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Can Using Ceiling Fans Really Reduce Your Cooling Costs?

Ceiling fans are often advertised as a means of saving you energy, but it depends on the efficiency of the fan itself and how it is used.

A ceiling fan doesn’t actually cool the air in your home – it can only circulate it.  It makes you feel cooler during warmer months because the air blowing across your skin evaporates moisture, making you feel cooler. During the colder months a ceiling fan will help circulate the warm air closer to the living space in larger rooms.

Ceiling fans have the potential to save energy in a few ways:

  • If you use ceiling fans instead of your air conditioning on spring/fall days when the weather is just warming up, it will use less energy than running your air conditioner.
  • At the same time, if you’re using the fans while also setting the thermostat a few degrees warmer, you’re possibly saving money, depending on things like how many degrees, how many fans are operating, and how efficient the fans are.
  • Remember to turn off the fans when there is nobody in the room. Because fans don’t cool the air, but actually add some heat with the energy they’re using, it will defeat the purpose of using the fan if it’s running in empty rooms.

The important point to keep in mind is that in order to realize the benefits of ceiling fans, you must be turning down the thermostat in winter and turning it up in the summer by at least several degrees. And, as noted above, only use fans in rooms that are occupied.

As with choosing an air conditioner or furnace, ceiling fans are also Energy Star Rated. By choosing a more energy efficient model you can save as much as 50% over non-qualifying models.

Besides ceiling fans, here are some other tips for saving money on heating and cooling your home:

  1. Use a programmable thermostat – The ability to change the temperature in your home when you’re away or while sleeping can make a big difference in your energy usage.  The government estimates as much as $180 in energy costs (enough to buy some ceiling fans!).  Newer thermostats are simple to program and many come pre-programmed to energy star guidelines!
  2. Have your air conditioner and furnace cleaned and maintained –  Regular maintenance of your heating and cooling system will ensure the burners are working efficiently, the A/C coils are clean and the refrigerant charge is correct.  Improper refrigerant charge can make your equipment work harder (using more energy) and shorten its life.
  3. Change your furnace air filter – a clogged furnace filter will make your heating system’s blower work much harder than it needs to and might even cause your coil to freeze up when your A/C is running.  Standard 1″ filters should be changed every month when your equipment is running continuously.
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