A closeup of a dormant ceiling fan

Even though many of us love summer, it brings one huge drawback—the increased use of fans and air conditioning, which results in higher electricity bills. 

If your house is centrally air-conditioned, you perhaps already know that your air conditioner is one of the most energy-consuming appliances in your house. On average, it costs $0.36 to run every hour – which constitutes nearly 25% of all home electricity consumption. 

But what about ceiling fans? Do they actually help in cooling your home and reduce air conditioning costs, or do the latest super-efficient HVAC systems make the use of such fans obsolete?

This article will take a deeper look at what energy-saving ceiling fans are and if they are actually worth your money. 

What are ‘Energy-Saving’ Ceiling Fans?

Ceiling fans attach to the ceiling and work by circulating air in the room, forcing it down. Circulation produces a “wind chill” effect that offers relief through evaporative cooling. Ceiling fans only provide heat relief in the room where they’re installed and if they are permanent installations. 

Ceiling Fan Energy Consumption

The amount of energy a ceiling fan consumes depends on its size. A fan with 36-inch blades or wings consumes nearly 55 watts per hour.

A fan with 48-inch blades or wings uses 75 watts per hour, whereas a fan with a 52-inch blade consumes 90 watts per hour. 

ENERGY STAR® Ceiling Fans

Several energy-efficient ceiling fans are ENERGY STAR®-approved and are designed to meet guidelines laid out by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

To meet these standards, ENERGY STAR® fans use blade designs, motors, and CFL or LED lighting to minimize the watts used when the fans are functioning. 

ENERGY STAR® ceiling fans are nearly 60 percent more energy-efficient than non-ENERGY STAR®-certified fans. So even though they demand a relatively higher initial investment, they are the perfect ceiling fans for people interested in cutting down their energy expenditure. 

Pros of Energy Saving Ceiling Fans 

Here are some of the potential advantages of using ceiling fans:

Less Costly than AC Units

Unlike air conditioners, ceiling fans are quite inexpensive. On average, running a ceiling fan costs nearly one cent per hour, a fraction of the cost of running an air conditioner. 

So yes, ceiling fans are cheaper. But is it fair to compare the cooling these two different appliances offer? Well, the simple answer is no!

Ceiling fans don’t really cool space. Instead, they produce a wind-chill effect that can make the room feel cooler.

They can even reduce humidity, making the room feel even more comfortable without actually decreasing the temperature. 

Can Supplement Air Conditioning 

Ceiling fans can help you save energy costs and enhance comfort if you use them along with an energy-efficient air conditioner. When both your AC and ceiling fans are working, you can dial up the thermostat by 4 degrees without compromising comfort. Consequently, the air conditioner will turn on less frequently, thus reducing your electricity costs. 

Suitable for Winter Weather

If you have ceiling fans equipped with reversible motors, you can save money even during winter.

By just flipping a tiny switch located on the side of the motor housing, you can make your ceiling fan rotate in the opposite, clockwise direction. This reverse motion produces an updraft in the room, circulating the hot air without creating the wind-chill effect. 

A closeup of a ceiling fan's motor
The directional switch of a ceiling fan is typically housed on the exterior of the fan’s motor

More Energy Efficient than AC

Ceiling fans are more efficient than HVAC units. Switching on your fan can make your home feel cooler by nearly 8 degrees, which can reduce the burden on the AC unit and your monthly electricity bill. 

Newer Improved Technology 

Contemporary ceiling fans aren’t the same as those that existed a few decades ago. Instead, today’s fans are equipped with remote control, allowing you to operate them from afar. You will even find LED chips, timers, and sleeker blades. 

Environmentally-Friendly 

You can minimize your dependence on an HVAC system with a ceiling fan. Research shows they can cut down energy consumption by 40 percent in the summer and 10 percent in the winter—a win for Mother Earth!

Moreover, ceiling fans don’t need as much energy as other cooling methods and offer a greener approach to homeownership. According to the US Department of Energy, 75 percent of houses in the US have air conditioners, accounting for almost 6 percent of all energy produced in the country. 

In addition, ceiling fans don’t emit the harmful pollutants and gases that HVAC units possibly can. You can easily add them to existing structures, minimizing your dependence on AC and allowing you to set the thermostat higher. 

By picking a direct current (DC) ceiling fan, you will save even more energy, and it is going to last longer, minimizing the environmental impact of manufacturing a replacement unit.

Additionally, a fan with longer blades will circulate air more efficiently and at reduced engine speeds than a fan with smaller blades.

