All-Season Comfort: How Efficient is Air Conditioning for Heating in the UK?

How Efficient is Air Conditioning for Heating in the UK?

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Absolute Climate Solutions

When we think of air conditioning or AC, we typically associate it with cooling. We imagine groups of people congregating at the local AC equipped supermarket, so as to escape an unexpected heatwave! As well as the obvious cooling functionality, how efficient is air conditioning for heating in the uk? It’s worth considering whether in the UK (where weather patterns are particularly diverse), air conditioning could be used not only to cool your building but to heat it too.

Wouldn’t it be great to install one single system that heats your home or business premises efficiently during the cooler winters (an aircon radiator) and cools it during warm spells? This blog explores AC as a heating solution. We review the mechanics of AC, its efficiency, and its suitability in the UK’s temperamental climate.

keeping your home warm

AC Beyond Cooling: A Concealed Heating Jewel?

Air conditioning units operate by transferring heat from one place to another. For example, in the summer, they remove heat from indoors and move it outside, keeping us cool. However, what many people may not know is that AC units are also capable of reversing this process. Air conditioning units have come a long way since they began as cooling devices. Dual-function AC units have developed over time, in line with the demand for year-round climate control.

The invention of the heat pump meant that the process that AC units use for cooling could be easily reversed – heat from the outdoors extracted and warmth provided indoors. But, how efficient is air conditioning for heating the uk? Well, you might be surprised to learn that modern AC units, including heating capabilities, make a cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution for year-round climate control in the UK.

Unveiling Air Con Energy Efficiency: What Does it Truly Signify?

AC for heating is energy efficient but is air conditioning cheaper than gas central heating uk?

An article by the BBC notes: ‘Heat pumps are normally three times more efficient than gas boilers, but they use electricity to run, and electricity prices can be more expensive than gas, so it depends on fossil-fuel energy costs.’ ‘BBC Online’ (2023) Available at: Heat pumps: How do they work and how do I get one? – BBC News

When choosing an aircon radiator system for heating, it’s worth considering energy efficiency in depth. A higher efficiency system will result in lower energy bills and reduced environmental impact. You can understand how efficient a heating system is by working out how effectively it converts energy into heat. To understand this, you must find out how much heat the AC system can produce per unit of energy consumed.
Several factors define air con energy efficiency. For example, you should consider the design of the equipment, the type of refrigerant used, the insulation in your home, and outdoor temperatures. Understanding the above will help you to understand the system’s effectiveness in keeping your home or business premises warm.

UK Climate Overview: A Proving Ground for AC Warm Air Heating Systems

As we’re sure you will appreciate, the UK’s climate is changeable across the different seasons. Generally, the winters are cool and damp, whilst the summers see warmer weather. Autumn and Spring are often bright and sunny with periods of rainfall. Not only is the weather changeable in the UK, but it can be extremely unpredictable. It is not uncommon to experience a week of mild weather in winter followed by a freezing cold snap. During milder periods, you would expect your heating system to operate efficiently without wasting energy. On the contrary, during a particularly cold period, you would like your heating system to keep you warm, and to do this, it would need to work extra hard.

This changeable climate places a rather significant challenge on heating systems and in an ideal world, most property owners would opt for a system that is adaptable and able to cope with the varied weather.

Thorough Analysis: AC Heating Through the Seasons in the UK

How efficient is air conditioning for heating?

Installing an AC system in your UK-based home or business is a great way to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the changing seasons. Though for the most part, our homes and buildings do not require heating or cooling during the month of Spring, as natural ventilation is sufficient, AC can be beneficial on the warmer days to ensure a comfortable indoor temperature. Similarly, UK Summers are usually mild to warm without the need for regular indoor cooling, though AC units prove to be particularly useful during the occasional heatwave.

Temperatures in the UK generally drop during the Autumn and there is an increased need for heating. The above leads us to consider – how efficient is air conditioning for heating? The good news is that most modern AC systems in the UK are designed with heat pump technology, which allows them to function as an aircon radiator as well as a cooling system. The UK winter is usually cold and damp with occasional periods of freezing weather. AC units equipped with heat pumps can be used to heat your home or business effectively throughout the cold winter months.

Comparative Study: AC vs. Traditional Heating Solutions

Is air conditioning cheaper than gas central heating uk?

‘During the winter months, most UK residents keep warm using gas central heating. In a 2022 survey conducted by the UK Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), it found that 78 percent of respondents used this method of heating.’ ‘Statista Research Department’ (2023) Available at: UK: heating methods survey 2022 | Statista

Although the most popular method to heat homes and businesses in the UK is with gas central heating, other conventional methods include electric storage heaters and oil central heating. Is air conditioning cheaper than gas central heating uk? We explore this and other factors in the table below.

