30 degrees and more: air conditioner for home – real added value or just an expensive power guzzler?
In the USA it is standard, in Germany (still) a real rarity: air conditioners for your own home. Meanwhile, the devices can be a blessing, especially in the summer heat. But do the systems keep what they promise? The consumer center clarifies.
It's completely normal in the car: just switch on the air conditioning and after a few minutes you'll be enjoying the cool air. In German apartments and houses, however, this is the exception – but why?
After all, it's not exactly fun to roll around in bed when the temperature inside is 27 degrees.
Air conditioners for consumers promise the solution to the unbearable heat. But before you buy, you should think twice about whether the purchase is worthwhile, because there are several catches.
Consumer center: air conditioners often inefficient
The consumer advice center is rather critical of the use of air conditioning units. The main argument is the relatively high acquisition costs and the power consumption, which can quickly add up to 60 to 140 euros per year, depending on the period of use. For comparison: A fan only costs 5 euros in electricity even for 90 days of 10 hours a year.
In the case of air conditioning units for personal use, a distinction is made between monoblock and split units.
Monobloc: A mobile stand-alone unit for the interior that directs the exhaust air to the outside through a gap in the window. The devices can be used on the go, but not as efficiently. Split device: These devices work more efficiently, but are rarely suitable for renters, since the installation has to be carried out by specialists and approved by the landlord – because here you have to drill through the wall. The loud compressor on the outside wall could disturb neighbors, and the acquisition costs are very high.
Functioning of the devices
The biggest problem is often how it works: Cooling devices have to lead the warm exhaust air outside somehow. In the case of a monoblock, this is done via a hose that is guided through an open window with a special attachment.
However, these seals are usually hardly effective and thus allow more new warm air into the room than a closed window with double or triple glazing. Small devices often cannot cool properly in rooms with large windows or direct sunlight.
Other counter-arguments for air conditioners:
Volume: The quietest devices operate at at least 50 decibels, with 60 dB being more common. Falling asleep is not easy for everyone. At the highest level, a fan has less than 40 dB. Acquisition costs: Cheap monoblocks are around 200 euros, split devices quickly cost ten times that. Here, too, a good fan is significantly cheaper at 50 to 80 euros.Maintenance: Air conditioners cause condensation that has to be removed regularly. Evaporators and filters also need to be cleaned occasionally, otherwise performance can be affected and mold or bacteria can develop.
How often is it hot in the year
The consumer center also points out that there are on average only 20 hot days per year in Germany. According to Statista, the average temperature in the last five years was only 12 days above 30 degrees Celsius.
It is therefore questionable whether the high acquisition costs for an air conditioner are worth it compared to the service life.
However, everyone perceives heat differently, so that even 25 degrees can be perceived as heat – especially in the bedroom, where the ideal temperature for a restful night's sleep is between 18 and 20 degrees.
Other methods for cooling
As already mentioned several times, you can also buy a fan instead of an expensive air conditioner. The moving air feels cooler when in fact it isn't.
One underestimated method is not letting the heat in in the first place. You should therefore keep the windows closed during the day and only ventilate the room at night.
External blinds and thermal roller blinds, which you can easily clamp in the window, offer additional protection. You should also leave these down all day and only let in the most necessary daylight.
What many don't have on their radar: ceiling fans above the bed can circulate a lot of air with large rotor blades. They run quietly and can therefore remain switched on all night. Here, too, there are good devices including lighting between 80 and 150 euros.
Buying an air conditioner: you have to pay attention to this
If you ultimately want to buy an indoor air conditioner, you should find out about the available products in advance. It depends on a few factors, including:
(recommended) room sizeenergy efficiency classsound power leveldehumidification performance
CHIP has tested almost 300 different devices for you and made a preselection for you. More information can be found in our detailed report.
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