Why do so few Brits have air conditioning?

Written by:

Mohammad Bakshayesh

Senior Engineer, Barnet Climate Control

Less than 5% of UK homes have air conditioning, which is an alarming low % as our summers
are only going to be getter hotter and hotter. Last year, temperatures reached 40* in some
parts of the country, and over 3000 deaths were caused from heat related issues.
Many Britons before have said that there isn’t enough day of heat for air conditioning to be
a worth investment, however due to the increase in global warming and warmer summers,
a lot of Brits are starting to re-consider.

Photography from a home in Reading attempting to keep the sun out
Geoffrey Swaine / Shutterstock

In Britain, where less than 5% of homes have air conditioning installed, it becomes
extremely dangerous and difficult to endure when the weather gets above 30*. London
Luton airport had to close the runway the tarmac was melted due to the heat. Train delays
were caused as well as there were fears of buckling tracks, as the UK’s infrastructure was
designed for cool climate.
“We are a heating-dominated country, not a cooling-dominated country,” said Tadj
Oreszczyn, a professor of energy and environment at the University College London Energy

In the UK, our infrastructure has been designed with greater emphasis on cooling as our
winters can last up to 5 months and our average summer temperature ranges between
13C – 24C. However, as of recent years, due to climate change and global warming, our
need for cooling has become more apparent than ever.
Another reasons why so few Brits have air conditioning is due to the housing stock. Around
15% of our homes were built before 1900 and another 46% were built between 1930 and 1982.

Air conditioning during these times weren’t available and were extremely expensive.
Due to the limited space in Britain, we have a lot of terraced houses which makes it
extremely difficult to get air conditioning installed. The only feasible way to get air
conditioning installed with a terraced house would be if you are going through a full refurb
so that the pipes can be accessed and installed behind the plasterboard.
Around 50% of the cooling demand in the UK come from outside the home, from retail
locations and hospitals. This would be due to a lot of new offices and buildings, being built
more recently and companies have more money to spend on cooling needs Due to covid-19,
a lot of people are having to work from home, which has seen a spike in demand for air
As the heatwaves get worse, more frequent and last longer in the UK, the demand for air
conditioning will be greater than ever. If you’re looking to get cooler this summer, get in
touch with us and get a free no obligation site survery and quote from one of our expert technicians.

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