall-hung ductless variants.

Residential floor-mounted air conditioners range between 10,000 and 20,000 BTUs in capacity. A 10,000 BTU floor-standing air conditioner is suitable for cooling roughly 50 square metres of space, while a 20,000 BTU unit is powerful enough to condition the climate of a large, open area up to 100 square metres, such as an open-concept space with a kitchen, living, and dining rooms. Meanwhile, commercial and industrial floor-mounted air conditioners often have capacities in excess of 200,000 BTUs.

The below table outlines the approximate costs of purchasing and running a floor-mounted air conditioning unit.

Floor-Mounted Air Conditioning
Purchase cost £1,200 – £3,500
Installation cost £600 – £1,500
Power consumption 1.25 – 2.25 kWh
Running cost per hour £0.44 – £ 0.80
Running cost per month* £80 – £145

*The monthly running cost is based on 6 hours of use per day

Floor-mounted air conditioners are most appropriate for properties with insufficient interior wall space for a wall-hung evaporator unit. Floor-mounted air conditioners are generally more affordable than wall-mounted ductless and central air conditioners. However, they also have lower capacities and are generally less effective at cooling a space, since cold air sinks.

Wall-hung ductless ACs are the best alternatives to floor-mounted air-cons. A wall-hung ductless air conditioner is almost identical to a floor-mounted air conditioner in terms of capacity and design. The only difference between the two AC types is the location of the evaporator: traditional ductless ACs are wall-hung, whilst floor-mounted ACs sit on the floor. Ductless air conditioners, therefore, make suitable alternatives to floor-mounted units if you have the available wall space.

Air conditioner types
There are five main types of air conditioners: Portable, window, ductless, floor-mounted, and central air conditioners.

What type of air conditioner do I need?

The type of air conditioner you need depends on the following three factors.

  • Your property size: Larger properties need air conditioners with a higher capacity than smaller properties. Detached homes with multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, and living spaces need a central air conditioning system, whereas ductless or window air-con units are more suitable for flats or smaller terraced homes. Portable air conditioners are a viable option if you only need to cool down a single room at any given time.
  • Your budget: Budget is a major factor in the type of air conditioner you need. Comprehensive systems like central or ductless air conditioners are usually quite expensive, as they require separate evaporator and condenser units, and the installation process is labour-intensive. On the other hand, window and portable air conditioners are comparatively economical, as they comprise a single unit and do not require professional installation.
  • Available space: Central and ductless air-con systems require plenty of space, both inside and outside the home. In contrast, window and portable ACs have a relatively small footprint.

What is a BTU on an air conditioner?

A BTU on an air conditioner is a measure of that air conditioner’s output capacity, which indirectly indicates how much space an AC is able to cool. Air conditioners with a higher BTU rating are able to cool a larger volume of air faster than their low-capacity counterparts.

BTU stands for “British Thermal Unit,” and represents the amount of heat needed to change the temperature of a pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. BTU is a standard measurement of heat used to quantify the capacity of space conditioning systems.

Most air conditioners have capacities in the range of several thousand BTUs. An air conditioner with 5,000 BTUs could effectively heat a room of 10 metres as a rule of thumb. The exact number of BTUs you need for a given space depends on the floor area of the space, how hot the area gets, the room’s usage and optimal ambient temperature, and the property’s insulation quality.

How much does an air conditioner cost?

How much an air conditioner costs depends on the air conditioner type, capacity, and brand. A central air conditioning system costs between £1,380 – £14,160 to install, depending on the size of your property. More economical alternatives, like window air conditioners or portable air conditioners, cost £545 – £1,160 and £150 – £350, respectively.

The following three factors determine how much an air conditioner unit costs.

  • Brand: Premium brands with household name recognition generally charge more for their air conditioners than lesser-known brands. Expect brands like Delonghi and Black and Decker to charge a premium for their air conditioners.
  • Air conditioner type: Air conditioner costs vary depending on the type of aircon. Below are the different aircon price ranges (without installation) based on type.
    • Central air conditioner: £2,500 – £5,500
    • Ductless air conditioner: £1,500 – £3,500
    • Floor-mounted air conditioner: £1,200 – £3,500
    • Window air conditioner: £200 – £600
    • Portable air conditioner: £300 – £800
  • Capacity: High-capacity air conditioners are generally more expensive than their lower-capacity counterparts. The capacity you need to cool your space effectively and efficiently depends on factors such as property size, insulation quality, and window orientation.

Do I need an air conditioner in the UK?

Whether or not you need an air conditioner in the UK depends on the two factors below.

  • Likelihood of experiencing extreme heat
  • Vulnerability to heat stroke

The more likely you are to experience extreme heat, and the more vulnerable you are to its effects, the more you benefit from having an air conditioner. Below is an in-depth analysis of the two aforementioned factors.

What is my likelihood of experiencing extreme heat?

Extreme heat events in the UK have been increasing in frequency and intensity, thereby increasing the likelihood of exposure to high temperatures. Climate change has worsened the nation’s annual summer heat waves, making them longer and hotter than ever before. A recent special report on climate extremes in the UK concluded that typical warm spells have more than doubled in length since the mid-1900s and that the 10 hottest years since 1884 have all occurred in the last 22 years. For example, in August 2020, twenty weather stations across England recorded a maximum temperature of more than 32C for more than 6 consecutive days (for the first time since 1976). The heat waves of July 2022 likewise broke several temperature records. The 19 of July 2022 was the first time in recorded history when British temperatures exceeded 40C, which resulted in 638 excess deaths.

There are two factors that exacerbate the effects of prolonged UK heat waves. Firstly, the regional climate is able to either worsen or lessen the effects of a heat wave. For example, you’re more likely to experience intense heat in Jersey than in Inverness. Likewise, large metropolises such as London, Manchester, and Birmingham experience higher temperatures than smaller municipalities due to the heat island effect. Secondly, a building’s ability to accumulate and trap heat correlates to the likelihood of indoor temperatures rising to levels hazardous to human health. Upper-floor flats of brick and concrete buildings are the most dangerous during heat events. Upper floors accumulate more heat, as hot air rises and there’s less shade at a higher elevation above the street. At the same time, brick and concrete buildings have high thermal mass, which leads to an increased thermal lag. Properties with a high thermal lag take longer to dispel heat because their primary construction materials take longer to release it. Consequently, the effects of heat waves are far more intense and harmful for those living on the upper floors of brick or concrete buildings in the UK’s largest urban centres.

What is my vulnerability to extreme heat?

The four individual risk factors below make people more vulnerable to extreme heat.

  • Age: Individuals over the age of 60, as well as infants and toddlers, are more likely to succumb to heat stroke in hot ambient temperatures. The very young and the elderly are at a higher risk of getting heat stroke because their bodies’ ability to thermoregulate is diminished compared to that of young adults.
  • Health: People with chronic illnesses (such as heart disease, diabetes, or respiratory illness) have a higher chance of getting a heat stroke when exposed to extreme heat. That’s because most chronic illnesses impair the body’s natural temperature-regulating mechanisms.
  • Weight: Obese and overweight individuals are particularly susceptible to the effects of intense heat waves, as higher percentages of body fat reduce the ability to dispel heat.
  • Use of medications: Using medications for colds, allergies, blood pressure, diarrhoea, and mental illnesses reduces one’s ability to tolerate heat and leads to a higher risk of heat stroke.

People with the four risk factors above should consider equipping their living quarters with an air conditioner to reduce their exposure to heat.

What are the health benefits of air conditioners?

There are four main health benefits of air conditioners. Firstly, air conditioners reduce the risk of dehydration and heat stroke. Air conditioning mitigates the health risks associated with exposure to extreme heat. You’re far less likely to face dehydration and heat stroke in the summer if you have air conditioning. Secondly, air conditioners improve air quality. Modern air conditioners contain filters that remove air particulates, thus enhancing indoor air quality. Better air quality improves your breathing and reduces the risk of asthma attacks. Thirdly, air conditioners help improve sleep. A cool indoor climate improves your sleep quality significantly by lowering your core body temperature, slowing metabolism, and increasing melatonin production.  A quality night’s rest boosts the immune system and increases alertness. Fourthly, air conditioners help reduce mould growth. Air conditioners dehumidify the air indoors, thus making the home environment less hospitable for moisture-loving mould. Mould growth poses a significant health risk, as spores become airborne and interfere with the respiratory system.

What are the health risks associated with an air conditioner?

There are three health risks associated with an air conditioner. Firstly, air conditioners may cause dry and itchy skin. Air conditioners dry out the air in your home, which can in turn dry out your skin. Consider reducing your air conditioning if you have sensitive skin that drys out often. Secondly, air conditioners may lead to dehydration. Air conditioning dries out the air and this can increase the amount of water your body needs to function properly. However, heat exposure is a more significant dehydration cause than air conditioning. Ultimately, lower indoor air temperatures associated with air conditioning use actually help your body retain fluids during heat waves (as long as you consume enough water). Thirdly, air conditioners may cause dry eyes. The dry air produced by air conditioners might make your eyes dry and itchy. Eye drops offer a simple way of alleviating eye dryness.

Can an air conditioner give you a cold?

Yes, an air conditioner can give you a cold if you don’t maintain it properly. An air-con filter that has not been cleaned in a long time builds up pathogens and dust, which the air conditioner then circulates around your home. Some of these pathogens may cause the common cold. Likewise, an air conditioner may cause you to have an itchy throat. Air conditioners dry out the indoor air, which then dries out and irritates the mucous membrane in the throat.

However, an air conditioner that’s in good working condition cannot make you sick or give you a cold. There’s nothing about reducing the temperature in your home or filtering your air that increases your risk of a cold.

How to get rid of an air conditioner cough?

Get rid of an air conditioner cough by cleaning your home/air conditioning unit, turning down the aircon, or switching to a swamp/evaporator cooler. There are two reasons an air conditioning unit may be causing a cough. The first is that your air conditioner is circulating dust or bacteria around your home, meaning either your home is dusty or your air conditioning unit has not been cleaned in a while. The second is that your air conditioner has dried out the air in your home, and this dry air is irritating your throat and lungs.

Cleaning your home and air conditioner helps put an end to a cough caused by circulating dust or bacteria. Turning down your AC or switching to an evaporating cooler (which increases rather than decreases humidity) minimises the symptoms stemming from dry air.

What are the alternatives to air conditioning?

The alternatives to air conditioning include fans and evaporative cooling. Traditional air conditioning is the most effective way to cool an interior space. However, most air conditioners are expensive and often difficult to install. The following are the three best alternatives to air conditioning.

  • Evaporative cooling: Evaporative cooling relies on the cooling effect of water evaporation to reduce ambient interior temperatures. Evaporative coolers comprise a fan and a wet pad to generate cool, humid airflow. You’re able to build your own rudimentary evaporative cooler by placing a tray of preferably-chilled water or ice in front of your fan or beside an opened window. Evaporative coolers are sometimes called “swamp coolers” because they significantly increase humidity and only produce the desired cooling effect in relatively dry climates. Evaporative cooling is a suitable air-con alternative in the UK, but only on hot days that are dry.
  • A fan: Tower, ceiling, desk, and pedestal fans are all able to generate airflow and thus relieve the stifling effects of extreme heat. The type of fan you need depends on your home’s configuration and size. However, note that no fans are able to achieve the same cooling effect that air conditioners produce, simply because fans cannot produce chilled air.