TM44 – Energy Performance of Buildings – Air Conditioning Inspections

Are you responsible for looking after an air-conditioning system?

If so, you now have a legal duty to make sure that if the installation has a total system cooling capacity greater than 12KW, it is inspected at intervals not exceeding five years. This mandatory inspection, which applies equally to dwellings and non-dwellings, is required by the European Union’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) and must be carried out by an Accredited Energy Assessor. It includes an assessment of the efficiency of the system, a review of the load sizing, and advice on improvements or replacements, as well as alternative solutions that will improve the efficiency of the system. However, these requirements do not extend to refrigeration systems serving cold rooms, chilled food display cabinets, etc; or to air-conditioning and refrigeration systems in vehicles. The key dates for these inspections to be completed are:  England, Wales and Northern Ireland

  • 1st January 2008 – First inspections of air-conditioning systems over 12kW put into service since this date must have a first inspection within five years of it first being put into service.
  • 4th January 2009 – First inspection of all existing air-conditioning systems over 250kW must have occurred.
  • 4th January 2011 – First inspection of all remaining air-conditioning systems over 12kW must have occurred.


  • For existing buildings, inspections will be phased in as follows:
  • For all systems with an effective rated output of more than 250KW, from 4 January 2009 with first inspections completed by 4 January 2011
  • For all other systems with an effective rated output of more than 12KW from 4 January 2011 with first inspections completed by 4 January 2013

The purpose of the inspections is to give building owners and operators information about the performance of their building’s air-conditioning system/s, and to identify opportunities to save energy and cut operating costs.

As far as possible, inspections are done by making visual observations of the system and other indicators such as refrigerant sight glasses, pressure, temperature or filter gauges. Where these are not available the Energy Assessor may be able to take some test readings.

Air-conditioning systems within scope of this scheme could comprise:

Centralised systems: in which refrigeration equipment delivers cooling through air handling unit(s) and/or pumped water circuits. These may include constant volume (CV) systems, variable air volume (VAV) systems, systems using fan coil units (FCUs) or induction units, and systems using active or passive chilled beams.

Individual split systems: in which a single ‘outdoor unit’ containing refrigeration and heat rejection equipment is connected to an individual ‘indoor unit’ delivering cooling. These may also be called ‘split package units’.

Multi-split systems: in which one or more ‘outdoor units’ containing refrigeration and heat rejection equipment are each connected to a number of ‘indoor units’ delivering cooling. These may also be called ‘multi-split package units’, and include variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems. The indoor part of these systems may be called an ‘indoor unit’ or ‘cassette’.

Distributed heat pump systems: in which a series of individual reversible heat pumps in the treated spaces are linked by a common water circuit to a central boiler and to heat rejection plant. Such systems may commonly be called ‘versatemp-type’ systems following the trade name of the original patent holder, but there are other systems that operate to the same principle.

Owners and managers of air-conditioning systems have clear responsibilities to make sure that these inspections are carried out as well as a statutory duty to do so. Penalties for not having an air-conditioning inspection report

The enforcement authority is responsible for enforcing the requirements relating to air-conditioning inspection reports. Failure to commission, keep, or provide an air-conditioning inspection report when required by the Regulations means you may be issued with a penalty charge notice.

The enforcement authority may act on complaints or undertake investigations. They may request you to provide them with a copy of your air-conditioning inspection report. If asked, you must provide this information within seven days of the request or be liable to a penalty charge notice for failing to do so.

A copy of an air-conditioning inspection report can be requested by the enforcement authority at any time up to six months after the last day for compliance with the obligation to make it available.

The penalty for failing to have an air-conditioning inspection report is fixed at present at £300.00