Weekend Energy Saver: Save Energy With Ceiling Fans

16 Oct, 2009

[Approx. Read Time: 2 minutes]

green_fanCeiling fans used in addition to your air conditioning can save energy by allowing a higher thermostat temperature setting. In the summer or warmer months, use the ceiling fan in the counterclockwise direction. While standing directly under the ceiling fan you should feel a cool breeze.  Air movement from the fan evaporates moisture on the skin and makes a person feel cooler. Therefore, you can raise the thermostat and feel just as comfortable. For every degree you raise the air conditioning thermostat, you can save approximately 3 % – 5 % in cooling costs. There is no energy savings if you use a ceiling fan and forget to raise the thermostat.

To get the full effect of your ceiling fan, in the winter or cooler months, reverse the motor and operate the ceiling fan in the clockwise direction. This causes the warm air circulating near the ceiling to produces a gentle updraft, forcing the warm air down into the room without blowing any cool air.

How Much Energy Do Ceiling Fans Use?

(Here is some useful information on ceiling fans from Progress Energy)

Fans use no more electricity than light bulbs. Typical wattage for various ceiling fan sizes are:

  • 36″ = 55 watts
  • 48″ = 75 watts
  • 52″ = 90 watts
  • 56″ = 100 watts

For example, a 48″, 75-watt fan used 10 hours a day at half speed or less would cost $.50 to $.90 a month to operate. For a 1,500-square-foot house with air conditioning using two ceiling fans and raising the thermostat setting could save about $70 to $200 over a six-month cooling season.

Effort: Low if already have ceiling fans, Medium to High if installing Ceiling Fans

Time Required: 5 minutes if already have ceiling fans, 2 hours if installing ceiling fans

Materials Needed: Ceiling Fans (preferably Energy Star) and directions and materials that come with it


1) How to select a ceiling fan: Fan sizes typically range from 34″ to 56″ in diameter. The size of the fan depends of the room dimensions.  Below gives a general idea of the size ceiling fan for the size room it is located in.

  • 36″ fan for rooms that measure up to 9′ X 12′
  • 48″ fan for rooms up to 12′ X 15′
  • 56″ fan for rooms larger than 12′ X 15′

2) Installing a ceiling fan: Follow the directions that come with the fan.  The following Do-it-Yourself website is also a helpful tool.

Helpful Reminder:

Adjust your thermostat when you have your ceiling fans running.  For each degree you lower or raise your thermostat (depending on the season and which direction your fan is rotating), you’ll reduce heating or cooling costs 3 % to 5 %.

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