JUNE 2009: Ceiling Fans Save Energy All Year Long

Oct 28th 2015 Staff

Gas and energy prices are rising again, and that means Americans must tighten their belts even further. You don't need to dread hot summer temps and high air conditioning bills when you have ceiling fans - your AC's best friend!

If you already have fans in place, check to see whether they are Energy Star qualified. Ceiling fan/light combinations that have earned Energy Star® accreditation are about 50 percent more efficient than non-conforming units. The difference lies in improved motors and blade designs. A model with an Energy Star light kit included provides even greater energy savings, and the bulbs don't need to be changed as often.

"Consumer demand for more energy-efficient products has driven the industry to integrate new lighting, blade and motor technologies that save operating costs. New products integrating the latest technologies are up to 75 percent more efficient than previous models" states Steve Cox, vice president/general manager of Emerson Ceiling Fans.

Paul Vrabel, a principal at ICF International, an energy solutions firm that partners with government clients, explains how to operate fans correctly. "Put them on when you are in the room - during the day and when sleeping - and turn them off when you leave. Ceiling fans cool people, not air," he remarks. "Using fans wisely while turning down the AC can save a lot of money."

Ceiling fans do such an efficient job of circulating air, they probably should be everywhere. "Any type of room can benefit," notes Nathan Frampton, president of ceiling fan company Fanimation. "Bedrooms, family rooms, and exterior living spaces are the most common applications, but we are seeing [them used] more in larger bathrooms, walk-in closets, home offices and garages," he adds.

Size Matters

Dennis Davenport, vice president/product development for Monte Carlo Fans, concurs. "Consumers are installing ceiling fans throughout their homes," he notes, pointing to the rapid growth of models in all sizes. For example, fans with blade spans of 54, 60, and 72 inches are increasingly popular for living rooms, while those with 24-inch spans are being installed in hallways and walk-in closets," he says.

How do you estimate the best size for your needs? "A good rule of thumb is a 36- to 52-inch diameter blade sweep for rooms measuring 200 square feet or less," Frampton states. "For rooms 200 to 400 square feet, we recommend a diameter of 52 inches or greater; if the space is more than 400 square feet, two or more fans will be needed."

The number of blades makes some difference in airflow, however, whether to choose a four-, five-, or six-blade version is really a matter of aesthetics, according to Frampton. "You hear a lot about blade pitch, diameter and motor size. These are factors that will affect airflow, but in the end the best way to judge is to stand under the fan you prefer and decided if the airflow feels sufficient," he says.

It's important not to underestimate. "The most common size sold in the U.S. is a 52-inch diameter. This fan size provides excellent results in rooms up to 150 square feet, but can also be appropriate for smaller rooms since it can be adjusted with multiple speeds and the direction of the blades can be reversed," notes Joe Rey-Barreau, education consultant for the American Lighting Association (ALA) and an associate professor at the University of Kentucky's School of Interior Design. "It's better to choose a slightly larger fan for a room than to choose a diameter that might prove to be too small to adequately provide air movement," he adds.

Do You Need a Light Kit?

Many fans now come with integrated lighting or offer a coordinating light kit available as an option. These lights do not offer enough illumination on their own, but they are useful in a room that already has some form of ambient lighting. "Ceiling fan lights should be considered as accent and mood lighting," Davenport explains.

Should a Ceiling Fan Blend In or Stand Out?

The next step to consider is whether you'd like it to serve as a focal point or be more understated. "Is the room contemporary, traditional, tropical or transitional? Ceiling fans can serve as a design feature," Frampton remarks.

"The primary trend in ceiling fan design has been for styles that create aesthetic statements as bold as a chandelier," Rey-Barreau states. "This follows the overall trend in residential design for more varied and more sophisticated concepts. Today a consumer can find a ceiling fan that matches any interior design."

Fans Help in Winter, Too

In the summer, ceiling fans offer a comfortable alternative and accompaniment to air conditioning, but in the winter employing the reversible blade option provides a means of circulating the hotter air that rises to the ceiling. This helps save on heating bills when the weather gets cold.

For more information about how to utilize ceiling fans for year-round comfort in a fashionable style, visit a Hortons Home Lighting showroom with trained lighting and ceiling fan professionals on staff and more variety than home centers.

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