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How much does it cost to have air conditioning at home in Spain?

With a particularly hot June and rocketing electricity bills, is it financially viable to have air conditioning in your Spanish property, or are the electricity bills too expensive?

How much does it cost to have air conditioning at home in Spain?
Photo: jlmaral/Flickr

With temperatures in the mid to high thirties during the day (and up to the forties in some places and Andalusia), and the mercury not dropping below 25°C at night in some parts of the country, summers in Spain can be insufferably hot for many people.

Obviously, there are many ways to cool down at home, whether it’s by having a shower, taking a dip in the swimming pool (if you’re lucky enough to have one) or using a fan to waft some air your way, but even by Spanish standards, May and June 2022 have so far been scorchers and have set the scene for a sweltering summer season.

READ ALSO: 11 ways to cut costs as Spain’s electricity rates beat price records

Unfortunately, none of the short-term solutions are quite as effective or long-lasting as air conditioning, but the perceived high cost of having a device installed, the electricity it uses, and rocketing bills may put many people off getting it.

So how much does air conditioning cost in Spain and what are the factors that can influence pricing and monthly bills?

The device

There are several types of air conditioners available in Spain, some of which are not technically air-con machines but are sold as such, with the primary purpose being to take hot air from a room and turn it into cold air.

The split system, which has an external device that goes outside the home (balcony, façade, garden etc) and an internal unit, is the most common one in Spain and has medium electricity consumption. The split system can also include several internal units in different rooms, at a higher cost of course.

READ ALSO: How the right orientation of your Spanish home can save you hundreds on energy bills

The average price of a Split 1×1 (for one room) in Spain can vary greatly depending on the brand and its capabilities, with prices ranging between €300 and €1,400. Keep in mind that installation costs for split systems range from €300 to €400. This means you could be paying a total of up to €1,800 per room, but it would depend on the make. 

There are also the more compact air-con devices that go on the wall and don’t require an external unit, as well as the portable devices on wheels, both of which cost less than split devices (€350 to €600) but have higher electricity consumption.

What to keep in mind when buying

– The power of an air conditioner is determined by ‘frigorías‘ the unit which measures its cooling potential. Although the more ‘frigorías’ per hour determines how fast the device can cool, other factors such as the size of a room, the number of people in it, its geographical positioning, the temperature outside and the home’s building materials can all play a role in how effectively an air conditioner can cool. It’s important to bring all these factors up when talking to the seller.

– Buying a device with an energy performance certificate can influence your monthly bill. The highest rating (A+++) can save up to 125 percent of energy when compared to the lowest-performing air conditioners (G).

– Make sure your air conditioner uses Inverter technology, a system that regulates the speed of the compressor so that it works constantly but more efficiently instead of how older air conditioners operate – working at maximum speed at all times. This will make your device quieter, it will last longer and will lower your energy bills.

What will an air conditioner cost me in terms of monthly electricity bills?

Not only is Spain experiencing some scorching spring temperatures, but 2022 has also seen a record spike in electricity prices due to global inflation and the war in Ukraine causing natural gas prices to jump.

Yet, electricity prices had been rising before this year – over the course of 2021, people in Spain paid an average of €949 in electricity compared to €675 in 2020.

The price of electricity in June 2022 is above €200 per MWh and, according to rate comparer Selectra , air conditioning costs €0.44 per hour in the most expensive times, which are on weekdays between 10am and 2pm and 6pm to 10pm. In 2021 it cost €0.33 cents per hour.

According to Spanish consumer watchdog OCU, this increase will mean an additional €36 per month for using an air-con for five hours a day, on top of your normal electricity bill.

Setting your air conditioning to less than 25°C can also make your energy bills shoot up. “Each degree that we lower the temperature, consumption will increase by 8 percent, which in turn will increase our electricity bill,” said spokesman for Selectra, Joaquín Segura.

2022’s double-whammy of climate and energy shocks, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, mean that you might need to think a bit more carefully about using air-con and the effect it’ll have on your electricity bills.

As mentioned above, there are a number of factors ranging from the air conditioner’s capabilities and efficiency to the room’s features, which can all influence how much you pay.

Spain and Portugal recently presented a joint proposal to the European Union to significantly lower electricity prices, aiming to cut bills to around €130 per megawatt per hour on average over the course 2022, compared to €210 in the first quarter of the year. Yet, bills remain high for now.

READ ALSO: Spain and Portugal present their ‘energy island’ plan for cutting electricity costs

For example, if we take the price of €0.44 per kWh and an average consumption of 2 kWh, as is the case for most air conditioners in Spain, we can calculate that switching one device on for an hour would cost you approximately €0.88. 

This would add €26.40 to your monthly electricity bill if the air conditioner was switched on for only one hour a day for 30 days.

If you had it on for 10 hours a day, which can be tempting, especially in southern Spain in the summer, the 20kW daily consumption would cost you €8.80 per day, which would set you back €264 per month.

And if you wanted to leave your air-con on constantly for 24 hours a day, the 48kW of daily consumption would be €21.12, adding an eye-watering €633.60 to your monthly bill.

Keep in mind that these costs are only for the air conditioner’s energy consumption and that your monthly electricity bill will also include ‘término de potencia‘ (contracted power), ‘alquiler del contador‘ (electricity meter rental), ‘impuesto sobre la electricidad‘ (electricity tax) and IVA (VAT).

One of the best ways to keep costs down is to keep the temperature on the air conditioner at a more moderate 25°C for a longer time than to blast cool air at 16°C for a shorter period. 

READ MORE: What you need to know about installing an air conditioner in your apartment in Spain

Member comments

  1. For those interested it seems to be pretty reasonable to have a one room split aircon system installed in Spain. By comparison a decent Daiken split system for a 36m2 south facing double gazed lounge here in New Aquitaine, France will cost between about 2480 eur and 2950 eur ttc installed (tva 10%) depending on the installer and your nationality !

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ENERGY

Is it realistic for Spain to set the air con limit at 27C during summer?

Spain will force shops, supermarkets, bars, restaurants and hotels to set their air conditioning at 27 degrees as part of the country's newly unveiled energy-saving plan. But is it feasible to expect this to happen as the country endures one of its hottest summers in recent memory? 

Is it realistic for Spain to set the air con limit at 27C during summer?

The most controversial measure of the Spanish government’s newly announced energy-saving plan is the limit it has set for heating and air conditioning.

During the autumn and winter months, the heating in most indoor public spaces cannot be higher than 19C.

During summer, air-conditioners will not be able to blow cold air at a temperature below 27C. 

As most of Spain teeters on the brink of its third heatwave in the last two and half months, it’s no surprise that the new rules haven’t gone down well among business owners and the general population as a whole. 

It initially seemed that the new temperature limits would apply only to large public buildings, shopping centres, cultural spaces and transport hubs (airports, train stations etc), but the latest state bulletin suggests that the measure also applies to pretty much every shop, supermarket, bar, hotel, café, cinema and restaurant, regardless of their size.

The only exceptions to the 27C rule are hospitals, hair salons, educational institutions, gyms, supermarkets’ freezer aisles and the kitchens and cold rooms of restaurants and bars, based on the clarifications offered by Spain’s Commerce Minister Reyes Maroto on Tuesday August 2nd.

One could expect more overlooked exceptions to follow as Spain’s state bulletin (BOE) doesn’t offer a detailed list of which premises do and don’t have to stick to the new rules.

However, as things stand the rest of Spain’s public and private establishments have seven days (until August 10th) to adapt to the new temperature limits. The measures will remain in place until November 2023.

If managers and business owners don’t take the measures seriously, they will first be given a warning, and if they continue to set the thermostat as they see fit, they will face fines of between €60,000 for minor infractions and up to €100 million for very serious offences.

“With every degree not applied to heating or cooling, 7 percent of energy consumption is saved,” the Spanish government justified in its state bulletin.  

Spain’s emergency cost-cutting measures are being introduced within the context of the EU’s plans to lower the bloc’s energy consumption and dependence on Russian oil and gas.

Other European countries also introduced their tailor-made energy-saving plans in recent days.

But is it feasible for the Spanish government to require hundreds of thousands of businesses to set their thermostats at a temperature which for many people is already hot, even if outdoors it’s 10 degrees higher?

Voices from within Spain’s hospitality sector have already commented on the fact that customers are less likely to pay them a visit if they get no real respite from the heat in their premises, and that there is also the risk of food having to go to waste as a result of the higher temperatures.

“I think it’s an absolute disgrace,” Toni Gayà, head of the Balearics Business Owners Federation (Afedeco) told local daily Ultima Hora.

“On top of that you have Pedro Sánchez coming out and saying that he will take off his tie in solidarity with us.

“Not all businesses are the same, some have to have a lower temperature than others”.

Some hospitality business owners say the 27C limit will mean their food will go to waste as a result of the higher temperatures. Spencer Platt/Getty Images via AFP

“At 27C during summer, you won’t be able to visit El Corte Inglés department store for example, there will be a bad smell in the air and no one will want to stay”.

However, clothing giant Inditex, which owns Zara and other famous brands, has said that it already strictly applies the 27C limit in all its stores.

But Gayà argued that applying the same temperature limit across the whole of Spain was also a mistake: “The weather in Asturias isn’t the same as in Andalusia”.

In the hotel industry, there’s also a division of opinions. Representatives of Spanish hotelier union CEHAT have argued that “it’s time for Spain to show solidarity with our compatriots in central and northern Europe”, whilst other associations such as the Hospitality Business Association have stressed that the comfort of customers and workers should be kept in mind.

What do the energy experts say?

“Setting the air-conditioner at 27C is not realistic,” José Ignacio Linares, energy engineer at Madrid’s Comillas University, told Spain’s public radio station RNE.

“The measure will be more efficient during the winter months than during summer.

Yolanda Moratilla, of Spain’s Committee of Energy and Natural Resources agrees, adding that “it’s a lot harder to save gas with cooling than with heating.”

“It’d be a tough ask if they asked us to put the air con at home at 25C”, she joked about the fact that 27C doesn’t exactly cool people down.  

“It’s more about lecturing than actual effectiveness,” Linares said with regard to the whole package of energy-saving measures, including the new rule which states that the lights in shop windows and public buildings should be switched off at 10pm.

Improving the insulation of buildings in Spain or preventing the closure of nuclear plants in the country would be far more effective energy-saving measure according to some of the experts.  

Dr. Antonio Turiel of Spain’s Research Council (CSIC) has argued that the Spanish government could have taken more drastic measures whilst calling the new rules “logical” within the current context. 

“It was an essential step to try to reach that 7 percent gas reduction target that the European Union is pushing us to achieve as a result of the war in Ukraine, it’s only the beginning of a process of change,” Turiel told public broadcaster RTVE.

However, the theoretical physicist stressed that a blanket limit on air-conditioning shouldn’t necessarily apply to all workers in Spain: “It’s not the same to work in an office at 27C than working at 27C when you have a job that’s more physically demanding”. 

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