A typical central air conditioning unit uses 3,500 watts of energy when running. A typical ceiling fan uses 60 watts of energy, even when running on high. Thus, if you ran your ceiling fan all day and it managed to decrease your home air conditioner use by just thirty minutes in a twenty four hour period, you’ll end up saving significant money over the long run with a ceiling fan.
Of course, you can save a lot more energy if you do some careful planning and tinkering when it comes to ceiling fan use. Here are some tactics to try.
Set your home’s temperature higher in the summer If you’re going to run ceiling fans constantly in your home on a hot day, raise the temperature on your thermostat by a few degrees. Your ceiling fan doesn’t directly cool the air by itself, but what it does do is circulate air, creating a breeze effect that makes the room feel cooler than it actually is. Thus, accompany ceiling fan use with a rise in thermostat temperature and your central air conditioning unit will run less, but you’ll feel just as cool. I recommend trying a four degree increase if fans run on high as compared to the fans not running at all.
Run the fan on high in one direction (usually counterclockwise) in the summer Most fans have a “clockwise” setting and a “counterclockwise” setting, each appropriate for a different season. Stand beneath the fan and turn it on. If you immediately feel a breeze from the fan, then it’s set on the “summer” setting, usually counterclockwise. Otherwise, turn off the fan, climb up near the base of the fan, and look for a little button or switch that sets the fan to run in the opposite direction. During the summer, you should have your ceiling fans running on high with the air blowing down directly below the fan. This creates the most air movement in the center of the room, which is where you need it most for the “breeze” effect, which will feel cool on your skin.
Run the fan on low in the other direction (usually clockwise) on low in the winter In the winter, however, your fan should be running in the opposite direction (again, just flip the switch or push the button near the base of the fan). Blades running in this direction will pull air up in the center of the room and push it down again near the edges. This forces warm air and cool air to mix in the room, keeping the room at a steadier temperature (not allowing heat to build up at the top and coolness to settle on the floor) and making your heating unit not have to work quite as hard to keep the house warm. You’ll feel this effect if you stand near the wall in a room – a gentle, warm breeze will blow over you.
When you buy and install a new ceiling fan, keep these tips in mind Almost any home can be made more energy efficient by installing a ceiling fan. Here are a few suggestions for shopping for a new fan.
Basic physics – if your fan’s blade angle is less than twelve degrees, it’s a waste of energy Ideally, you want the blade to push air upwards or downwards. If your blades are at a low angle (meaning nearly flat), they won’t do either – instead, they’ll have much the same effect as an airplane wing. They’ll just cut through the air without pushing the air at all. The very first thing you should look at with a new ceiling fan is the blade angle. If the angle is below 12 degrees, the fan will be largely decorative and will just eat energy without significant air movement. 12 degrees should be the minimum angle you purchase, and ideally you’ll buy one with a higher degree angle. Blades with a 16 degree angle or above push a lot of air, feeling much like a box fan attached to your ceiling, and that might be overwhelming in some situations. Get a fan with blades between 12 and 14 degrees in a room where you might have papers out, etc., but in general use rooms, get a fan with blades having a 14 degree angle or above.
Unless your room is very well lit, go ahead and get the light assembly, too You might not think it’s necessary now, but if you’re installing the fan in a room without perfect lighting – or are replacing a light fixture with a ceiling fan – you’re going to want more lighting in the room. If in doubt, get the light assembly right now – it’ll save you consternation and money later on.
Install it yourself – it’s not that scary Many people blow the process of installing a ceiling fan out of proportion in their minds and just hire someone to install it. Don’t – installing a ceiling fan really isn’t that hard. Here’s a very humorous but informative guide on installing a ceiling fan and a video produced by Home Depot on how to replace a ceiling fan (useful even if you’re not replacing one, just installing a new one). Don’t pay the fee to have someone else do it – this is a perfect small home improvement project that anyone can tackle themselves.
All of these tactics can save you significant money on your heating and cooling bills. A ceiling fan can be a great investment, particularly if you live in an area where the temperature is frequently far too warm or too cold to open the windows on a regular basis, even for just a few months out of the year. Ceiling fans, when used properly, can be a massive energy savings.