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Stay Cool & Save With Fans

Fan Facts

Fans can be an easy, cost-efficient way to lower cooling bills. While A/C units pump in cold air throughout your entire home, fans cool you directly. So if you’re spending time in only a few rooms, fans are an ideal choice to supplement, or perhaps replace, A/C.

Efficient by Design

A fan’s design can affect its energy efficiency. Fans enclosed in shrouds or casings can have more airflow than comparable fans covered by wire frames. Fans with power or speed controls allow you to adjust their airflow, making them more flexible for different spaces throughout your home. Is the fan easy to wipe down? Keep it clean to maintain air quality.


Ceiling Fans: Top Savings

Usually, the most energy efficient type of fan is ceiling mounted. These are best at creating a draft throughout the entire room. Fans let you increase the thermostat by 4°F, while maintaining the same comfort level, so you can use your A/C less often or even forego it completely.1 Ceiling fans should be used in rooms with at least an 8 foot high ceiling, with blades from 7 to 9 feet above the floor and 10 to 12 inches below the ceiling. Larger blades allow the fan to run at lower velocities, while providing the same cooling benefits of fans with smaller blades. This may be important in home offices, to prevent loose papers from blowing around.

Ceiling Fan Sizing2
Area Cooled* Fan Size Other Info
4-6 Square Feet Small to Medium (36- to 44-inch diameter) Cools Spaces 225 Square Feet
Up to 10 Square Feet Large (52 in. diameter)  

*For rooms longer than 18 feet, use multiple fans.

Cool & Quiet

The newest technology in portable fans uses an enclosed blower and an airfoil- shaped outlet to magnify airflow without traditional exposed fan blades. This design allows for a safe, powerful air flow with minimal noise. Before purchasing a portable fan, be sure to check its sound rating or see the actual fan in use so as to make sure the model is quiet enough for you.


Double Up: Fans & AC

Fans are important supplements to A/C. The convective air movement cools people, not the room (with the exception of window fans). Be sure to turn fans off when you leave the room.

You can stay cool and save energy by using portable or ceiling fans first before  turning on the A/C. Window fans are also good at blowing cool morning or evening air into buildings. Portable fans are much smaller investments than A/C— both in purchase price and energy consumption over time.

When purchasing a new ceiling fan, look for the ENERGY STAR® label — this tells you it will typically use anywhere from 20% to 50% less energy than a standard ceiling fan.3


Size (& Place) Matters

The main types of portable fans are table, floor, and window. A small table fan  can provide on-the-spot cooling, while a larger fan  can — if placed in or near a window or on the floor in the cooler side of your home —  increase cross ventilation; depending the design and layout of your home or apartment. Using 2 window fans can be better than just 1. Use the first fan to pull cool air in through a lower floor window, and the other to blow warm air out through an upper floor window.

Use & Care

Proper maintenance, placement and installation of your home’s fans will maximize efficiency measures. Learn more about Fan Use & Care, where to start, and how to care for portable and installed fans for the most savings. Return to Heating and Cooling.

1U.S. Department of Energy. (2012). Energy Saver: Fans for Cooling. Retrieved September 28, 2012, from energy.gov
2U.S. Department of Energy. (2012). Energy Saver: Fans for Cooling. Retrieved September 7, 2012, from energy.gov
3Yardi, Ramola, Wang, K., Smith, A. (2004). Home Energy Briefs: #3 Space Cooling. Snowmass: Rocky Mountain Institute. Retrieved September 28, 2012 from http://www.rmi.org/rmi/pid217 (p. 2).

This program is funded by California utility customers and administered by Southern California Edison under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission.

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