AC 'accounts for up to 10% of UK electricity'

A two-year report has revealed the key findings of AC electricity usage in UK non-domestic buildings. Commissioned by the former Department of Energy and Climate Change, the study was led by BRE's Dr Andy Lewry to informed research for the future policy.

The study analysed existing cooling demand and consumption by accessing air conditioning reports and energy performance certificates; and reviewing literature on trends in AC. 

Key findings and results... 
  • 1/10 of total UK electricity consumption is used by cooling air conditioning systems, also accounting for cooling in offices using 40kWh/sq m per year.
  • Air conditioning is being used frequently, even at times when the building is not being used - for example at the weekends or in the evening.
  • The proportion of buildings with air conditioning is constantly rising. The study estimates that in 2012, 65% of UK office spaces and 30% of UK retail space was air conditioned.
  • Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) analysis indicates that over half of the UK's air conditioning systems are split systems.


Among the 10% of EPC's that had AC inspections, the main recommendations were:  

  • Upgrading to more efficient equipment
  • Including variable speed drives
  • Reducing ductwork air leakage

These new findings are used to update the key inputs into the new BEIS department's model of air conditioning electricity demands and the development of an algorithm to estimate peak and monthly demand to supplement it, working towards reducing energy consumption and becoming energy efficient.