Cons of Energy Saving Ceiling Fans 

Here are some of the drawbacks of using energy-saving ceiling fans: 

Ceiling Fans Without LED Lights Might Not Be Worth It 

Even though ceiling fans can lower energy consumption in your house, they do need significant power to run. The exact amount depends on usage and the type of lights the fans are equipped with. 

As a matter of fact, depending on the type of light, it can cost you almost 80 percent of the possible savings from a more efficient model. Therefore, opt for ENERGY STAR® LED light fixtures if you wish to get the maximum benefits out of your ceiling fan. 

Difficult to Clean 

Anything that is well out of reach is difficult to clean.

Particularly true of ceiling fan blades, a unique tool (or a particular degree of finesse) is often needed to keep the wings clean. 

You can perhaps use special wands on long poles (such as some vacuum attachments) to simplify the job. 

Nevertheless, those on an incredibly high ceiling might need a ladder and more frequent care than basic lighting fixtures. While ceiling fans are one of the most efficient and effective cooling options, rooms with cathedral ceilings make replacing bulbs and cleaning a big hassle. 

Can Be Dangerous

Finally, it is essential to consider your ceiling’s height and your family members’ heights.

In a room with a low ceiling, anyone over six feet tall or so may be at risk of hitting their heads. When blades are moving at full speed, they can perhaps hit hard enough to result in bleeding.

The likelihood of injury won’t be an issue for shorter people or rooms with high ceilings. However, since the lighting fixture, motor, and blades can make a ceiling fan lower hanging than you might expect, it is undoubtedly something to consider. 

Are Ceiling Fans Worth Your Money?

Let’s do some calculations. An air conditioner costs $0.36 every hour, whereas a ceiling fans only cost $0.01 per hour. So even if AC costs are reduced by a couple of cents, ceiling fans could still be worth your money. 

Ceiling fans, on average, can help save 4 to 8 percent on cooling costs when used alongside an air conditioner. So if you live in a region where you can use ceiling fans instead of air conditioners on significantly hot days, ceiling fans can be a worthy investment. 

However, while ceiling fans offer improved circulation of cool air and produce a wind-chill effect, they can still amount to wasted energy and money if no one is utilizing the advantages.

For instance, do not:

  • Install ceiling fans in rooms not used frequently 
  • Forget to turn off fans if no one is present in the room
  • Switch on fans whenever the lights are turned on, even if a fan isn’t required. 

Tips for More Energy Saving

Proper ceiling fan installation and use are vital parts of attaining energy savings. Use these tips outlined by the US Department of Energy to help keep energy costs as low as possible. 

Pay Attention to Placement and Room Size 

The correct fan placement will help to maximize airflow. Fans need to be installed so their blades aren’t higher than nine feet from the ground but also not closer than eight inches to the ceiling.

If you have a tall ceiling, you can install the fan with an extension rod to reduce the fan’s height.

Secondly, the fan’s diameter must correlate with the room’s square footage. For rooms 225 square feet or smaller, a 44-inch diameter fan will offer effective cooling.

Rooms larger than 225 square feet will need a bigger fan. For rooms measuring over 18 feet in length, more than one fan spaced 6 to 10 feet apart might be required. 

Tip – Note that the number of blades on a ceiling fan doesn’t correlate with how much air it circulates. Instead, focus on the blade’s pitch when making your pick. Blades with a sharper angle will improve air circulation in a room. 

Use the Appropriate Installation Tools and Equipment 

A fan installed with incorrect mounting and electrical equipment works less efficiently and can even lead to safety risks. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for proper fan installation.

A technician standing on a ladder adjusts a ceiling fan

Keep in mind that all outlet boxes are not made for use with ceiling fans. Therefore, cross-check that the outlet box you’re using is suitable for ceiling fan installation. 

Set the Motor to Rotate Counterclockwise

Setting a fan’s motor to rotate counterclockwise will push the air down, producing the wind chill effect and making the space feel cooler. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to determine how to set the motor’s direction. 

Make It Easy to Switch On and Off 

Ceiling fans improve energy efficiency by making people feel cooler, not by cooling the room’s air itself. If you leave a ceiling fan on when no one is in a room, you are just wasting money and energy.

Install remote-controlled or wall-mounted ceiling fan switches with several speed settings to easily manage the indoor temperature and switch off the fan when leaving a room. 

Last Few Words

No one likes to live in an uncomfortable and stuffy living space. Ceiling fans efficiently bring a breeze to the exterior and interior spaces. You will love how comfortable they keep your room, regardless of the season. 

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