Is Using Fans Energy Efficient or a Waste of Energy?
Maybe you’re trying to cut back on the energy usage at your house…smart idea! Turning the thermostat up just one degree during warmer months can save up to 3% on energy costs. Imagine how much more you could save if you implemented alternative cooling methods!
Ceiling fans are – by and large – very energy efficient. Most fans outweigh their own energy usage by offsetting some HVAC use, depending on the operation. As a general rule, the newer the fan, the more energy efficient.
Remember, fans don’t cool down a room, they cool down people. They’re actually designed to blow air onto the skin, creating a wind-chill effect that gives people a feeling of lower temperature. Fans work best in rooms where the ceiling is at least eight feet high.
Larger fan blades do a more energy efficient job of cooling than smaller blades. They require lower velocity (i.e. can run on slower settings) and still provide the same cooling effect as smaller, faster fans. This requires less energy. It provides the added benefit of keeping papers and other materials from blowing around!
The Department of Energy says that a functional ceiling fan can make up for 4 degrees in temperature change. That means that an energy efficient fan set on high allows you to feel the same way in a 76 degree room that you otherwise would if the room were set at 72 degrees.
How can you be sure your fan is energy efficient? Step one is, of course, choosing the right fan. Look for an Energy Star rated model; these tend to be up to 20% more energy efficient than comparable fans. Next, be sure the blades of your fan are rotating in the right direction. (In summer, blades should rotate counterclockwise to push air towards the ground!) Lastly, don’t leave fans on if the room is empty! They’re not cooling the air, so if no one is in the room to feel the cooling effect you’re simply wasting energy.