How to

Using ceiling fans to save on energy

By George Garza
Info Guru,

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Save electricity and stay comfortable year round with a ceiling fan
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Many a Hollywood movie relies on the atmosphere created by a ceiling fan. It can add a special sense of nostalgia to a room. But romance and nostalgia aside, it can also be an important energy saver in your home. But what are the key points to remember when selecting and using ceiling fans for energy savings instead of romance and ambiance?

How Ceiling Fans Save Energy Fans can be used to supplement air conditioning and save energy by allowing a higher thermostat to be set. This occurs when the air movement from the fan evaporates moisture on the skin and makes a person feel cooler. With this cooling effect, you can raise the thermostat three to four degrees and feel just as comfortable.

What this means in dollars and cents is that you can garner a savings of about 25% on your cooling costs. Translation: for every degree you raise the air conditioning thermostat, you can save anywhere from 7 percent to 10 percent on your cooling costs. But having said that, there will be no energy savings if you use a ceiling fan but subsequently do not raise the air conditioning thermostat. Some people do miss this point, then wonder why their bills have not dropped!

How to Select a Ceiling Fan If you are serious about saving energy it is important that you get the right size fan. One that is too small will not move enough air; one that is too large will be an energy burden on its own. A workable fan depends on the room where it will be used.

A fan size will commonly range from 34" to 56" in diameter. The best size for you will depend upon the room where the fan will be installed. Generally, a 36" fan is suitable for rooms that measure up to 9' X 12'. A 48" fan is practical for rooms up to 12' X 15', and a 56" fan suits rooms larger than 12' X 15'. A long and narrow room may require two fans for effective air circulation.

Reversible Ceiling Fans The idea behind using a reversible ceiling fan takes into account the scientific phenomenon involving heat. Heat rises. So, reversible ceiling fans can be promoted as a way to save on heating costs during the winter. They work in the opposite manner as summer fans. The summer fans pulls hot air up from the room; but a reversible fan pushes hot air down.

This alone produces air movement that could create a chilling effect. So you'll not feel any warmer. But savings can be accomplished if you adjust your thermostat in addition to reversing your fan. For each degree you lower your thermostat, you'll reduce heating costs from 6 percent to 9 percent.

Energy and Operation Costs Fans use no more electricity than light bulbs. Typical wattages for various ceiling fan sizes are:
  • 36" = 55 watts
  • 48" = 75 watts
  • 52" = 90 watts
  • 56" = 100 watts
For example, a 48", 75-watt fan used 10 hours a day at half speed or less would cost $.75 a month to operate. For a 1,500-square-foot house with air conditioning using two ceiling fans and raising the thermostat setting could save about $70 to $150 over a six-month cooling season.

Fan Prices Typical ceiling fans can cost anywhere from $50 to $100 range. If you are conscientious, you can recover your investment in a fan through the energy savings you achieve with a higher thermostat setting. The more a fan costs, the longer it takes to recover your investment.

Portable Fans Portable fans save energy too. In the spring and fall when the night is cool, use a portable fan in your window to blow cool air into your house either late at night or early in the morning. And if you add a fan to an opposite window and placed near the ceiling to push air out, you will have a nice cooling draft.

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