In the past, prior to the widespread use of air conditioning, ceiling fans were the primary source of cooling for many residences. As air conditioning became more available and affordable, the use of ceiling fans declined. Due to rising energy costs and increasing customer conservation awareness, ceiling fan use is now on the upswing. Ceiling fans are available in a wide variety of styles, and can enhance the room decor.
Ceiling fans are an excellent way to help keep energy costs down while maintaining occupant comfort levels. Ceiling fan operation during the cooling season can help keep room occupants cool due to the "wind chill" effect. This effect is caused by the evaporation of moisture on the surface of the skin due to the movement of air, resulting in the person feeling cooler.
Fans can also be used in conjunction with air conditioning to help reduce energy costs. The "wind chill" effect allows the air conditioner to be used less while maintaining the same degree of comfort for room occupants. For example, you can move the summer setting on your thermostat from 26¡ã to 27¡ã C (78¡ã to 80¡ã F) and still keep the occupants comfortable. This increase in thermostat setting of -17¡ã C (2¡ã F) can result in a reduction of 15% in air conditioning energy use, and a significant savings on your summer electric bill.
Ceiling fans can also help keep occupants comfortable and save energy in the winter heating season. These fans pull the heated air that has risen to the ceiling and redirect it to the occupant levels. This results in a more effective use of the heating system and lower energy consumption. Fans used during the winter should be operated at low speeds, allowing the air to gently circulate without causing a "wind chill" effect.
Most ceiling fans are designed to be reversible for winter operation. In this mode, room air is pulled from floor level, circulated through the warmer air near the ceiling, and circulated back to the floor level. This mode of operation allows the warmer ceiling air to be directed downward without blowing directly on the occupants. Care should be taken to ensure that the direction of airflow for these reversible fans is downward in summer and upward in the winter for maximum effectiveness.
Ceiling fans are economical to operate as they consume very little energy. For example, a typical fan operating at high speed uses approximately 150 watts of power. Assuming that the fan is operated 10 hours per day with an energy cost of 6 cents per kWh, the cost of operation will be 9 cents per day. At lower speeds this operating cost will be even less. This low operating cost and the potential reduction in cooling and heating cost make the ceiling fan one of the best energy-saving devices on the market.