Fans are one of the oldest and most reliable mechanical means of cooling a home, and they use far less energy than air conditioners. In fact, you probably could run several fans and still consume a smaller amount of energy than you would by running a single room air conditioner.
Here are some things to help you stay comfortable and hold down cooling costs this summer.
- A ceiling fan will allow you to be comfortable at a higher temperature in occupied rooms and let you raise the thermostat in those areas. A good ceiling fan should create enough air movement that you will be comfortable at 82 degrees and 80 percent relative humidity. If you’re using the fan to supplement or circulate air-conditioning, you should be able to raise the thermostat a full 4 degrees above the standard 78-degree setting and still be comfortable.
- Use window fans to create cross-ventilation on warm, still days. Open windows on the shady side of your house and position the fans so they blow air out of windows on the hot side of the house. The resulting pressure difference will cause air from the outside to flow through your house.
- Since fans create a cooling effect by moving air across your skin, opening the windows and using one or more fans during very hot and humid weather won’t be an effective cooling strategy – especially if you’re accustomed to using an air conditioner most of the time. In fact, your cooling costs will increase significantly, because opening the windows will increase the humidity your air-conditioning unit needs to remove, forcing the system to run longer than normal.
- On a cool, low-humidity night, a whole-house fan can cut the temperature in your home in a relatively short time. A whole-house fan can reduce your home’s indoor temperature by up to 20 degrees, depending on the temperature outside. This type of fan usually is installed in a hallway ceiling on the top floor of your house. It works by pulling the cool outside air from open windows on the lowest living level of the house into the attic, where warm air is vented to the outside.
- A small fan is not adequate for cooling large areas. An oscillating fan, box fan or table fan is a good choice for one person, circulating the air in a small room or extending the cooling range of a window- or wall-mounted air conditioner.
- Choose the correct ceiling fan for damp or wet areas. For a bathroom, buy an Energy Star® qualified, U.L. listed fan with a damp rating. For a location where a fan might come into direct contact with water – such as a porch – select a fan with a wet rating.