AspectAC unit (with heat pump)Gas central heating
Cost of installationGenerally higher upfront costs, both in terms of the cost of the equipment and installation.Lower upfront cost due to widespread use of the system.
Ongoing costTypically lower ongoing costs due to the efficiency of heat pump technology.Ongoing costs can vary depending on the price of gas, which can vary significantly.
Energy efficiencyHighly energy efficient, typically 3-4 units of heat produced for 1 unit of energy used.Less energy efficient compared to heat pumps.
Environmental impactLower carbon emissions due to efficient operation and use of renewable electricity sources.Higher carbon emissions due to the combustion of natural gas.
Heating performanceRelatively effective in maintaining indoor comfort even in cold UK winters.Highly effective in providing warmth during cold UK winters.

Checkatrade notes that the average cost of installing an entire gas central heating system can cost anything between £3,000 – £7,500. ‘Checkatrade’ (2022)

On the other hand, installing AC units costs approximately £2,500 – £3000 per room. ‘Check a trade’ (2023) Available at: Air Conditioning Installation Cost in 2023 | Checkatrade

Although the upfront cost of installing an AC unit equipped with heating functionality is higher than more conventional heating methods, it is important for you to consider the potential long-term savings of using AC equipment for heating. Once installed, the ongoing cost of running an AC unit as a warm air heating system is generally lower and the environmental impact is significantly less. Using an AC unit to heat your home also means that you will have the benefit of cooling functionality during warmer spells. That being said, gas central heating is highly effective in providing warmth during cold UK winters.

Get in touch via our contact page if you would like to find out more about utilising an energy efficient air conditioner to heat your home. Fill in the online form, give us a call, or send us an email and one of the team will be pleased to help you.

energy efficiency

Environmental and Economic Impacts: A Balanced Perspective

How efficient is air conditioning for heating?

A fact to pique your interest: ‘Governments around the world are taking necessary steps to cut global emissions. In a bid to reduce the UK’s emissions, the government has announced a ban on gas boilers.’ Did you know that ‘By 2025, gas boilers will be banned from newly built houses , and by 2035, the UK will phase out all gas boiler installations.’? ‘The Eco Experts’ (2023)

How efficient is air conditioning for heating in the uk? Modern AC units with heat pump technology are more energy-efficient than traditional heating systems which therefore results in lower carbon emissions. Modern AC units can utilise renewable energy sources, further reducing their environmental impact. However, it’s important to understand that their efficiency may decrease in extremely cold conditions, potentially increasing energy consumption.

From an economic perspective, as mentioned above, AC units as a warm air heating system have a high initial installation cost. However lower ongoing operating costs, energy efficiency, and potential government incentives or grants can offset the initial investment over time and make them a more cost-effective choice in the long run.

When chosen correctly, AC units can be an economically viable and environmentally friendly option for heating UK homes and businesses, where we experience moderate winters and where the heating load is not excessively high.

The Practicalities: Installation and Maintenance Considerations

AC units are typically installed on walls or roofs and you should therefore assess your indoor and outdoor space to make sure that it is sufficient. Upfront costs include not only the purchase of the unit and installation fees but some buildings may also require additional electrical infrastructure. Regular maintenance, including filter cleaning and refrigerant checks, is essential to ensure optimal performance and efficiency. Extremely cold weather can affect the way that an AC unit operates. When it is freezing, it may not operate as efficiently, leading to higher energy consumption. It’s also possible that during these times, additional heating sources might be required.

How efficient is air conditioning for heating in the uk

In Conclusion: How Efficient is Air Conditioning for Heating in the UK?

So, how efficient is air conditioning for heating in the uk? Having reviewed the mechanics, efficiency and performance, in the UK, where we enjoy a relatively temperate climate, air conditioning as a heating solution is a real possibility! It offers year-round comfort, potentially reduces energy bills, and has a lower environmental footprint if designed and used efficiently. However, it should be noted that its performance depends on various factors, including weather conditions, insulation, and installation quality. As with any heating solution, careful consideration, proper installation, and regular maintenance are essential to keep it running smoothly.

Ultimately, the choice between an energy efficient air conditioner and a traditional heating system should be guided by individual needs, priorities, and the desire for all-season comfort.

ACS Air Conditioning Services

If you have done your research and you’re ready to go ahead with air conditioning installation, we’d be pleased to help. We provide both domestic and commercial air conditioning services and when you choose Absolute Climate Solutions for your air conditioning installation, you can expect a seamless experience from start to finish. Our team of experienced professionals will be with you at every stage, beginning with the initial consultation and guiding you through to the completion of the installation process.

If you are interested in finding out more about using an energy-efficient air conditioner to heat your home, get in touch via our contact form. Fill in the online form, give us a call, or send us an email, and one of the team will be pleased to help you.

Have you recently had AC installed to heat your home or business? How have you found it? Please provide your comments in the section below.