Air Conditioning Accounts for 10% of UK Energy Use

How a recent report by BRE, for DECC, points to increased use of air conditioning in offices and retail premises

Air conditioning consumption image by Hotsum (via Shutterstock).
A feature of many offices and retail premises in the UK: our love affair with air conditioning continues. Image by Hotsum (via Shutterstock).

In the last five years, Britain’s love affair with air conditioning systems hasn’t ceased. This was detailed in a report by BRE for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) (now part of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), which has seen a marked rise in usage since 2012.

The two-year study stated that 65% of offices and 30% of retail premises throughout the UK have air conditioning systems. Besides its rise in usage, efficiency was another concern. It was found that poor energy efficiency was caused by sloppy maintenance, operation, and control of HVAC systems. Another concern was hybrid systems, seen in 70% of offices and 50% of retail premises. There was evidence of aircon systems being switched on over the weekends, when the building was idle.  As a consequence, this takes up nearly 10% of the UK’s energy consumption.

For energy efficiency, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has predetermined benchmarks for HVAC systems. The benchmark is between 31 – 41 kWh/m2. For good environmental practice, the figures are between 14 – 21 kWh/m2.


  • Study on Energy Use by Air Conditioning: Final Report: BRE, June 2016.

ST Maintenance Solutions, 14 March 2017.

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