Summer Energy Savings: Use Ceiling Fans or Raise the Thermostat?


Summertime brings hot days and higher energy bills for most home owners. The electricity used to run air conditioners in our homes consumes up to 15 percent of all the energy used in the home, according to the U. S. Energy Department. In hotter parts of the country, an A/C unit consumes much more to cool the house. There is no doubt that air conditioning contributes greatly to Home Energy Costs.

Some homeowners think the only solution for reducing air conditioner energy use is to raise the temperature setting on their thermostats and live with a warmer indoor climate. Though that does save some money on electric bills, it is not the most effective answer. Consider this information from the New York Times. Central A/C units use around three kilowatts of energy per hour. Window units use 1.2 kilowatts per hour. Ceiling fans, however, only use a scant 30 watts of energy per hour. Think of the energy savings to be gained from using ceiling fans to cool the home.

Now look at the cost of that energy use. Central A/C units cost approximately 36¢ per hour to run, based on their energy use. Window units cost 14¢ per hour. Ceiling fans, however, use only one penny per hour. That means that central air conditioning costs the homeowner around $130 per month and window A/C costs $50 monthly, but ceiling fans only cost a little over a dollar a month. With no A/C money saving decreases in energy use are immense when you switch to ceiling fans to cool your home.

The best use of ceiling fans for cost saving and a cool interior environment are achieved when you use them with your air conditioning unit. When you turn on ceiling fans with your A/C, you are able to raise your thermostat settings from four to 12 degrees. Used in tandem, ceiling fans and air conditioners offer double savings on energy costs. Just remember to turn the fan off when leaving a room. It does not work by cooling the room it circulates in, but by creating air flow that triggers evaporation from your skin to cool you by as much as five degrees.

Installing and using ceiling fans is a great way to begin a Summer Energy Savings Plan. There are many other ideas for saving energy you can implement at home to reduce the cost of electricity during the summer months. Water heaters can be set down to 120° to reduce energy use. Turn faucets to their cold position when not in use, so when turned on for small amounts of water they do not draw from the tank. The average shower can use up to ten gallons of hot water so take shorter showers.

See if your local electric company has a voluntary program whereby you get energy credits on your bill if you allow the company to turn off your water heater or A/C during peak demand periods. This is called a direct load program. Do not use heat producing appliances in the middle of the day. Save dishwashing and clothes washing for evening hours. Dry your clothes on a line. Microwave or grill your meals and avoid using your stove. