Last month saw the UK issued its first-ever red weather warning, which saw schools shut and offices empty, as people across the country struggled to cope with the 40-degree weather. Here at Property Press Online, we put up an Instagram poll asking users the question: should new homes in the UK be built with air conditioning?
We found that 75% of users voted in favour of new builds now being built with air conditioning. But what exactly does this mean for the future of housing in Britain? Is this the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly route going forward? And are there other ways in which we can adapt to cope with soaring temperatures?
Homes In Britain
If there is one thing that Britain is not exactly renowned for it is our weather. Usually, we can expect a couple of hot days during summer, but these quickly fizzle out and are replaced with cooler temperatures and greyer skies.
As a result of this, our houses are built to cope with colder environments. Rather than being built to keep the heat out, houses in Britain are built with the sole aim of keeping warm air inside. This is all well and good for those cold winter nights, but when summer rolls around and the temperatures start to rise, it can quickly make your home become unbearable.
Tadj Oreszczyn, a professor of energy and environment at the University College London Energy Institute said “We are a heating-dominated country, not a cooling-dominated country. We haven’t designed our homes historically to cope with overheating. We’ve designed them to keep ourselves warm.”
Because of this, homes in Britain do not often come with air conditioning built in. There is unfortunately very little data available but according to a 2021 report from Britain’s department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy it is estimated that less than 5% of homes in England have air conditioning installed.
The Air Conditioning Conundrum
Whilst air conditioning undoubtedly provides relief from the sweltering temperatures, could it be adding to the problem?
Air conditioners are responsible for using more electricity than any other appliance in the home. They consume an estimated 10% of global electricity, alongside electric fans, and leak potent planet-warming gasses into the atmosphere.
On the hottest day of the year in some parts of the US and the Middle East, 70% of peak residential electricity demand is for cooling spaces.
The rising temperatures that we have been experiencing are not likely to go away any time soon. MET Office scientist Dr Nikos Christidis said “In a recent study we found that the likelihood of extremely hot days in the UK has been increasing and will continue to do so during the course of the century, with the most extreme temperatures expected to be observed in the southeast of England.”
He went on to say that “Climate change has already influenced the likelihood of temperature extremes in the UK. The chances of seeing 40°C days in the UK could be as much as 10 times more likely in the current climate than under a natural climate unaffected by human influence. The likelihood of exceeding 40°C anywhere in the UK in a given year has also been rapidly increasing, and, even with current pledges on emissions reductions, such extremes could be taking place every 15 years in the climate of 2100”.
Ways To Keep Cool
If you are considering installing air conditioning in your home, these are the prices you can expect to face according to Checkatrade:
|Split Air Conditioner System
|Small Home Office
|Six Room Multi-Split Unit
|Ducted Air Conditioner System
|Small Home Office
If you are in the majority of houses that do not have an air conditioning unit in your home, then do not despair. There are other ways to help keep cool in these warm summer months, besides cranking the air conditioning up to its highest level and hoping for the best.
1. Keep Your Windows Closed
This may seem like a counterproductive measure, but keeping your window closed can help keep the warm air out and the cold air in. You can open your windows on a night when the air is cooler but during the day, closed they should stay.
2. Keeping Your Curtains Drawn
Another way that you can help keep your house cool is by keeping your curtains drawn. The curtains will help shield your rooms from the sun outside and will cast shade into your home. Leaving them open will let the sun in and will instead heat your home.
3. Invest In A Good Fan
Whilst still not the most environmentally friendly option, a fan still creates less of a carbon footprint than an air conditioning unit. Having a fan pointed towards you is a great way to keep yourself and your home cool during these hot summer heatwaves.
4. Ice Fan
This is an add-on to the previous point but placing a bag of ice in front of the fan will allow it to blow even colder air around your house.
5.Ditch The Bedding
Ditching your bedding for cool cotton sheets is a great way to keep cool and ensure a great night’s sleep. Cotton is incredibly light and breathable and will mean that even if the temperatures are high, you will remain less bothered by it.
Is Air Conditioning The Way Forward?
Here at Property Press Online, we think that whilst air conditioning serves a good purpose and helps to make these summer days bearable, it should not be built into new homes across the UK. Doing so would not only be incredibly uneconomical, but it would also be incredibly damaging to the environment and would only fuel the flames of climate change.
We think that instead other steps should be taken to help combat the warmer weather we will be facing in the future.
This covers everything you need to know about the rising demand for air conditioning in UK homes. If you have any questions, queries, or insight into the matter, please feel free to get in touch!