With a ceiling fan, you can lower your energy bill and chill Out

The 1942 film classic Casablanca made ceiling fans famous. Now, almost 60 years later, they’re in the limelight again because they are an energy-efficient way to keep cool in the heat of summer. And these days there’s a modern fan and fan control for every taste.

Ceiling fans can dramatically reduce air-conditioning costs by increasing the speed with which your body loses heat: The greater the air movement, the cooler you’ll feel. A ceiling fan will increase the effect of any air conditioner–even one on a moderate setting–keeping you much cooler.

Summer breeze

Industry experts’ advice: Set your air conditioner to 780, then turn on ceiling fans to increase the chill.

For every degree you raise your thermostat, you’ll reduce your air-conditioning bill by 3 to 5 percent. Thus, if you set your thermostat 6[degrees] higher than usual, you can anticipate a reduction of up to 30 percent in air-conditioning costs.

Add a fan, and although your home won’t be any cooler, you’ll feel cooler due to the air movement.

A ceiling fan running at full speed costs the same as lighting a 100-watt incandescent bulb for the same period.

Central air-conditioning consumes from 50 to 60 times as much electrical energy. Use of ceiling fans alone can produce welcome savings.

Later in the year

Ceiling fans needn’t stop spinning at the end of summer.

Wintertime energy savings are possible by reversing the direction of the fan blades–from counterclockwise to clockwise, when seen from below–to force the air upward.

Moving in this direction and set at low speed, a fan will gently push hot, trapped ceiling air to the walls and down toward the floor, a process called heat reclamation.

Since the air isn’t blown forcefully downward, you won’t feel draftiness or chill. Manufacturers such as Harbor Breeze report savings of up to 10 percent on winter heating bills through heat reclamation.

Size and speed

Choosing a fan that suits the size of the room is important for energy savings and comfort. Fans are measured by blade span, with the 52-inch five-bladed fan being the most common: It is appropriate for rooms up to 400 square feet.

The 44-inch fan will adequately serve rooms up to 225 square feet; the 42-inch works for rooms up to 144 square feet; the 36-inch fan is for rooms of 100 square feet or less.

Fan motors can be set at low, medium, or high speed. The goal is to choose a ceiling fan that will spin at the slowest possible speed to effectively cool or reclaim heat; it should also be quiet. A properly sized fan will be almost noiseless as it slowly churns the room air.


Put ceiling fans in the rooms where your family spends the most time, such as the living rooms and bedrooms. Ceiling fans are often installed in place of conventional light fixtures. This usually places the fan in the center of the room, and the switch wiring that once controlled the ceiling light can now be used for the fan. Some fans include a light unit.

You can choose from a large array of fan/light fixtures, including low-profile rosettes (for low ceilings), bullet spotlights, leaded crystal, and five-arm cluster fixtures that can highlight room features. A fan/light control can be installed in the wall switch box that used to house the light switch. Such controls range from two simple rotary knobs to elegant push-button panels.

Remote controls

Remote controls allow you to manage the fan and light from the comfort of your bed or chair–up to 40 feet away.

Some full-featured remotes automatically increase fan speed as room temperature rises and turn off the fan when the room has cooled. Some high-tech remotes also include programmable timers.

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