Ceiling Fan Facts:
The amount of money you can save with a ceiling fan depends on numerous factors, including the size of your home, your climate, your primary heating and cooling systems and the cost of electricity in your area. Nevertheless, various organizations have published estimates that you can use as guidelines. For example, the University of Florida Cooperative Extension reports that a ceiling fan can reduce one room’s cooling costs by as much as 8 percent.
Ceiling Fans in Summer
Most people are aware that a ceiling fan can make a room more comfortable in warm weather, but a few details are often overlooked. A ceiling fan does not actually reduce the temperature of a room. Rather, the fan creates gentle air movement that allows people in the room to feel cooler and more comfortable. This means that a ceiling fan provides little or no benefit when the room is unoccupied. Also, you should locate the fan so that you regularly feel its breeze. The fan will be less effective if it is installed in an unused part of a room or is attached to a very high ceiling.
Ceiling Fans in Winter
Experts disagree about the benefits of operating ceiling fans during the colder months. Some fans are designed for both counterclockwise rotation (“forward mode”) and clockwise rotation (“reverse mode”). In reverse mode, air is forced up toward the ceiling. In theory, this warms the room by circulating warm air near the ceiling down toward the floor, and if the fan is on low speed, it will not create an uncomfortable breeze. This technique should be helpful in certain situations, such as when a room with a very high ceiling is heated by a wood stove. In other circumstances, the energy savings may be insignificant. The Kansas State University Extension discourages any use of ceiling fans during winter, but the University of Arkansas reports that a ceiling fan may reduce heating costs by 20 percent to 30 percent.
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