Given our subtropical climate, Tallahassee-area residents love their air conditioning, especially during the heat and humidity of the summer. Although hard to believe, 60 years ago most area homes did not have air conditioning. Whether window units or central AC. Before 1960, most people cooled their homes with open windows, hoped-for wind, and various electric-powered fans.
Ceiling fans, in particular, became quite popular between the 1920s and 1950s. However, by 1960 most homebuilders and existing homeowners tended to opt for air conditioning over ceiling fans when installing new cooling systems, though some opted for both. Today, many homebuilders and home renovators install both. Having both provides the home’s residents with a less-expensive cooling option. This can be especially helpful when air temperatures are more moderate. Many people also believe that using a ceiling fan with their AC helps circulate the air in a way that helps reduce AC energy consumption and save on energy bills.
When Tallahassee-area residents ask the electrical experts at Meeks Electrical Services whether using a ceiling fan in conjunction with their air conditioning saves energy, they are usually surprised by our response. That’s because the answer to that question depends on how you use the two together. The short answer is the only way to save money by using a ceiling fan with the air conditioning is to raise the AC’s temperature. Absent that, your dual operation is actually costing you more money on energy bills.
Blown air from a fan can make you and whatever room you’re in feel cooler. Air conditioning on the other hand is noticeably far cooler. An air conditioner truly cools the air, while a fan just makes you feel cooler. Without getting into the technicalities, air conditioning works by continuously removing warm air from spaces and replacing it with cool air. A ceiling fan or any other fan moves and circulates the air but does not change its temperature. The moving air of a fan just makes you feel cooler. It helps evaporate the sweat on your skin, which in turn helps reduce body heat.
The first step in getting the most cooling by using a ceiling fan and air conditioner in tandem is only to run a fan when you are physically in a room. If you’re not in the room, the fan is not doing much good. You’re just ramping up your power bill. To repeat, always turn the fan off when you leave a room; only run it when someone is in the room.
If you want to save money on your energy bills, consider the second step. When you’re in a room and have turned on the ceiling fan, raise the temperature of your air conditioner’s thermostat. In general, the blown air from a ceiling fan should make you feel physically cooler by about five degrees Fahrenheit. Thus, if 72 degrees represents your happy place when the AC is on, you should be able to raise the thermostat to 77 degrees and not notice much of a difference if the ceiling fan is on.
Because there are variations in ceiling fan blown-air circulations and AC cool air outputs, you may have to play around with the thermostat setting to find the perfect temps. Perhaps you have a weak ceiling fan, in which case you may only be able to raise the thermostat setting by three degrees. Whatever the case, if you consistently follow these rules, you should be able to realize some savings on your energy bills. We’re not talking big-bucks, throw-a-party savings, but with today’s energy costs, every little bit helps.
The heat of summer fast approaches, so If you want to enhance your home’s cooling systems, Tallahassee-based Meeks Electrical Services offers ceiling fan installation and professional wiring for new AC systems, among its many services. For all of your Tallahassee-area residential and business electrical needs, contact Meeks today at (850) 575-3201.