It’s the middle of summer, so you’re probably dealing with the skyrocketing temperatures by cranking your AC, right? If you’re not using a ceiling or room fan in conjunction with your central air conditioning system, you’re losing money and wasting energy. Here’s why.
As wonderful as it feels to bask in that cold air, it costs you a lot of money. Did you know that this is especially true if you’re not using a ceiling or room fan in conjunction with your air conditioning system? Here’s why.
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AC makes up a big chunk of your utility bills
Air conditioners use more energy than any other household appliance. According to SFGate, during the hot summer months, one-quarter of the utility bill is spent on AC—so much so that in the US, air conditioning alone consumes 5 percent of all electricity generated, costing American homeowners $11 billion per year.
They run on a set cycle
Air conditioners are lifesavers for making our homes more comfortable in warm months, since they do more than just cool the air—they dehumidify it, too. But they also have a couple of drawbacks, apart from the expense of operating them. First, most AC systems are set up to cool an entire home (or an entire floor, if you have a zoned system). But usually, only a couple of rooms in a home are occupied at any given time. As a result, you end up wasting money and energy to cool the rooms that you’re not using.
Second, once an AC system reaches its set temperature, it shuts off. But—especially when the humidity is high—you may start to feel sticky within minutes of the AC turning off. That’s when you’ll feel tempted to turn the AC lower so it will kick on again. But no matter how low you turn it, the AC will turn off once it has reached its set point.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the greater the difference between the outdoor temperature and the indoor temperature, the harder your AC unit will work. If it’s 90 degrees outside and you set your thermostat to 78 degrees, you’ll consume much more energy than if your thermostat is set to 85.
How fans can help
The benefit of a fan is that it keeps air circulating, regardless of the temperature. And it’s the sensation of air moving across your skin that actually makes you feel cool—and allows you to set your thermostat higher than you might without the fan. In fact, some homeowners find that once the air has been cooled, using a fan to circulate it is actually more pleasing than simply sitting in a chilly space. Though ceiling fans create a pleasant breeze from above—which is nice when you’re lying in bed or cooking in the kitchen—room fans work just as well in an office or if you’re sitting in your living room and just want to feel cool.
To install a ceiling fan, you’ll need at least an eight-foot-high ceiling, with blades that are somewhere between seven and nine feet above the floor and 10-12 inches below the ceiling, notes the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. You might require an electrician to install a ceiling fan, as well. Room fans are inexpensive and portable, so you can plug them in wherever there is an existing socket, and easily move them from room to room.
If you’re in the market for a new HVAC system, aim for the most energy-efficient model you can afford to do the best job for your home. But don’t ignore the benefits that using room and ceiling fans can have to keep you comfortable and reduce your energy bills, too.
What are your best energy-saving tips for keeping cool in the summer? Share with us in the comments below!