Myth: Ceiling fans help lower your home’s temperature so you should keep them on 24/7, even in unoccupied rooms.
Fact: Running ceiling fans in unoccupied rooms doesn’t lower your home’s temperature and wastes $165 every summer.
Note: We followed the steps at Energy.gov to calculate the electricity cost to run 6 ceiling fans 24/7 during the summer (120 days).
Surprised? Don’t worry, the good news is that once you understand how ceiling fans work, you can use them to actually save you money on energy bills.
In this article, we’ll show you exactly how ceiling fans work and how to use them to your advantage.
Ceiling fans cool people, not rooms
You may think your ceiling fan is cooling your room, but actually it’s just cooling you off.
You see, ceiling fans don’t actually make closed rooms cooler. In fact, if anything, they actually heat the air a little bit. Since fans require electricity, and electricity generates heat, leaving a fan on for a long period of time could actually raise the temperature of a closed room (see this infrared photo of a ceiling fan).
In fact, if your home had 7 (60-watt) ceiling fans, and you left them on for 24 hours, the accumulated heat from the fan motors would be comparable to running a 1,000-watt hair dryer in your home for 10 hours straight.
So, why does a ceiling fan make us feel cooler?
The answer is kind of gross, but it’s because humans sweat. Our bodies naturally cool off when our sweat evaporates. And when a fan quickly blows air over those little beads of water, it actually increases the rate at which that water evaporates. The more our sweat evaporates, the cooler we feel.
So a fan may not actually lower the temperature in a room, but it moves air across our sweating skin which makes us feel cooler.
Now that you know a ceiling fan really works, let’s look at some ceiling fan Do’s and Don’ts…
Tips on using ceiling fans correctly
$165 is a lot of money to spend on fans—especially when they’re not even cooling your home! Here are some don’ts and do’s to cut back the cost of using ceiling fans in the summer:
- Use all of your fans at once. Only use ceiling fans when you’re actually in the room (remember, ceiling fans don’t lower a room’s temperature, they only cool you down).
- Leave your ceiling fans on 24/7. If you leave the house or leave a room, make sure to turn off the fan.
- Use a ceiling fan when you’re in the room: Like we explained above, ceiling fans work great when you’re actually in the room. You’ll feel cooler, plus, you can actually raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort—which means you’ll save money on cooling costs.
- Let your AC do the cooling work: Your air conditioning system is what actually cools your home and keeps those indoor temperatures low. Ceiling fans are great to use with your AC on those super hot days when you want to stay cool and turn up your thermostat a few degrees, but don’t rely on fans as your primary cooling device.
What’s the best way to stay cool? A working AC…
The best way to stay cool in the summer is to have a working air conditioner. If your AC is on the fritz, or it isn’t cooling your home properly, give Santa Fe Air a call. We’d be happy to take a look at your system and get it running smoothly again.
Schedule an AC repair with us—we’ve been helping families in the Kansas City metro area stay cool since 1987.