Last week’s heatwave left most of us wishing we had that little added luxury called air conditioning in our homes, but the fact of the matter is, not many UK homes have air con systems installed. We’ve never needed it really – or if we have, it hasn’t been often has it? But with global warming and temperatures increasing year on year, could air con in UK homes become standard in the future?
Back in 2008, Mintel carried out a study which showed that just 0.5% of UK homes had some form of air conditioning; to put this into perspective, more than 100 million homes in America have air con installed. Fast forward 14 years to 2022, and our number is still low in Britain at just 5%. However, despite this low figure, we still have more air conditioned homes than Germany who stand at 3%, and France who have less than 5%.
Historically, European countries did not need air conditioning in the way that they did in say South America, because our temperatures just simply didn’t equal theirs. However, with the UK seeing temperatures of well over 30 degrees during last weeks heatwave, is it time we started to consider air conditioning as part of the structure of new build homes? Even before our mini heatwave, European nations had been moving closer to the adoption of air con, and in a 2018 report, it was noted by the International Energy Agency that in other European countries, air con ownership had been increasing rapidly over the past decade. The report suggested that by 2050 there would be 275 million air conditioning units in the European Union; a significant increase from the 110 million in 2019.
Demand for air con has increased in the UK over previous years – jumping from 154,000 in 2012 to 188,000 in 2017. Globally, there are around 1.6bn air con units in the world; it is predicted that a 244% increase will take place between 2016 and 2050, with the EU seeing a 185% increase in demand.
Last week’s mini heatwave showed the future for the UK when it comes to summer and higher temperatures, so it likely is probable that more houses in the UK will have air con installed in the future. New builds provide a perfect opportunity for this, as air con can be incorporated into planning and design. Action is vital, as if nothing is done, it is predicted that deaths due to heat in the UK will increase from 2,500 in 2020 to 7,000 a year by 2050.