Any links to online stores should be assumed to be affiliates. The company or PR agency provides all or most review samples. They have no control over my content, and I provide my honest opinion.

With the weather warming up and the cost of living crisis hitting us all hard, many people may be wondering about how much it costs to run various cooling appliances.

Air Conditioning Unit Running Costs

Inventor Portable Air Conditioner Chilly 9000BTU... Inventor Portable Air Conditioner Chilly 9000BTU... No ratings yet £229.99Amazon Prime

Air conditioning is the only way to effectively cool a room; everything else is just faking it. However, it takes a lot of energy to cool (and warm) things.

Portable air conditioning units have always been notoriously expensive to run. Most of the air conditioning units you see on Amazon have a cooling capacity of 9000 Btu/h or 12000 Btu/h.

Read More: How much does it cost to run a portable air conditioner, and how quickly does it cool a room?

A 12000 Btu/h will typically use around 1200w per hour, while a 9000 Btu/h will be closer to 800w. In theory, they will cost about the same to run if you cool a room down to a specific temperature; just one will be faster than the other (depending on insulation etc).

Last year, I worked out that my Inventor Magic 12000BTU Portable Air Conditioner was costing me 16.38p per hour to run (13.6476p/kWh), which was quite expensive if left on all the time, but not so bad for a few hours per day.

Today, based on variable tariffs (28.02 p/kWh) from British Gas and Bulb, that works out as 33.60p or a 105% price increase.

It is perhaps not prohibitively expensive if you are only running it a couple of hours per day, but I certainly wouldn’t be running it for many hours per day.

Upfront & Running Costs

  • Upfront: £300 – 600 for portable air conditioning units
  • Running: Roughly 33p per hour for 12000BTU
    • £1 per day if used conservatively

Evaporative Air Cooler / Swamp Cooler Running Costs

A popular alternative product is an air cooler, and you absolutely should not get this confused with air conditioning, which many people do.

They are often, not so affectionately, called swamp coolers. They are basically a fan that blows air over water. The cool water cools down the warm air and should cool down the room, or at least the person on the receiving end of the air.

The problem is that warm air passing over water creates humid air, and a humid room will feel warmer and clammier than a room with low humidity.

For obvious reasons, evaporative air cooling is significantly less effective in humid environments. However, in the UK that is not too much of an issue.  

You can keep your windows and doors open with these coolers, and considering the humidity, this is likely advisable. These are therefore semi-effective as a personal cooler and should provide a more pleasant cooling effect than a basic fan.

Evaporative air coolers should be no more expensive than a fan to run, because that’s all it is. If you use ice in the water, you may want to factor in the cost of that.

Fans are efficient to run and the electricity usage will vary per fan and depending on the setting you have it on.

Typically, this should be no more than 50-70W, so 0.07kwh. As you are unlikely to have a significant impact on the overall room temperature, you would likely want to run this for several hours per day as a personal cooler. The cost of running it is still going to be minimal.

The smaller desktop models are unlikely to do a great deal. I’d stick to the larger models. They will also be louder to run than a pedestal fan (which is important to me for sleeping).

Upfront & Running Costs

  • Upfront: £100 – 150 for free standing towers
  • Running: Roughly 2.5p per hour
    • 20p per day if used for 10 hours
    • Not including the cost of ice (if you use it)

Pedestal Fan Running Costs

I have reviewed several fans over the years, and they are my go-to piece of cooling tech. Not because they are particularly good, but because they are cheap. It’s basically just recirculating the already warm air. However, blowing the air onto you does definitely make a hot room less miserable.

In particular, I have been on a quest for the ultimate fan to be used during sleep. The trick is to have one that can run as slow as possible with minimum mechanical noise. I am yet to find the perfect solution.

I like pedestal fans because they are cheap, move a lot of air, and the large blades a quieter than tower fans.

My main office/bedroom fan is the Ansio 9-blade 26-speed Pedestal Fan. At its max speed of 26, this will daw 30w.

My Dyson Pure Cool tower fan, which is also an air purifier, uses 40W at its max setting of 10.

Upfront & Running Costs

  • Upfront: £30 – 130 depending on how fancy you go. Expensive models tend to have more speeds, can push more air and run quieter.
  • Running: Roughly 1.5p per hour
    • 15p per day if used for 10 hours


Obviously, anyone worried about the cost of living should reconsider buying an air conditioning unit. Others may feel the quality of life improvement is worth the cost.

Thankfully I live up north, so there are only about 5 warm days per year. This year, I may consider buying a swamp cooler to see if it improves my comfort during office hours.

Last update on 2024-04-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *