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What Aircon Alternatives are Available in the UK?

Aircon isn’t the final word in temperature control in UK offices and homes. We’ve selected a few of the best aircon alternatives on the market for any budget.

British offices and homes may not need air conditioning very regularly, but it is a great way to keep a steady temperature throughout the year. It also comes in very useful on those particularly hot summer days. Having the right aircon unit or an alternative, at the right price, is vital for homeowners and employers.

With so many aircon options available, which is best? It’s important to consider a few different factors before taking the plunge and choosing a temperature control alternative for your home or office, as temperature can play a major role in productivity and comfort.

Advantages and disadvantages of aircon in the UK

Traditional aircon has plenty of advantages, the main one being that you can guarantee a cool, constant temperature all year round. However, they can be expensive.

Basic freestanding aircon units can be found for less than £200 online, offering a good level of temperature control for small spaces. More capable units can cost upwards of £500, and you’ll need at least one per room in order to make the system effective.

New build offices can have an air-conditioning system installed for somewhere around £2,000. This will give a much better temperature control system but attempting to retrofit an aircon system into an older building can cost significantly more.

Cost of Air Conditioning and AlternativesLow EndHigh End
Solar Filmapprox. £350 for 1.5m x 30m roll
Freestanding Aircon Unit£99£550
Installed Aircon Unit (per room)£800£2,000 +
Aircon Hire (per week)£200£800 +

In effect, aircon in the UK is expensive—especially when you consider that for much of the year it will be left turned off. Fortunately, there are several cost-effective aircon alternatives on the market.

Solar films can improve heat control in any domestic or commercial building

Solar window film is a protective layer attached to windows on residential homes, office buildings and commercial properties. There are different solar films available for different glazing types, meaning that they are versatile and can be used on most windows in most environments.

Solar films offer greater heat control, durability and long-lasting effect. It is a much more cost-effective way to ensure rooms do not get too hot, even when in direct sunlight. It costs around £20 to buy film for a dual-pane 900mm x 1200mm window.

It is also possible to install window film without professional help, but it is recommended that you seek a professional to ensure that the installation is successful and lasts as long as possible.

Standing fans will keep air moving, but won’t cool a room

There is a popular myth that littering fans around a room will ensure a cooler temperature on hot summer days. However, fans simply push the air around a room creating a windchill effect over the skin.

Powerful fans are great when directed at people or desks, but have a limited effect beyond their initial target. They also have a significant financial drawback if you opt for powerful fans. While it is possible to pick up personal fans for less than £50 in most supermarkets, powerful fans for commercial use can set you back upwards of £400.

If you opt for a fan, be sure that it suits the space you intend to keep cool. Large rooms will need several standing fans in key points to ensure that air is moved around the room in an effective manner. It is worth looking at commercial providers if buying in bulk, as many will offer financing options.

Aircon hire in the UK

Because the weather in UK may mean you don’t need an air-conditioning unit all year round, it may be worth looking at hiring a powerful aircon system for those particularly muggy summer months.

You can hire aircon units and avoid the sizeable costs of installing fixed units, potentially saving money depending on the amount of use you require. Aircon units can be hired in the UK for anywhere between £47 and £1,000 a week from companies such as The Air Conditioning Company.

Which aircon alternative is best in the UK?

Aircon units are expensive and UK offices and homes do not require them all of the time, and so it is worth looking at the alternatives on the market.

Whether purchasing a temporary aircon unit or multiple fans, it is worth considering financing options and looking into hiring options as well. Retrofitting aircon is an expensive process but may save you thousands in the long-run as you avoid needing to hire units each summer.


Our team of writers has expertise in business, car, travel, home and pet insurance as well as personal finance issues.