5 Ways Ceiling Fans Can Help Save Money on Your Energy Bill
Ceiling fans are an attractive and economical way to add lighting and better air circulation to your home. For under $200, a ceiling fan is within reach of most budgets, especially if you install it yourself. Moreover, ceiling fans can pay for themselves in energy savings over time. Here are some tips for using them wisely for maximum effectiveness.
1. Use ceiling fans to increase the number of days you keep the windows open. Ceiling fans can help extend the number of days when you can cool your house naturally by opening windows, even in the warmer regions of the country. Often what makes the house feel too warm is the lack of air circulation rather than the temperature. Ceiling fans help move the fresh air from the vicinity of the windows around the whole room.
Also, nights and early mornings can cool down 5-15 degrees on average. Even if you keep the air conditioning on during the day, try turning it off at bedtime, opening the windows, and sleeping under a ceiling fan on high speed. Close the bedroom door, and keep the windows in the rest of the house closed to keep the cooled air in for as long as possible in the rooms you aren’t using. Unless temperatures or humidity are really high, you’ll probably be quite comfortable sleeping under a ceiling fan. In the morning, close your bedroom windows and turn the air conditioning back on for the day.
2. Use ceiling fans to maximize the benefits of your air conditioning. At their normal setting, ceiling fans circulate the cooler air in the room. Temperature alone isn’t what makes people feel cooler; it’s the feeling of air moving over the skin and evaporating sweat. With a fan on medium or high to keep the air moving in a room, you can set your air conditioner several degrees higher and still feel cool. Over the course of weeks or months of summer weather, this will add up to significant savings.
3. Use ceiling fans to maximize the benefits of your heating. Many people run their ceiling fans all winter, having heard that it helps with heating bills. However, if you simply have the fans on as they are in summer, you could be increasing your heating bill. Remember that moving air makes you feel cooler. In wintertime, that feels like a draft, and the impulse is to push the thermostat a bit higher.
Check your ceiling fans for a reverse switch, located somewhere on the base of the fan, or sometimes on a remote control. When you begin using heat in your home, turn the switches of all your fans to the reverse position. This makes the fan circulate air in the opposite direction. Instead of swirling cooler air up and out through the room, it pulls the warmer air from near the ceiling and pushes it back down to the rest of the room. Keep the fan on low speed to move the air without creating too much cooling effect. You should be able to keep your thermostat 3-5 degrees lower using this method. Note that not all fans have a reverse switch, so if you’re shopping for a new fan, look for one that has a reverse setting if you plan to use it during winter.
4. Use ceiling fans for quick cooling when you’re overheated. When you come in from doing yard work or exercise in the summertime, feeling hot and sweaty, it’s tempting to turn your air conditioner’s temperature several degrees lower “just for a few minutes” to cool off. Even if you do remember to readjust it in a short while, creating that burst of cooling is an expensive drain on your air conditioner. A better approach is to get under a ceiling fan and turn it to the highest speed. Take off as much clothing as is comfortable for you and sit or lay under the fan. The rapidly moving air will quickly evaporate the sweat on your body and make you feel much cooler. In fact, in a few minutes, you’ll likely feel a bit chilly and ready to turn the fan down.
5. Use ceiling fans only when someone is in a room. Just as your parents told you to turn off the lights when you leave a room, get in the habit of turning off ceiling fans when you leave a room, or leave the house. The cooling effect of the fans is subjective – you’ll feel cooler when the air is moving across your skin. The fan has no effect on the actual temperature in the house, so if no one is under the fan to feel the effect of it, it’s wasted. When choosing a new ceiling fan, it may be helpful to look for one that you can connect to a wall switch or operate by remote control rather than pull chains, to help you form the habit of turning it off when you leave the room.
Depending on the style you choose, ceiling fans add a touch of old-fashioned grace or sleek high-tech to your decor. No matter what the fan looks like, however, it can add an inexpensive way to tweak your home’s heating and cooling to gain comfort while keeping a more economical thermostat setting. If you already have ceiling fans in your home, use them correctly to maximize their benefit. If you don’t have ceiling fans, consider adding them, at least to the bedrooms and rooms you spend the most time in.