Sweltering temperatures have hit Britain this week and with millions still working from home, or home-schooling, many are cooped up in properties with no air conditioning.
Here, This is Money, using figures from Uswitch, reveals the cost per hour of running a number of the most in-demand cooling units and garden must-haves this summer.
Demand for pricey portable air conditioning units has soared over the last few months, but one of these snazzy devices could end up adding an extra £28 to your energy bill a week during peak use, according to the comparison website.
Cooling: The cost of running an air conditioning unit and standard fan varies significantly
On average, a portable air conditioning unit uses 2.7 kilowatts of energy, and costs 44p an hour to run.
This is the equivalent of running a washing machine or tumble dryer constantly throughout a 24 hour period.
In the course of a week, and if the device is used for nine hours a day, this could add nearly £120 to your energy bill a month.
When using devices like portable air conditioning units during a heatwave, Uswitch found that most households have them switched on for over nine hours a day, split into 4.3 hours in the daytime and 4.8 hours at night.
While portable air conditioning units could end up costing you a small fortune both in up-front costs and your future energy bills, another option to consider during a heatwave is an air cooling unit.
This differs from a portable air conditioning unit in that it uses water rather than a coolant to lower the temperature of a room.
More than 2million Britons have had their eye on snapping up an air cooler unit this year according to search data and while these can be expensive to buy, they can be cheaper to run than a portable air conditioning unit in the long run.
According to Uswitch’s research, an air cooler uses 75 watts of energy and costs just 1p an hour to run, which is 43p an hour less than many portable air conditioning units on the market.
Meanwhile, a bog standard electric fan uses up around 120 watts of power and costs 2p an hour to run.
In fact, in exclusive figures seen by This is Money, a Dyson air cooler costing hundreds of pounds could cost around the same to run an hour as a standard tower fan.
Taking one example, the Dyson AM07 cooler, which typically costs over £300 to buy, claims to use up 56 watts of power, meaning it would cost around 0.9p an hour to run, or 3.6p for four hours.
Meanwhile, the Bionaire BT19 Tower Fan, which costs around the £60 mark to purchase, claims to use up around 50 watts of power, so its cost an hour would end up being reasonably similar to the Dyson.
On Dyson’s website, the AM07 cooler is currently out of stock, but it is available to but via other retailers.
Out of stock: The Dyson AMO7 cooler is currently out of stock on Dyson’s website, but it is available elsewhere
Sarah Broomfield, an energy expert at Uswitch, said: ‘In normal times, millions of workers would be spending this heatwave in a perfectly chilled air conditioned office.
‘Now an open window and a desk fan is the best that many of us can hope for.’
She added: ‘Portable air conditioning units are an effective way to keep a room cool, but they consume a lot of power and could well bring about a nasty surprise when the next energy bill arrives.’
What cheaper ways are their to cool down?
Sarah says: ‘There are plenty of cheaper ways to control your temperature at home, such as placing a bowl of ice cubes in front of an electric fan.
‘The fan will create a refreshing breeze as it blows the ice-cooled air around the room.’
Another way to help keep your home cool during a heatwave is to make sure your curtains are shut all day, as the sun seeping in through a window can turn your home into something resembling a greenhouse in no time at all.
Once Britons were ordered to stay indoors by the Government in March, the sun started shining in earnest and since lockdown began demand for cooling devices has rocketed.
Comparing the first week of March to 17-23 May, there was a 1,200 rise in online searches for air coolers, according to Uswitch’s analysis of Google Trends data.
Meanwhile, demand for portable air conditioning units has increased by 360 per cent over the dates in question, while searches for standard electric fans rose by 37 per cent.
Naturally, retailers know there is huge demand for these products at present, meaning many shoppers will be hard-pressed to find one at a decent discount on the most sought after coolers.
How much? Using an electric barbecue will have an impact on your energy bill
Garden energy guzzlers
Keeping up with the Jones’ on the garden front is big business, and with people spending so much time at home, demand for items like hot tubs has been surging in recent months.
Comparing the first week of March and 17-23 May, online searches for hot tubs, electric barbecues and outdoor garden cinema screen projectors have risen by 775 per cent, 764 per cent and 238 per cent respectively.
But, when buying these products, shoppers need to be aware about the potential impact they may have on their energy bill.
Costly luxury: Running a hot tub can end up costing you when it comes to your energy bill
A garden hot tub burns up around 3,000 watts of power and is expensive to run, costing around 49p an hour.
Meanwhile, an electric barbecue costs around 29p an hour to run, while a cinema projector for the garden costs around the 5p an hour mark.
For when the cooler nights set in once more, an electric patio heater could come in handy, but these, on average, according to Uswitch, are fairly pricey to run, costing around 33p an hour.
Be bill aware
Energy customers could be in debt by £94 per household by the end of this summer – leading to a £2.6billion debt nationwide, recent research has revealed.
The ‘surprise’ debt will be accrued by the number of households using more energy during lockdown, according to analysis by Energy Helpline.
Households are thought to be using 30 per cent more electricity now that most are spending more of their time at home.
Watch out: Your energy bill could cost more than usual this summer
There are concerns that the increase in energy bills will leave customers who usually have credit on their account for extra usage in the winter with nothing to fall back on later in the year.
Tom Lyon, director of energy for Energy Helpline, said: ‘Under normal circumstances, we’d currently be experiencing low energy use coming into summer.
‘But this pandemic is anything but normal, with energy debts quietly piling up across the nation, leading to what may be yet another strain on household finances this winter.
‘Fortunately, it’s easy to reduce the risk of domino energy debts – all you need to know is what to do.
‘The most painless way to bring down your bills is simple – just switch to save on energy. You could relieve yourself from the financial anxiety of a big bill that may be quietly ballooning in just minutes and save £420.’
Energy jargon: What’s the difference between kWh and kW?
kW stands for kilowatt. A kilowatt is simply 1,000 watts, which is a measure of power. So, for example, the 10,000 watt electric shower in the top bullet point above could also be called a 10 kilowatt shower.
A kilowatt hour (kWh) is a measure of energy.
So a 1,000 watt drill needs 1,000 watts (1 kW) of power to make it work, and uses 1 kWh of energy in an hour.
That’s why, if you leave a TV or computer on standby, it is still using power and creating a kWh cost on your energy bill.
Source: Ovo Energy
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