Ceiling Fans And Your A/C: Use Them Together, And The Savings Are Better
This summer, use ceiling fans to help you keep your cool — and your money.
For an old invention, ceiling fans are a rather “green” technology. For one thing, they use very little electricity. When used together with an air-conditioning system, though, they can actually save energy.
How is this possible? To explain, you have to understand a little bit about what ceiling fans do. Obviously, they circulate the air, creating an indoor wind. But the air is not actually any cooler than it was before, at least as measured by a thermometer. The air simply feels cooler to any humans in the room, because we are warm-blooded creatures that are constantly getting rid of heat through our skin. With a breeze blowing, our skin gets a constant supply of fresh cool air, which allows it to get rid of heat faster.
The resulting difference between the actual air temperature and the temperature that we feel is what weathermen call the wind-chill effect. The wind-chill effect grows as the actual temperature decreases, which is why ceiling fans and air conditioners work so well together: The cooler air means there is a bigger wind-chill effect from the fan. In most situations, the wind-chill effect from an A/C-assisted fan is worth about 4 degrees.
Since you feel 4 degrees cooler, you can now set the thermostat 4 degrees warmer without noticing any change in temperature. That is where the energy savings come in: Raising the thermostat by 4 degrees makes your A/C’s job much easier. If your A/C was providing 20 degrees of cooling, now it only has to provide 16 degrees. That is a 20 percent reduction, but since each additional degree of cooling becomes harder to produce, it would actually save you more than 20 percent on your A/C bills. It will also save wear and tear on your A/C system, and reduce your repair expenses in the long run.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Orlando, Florida and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about ceiling fans and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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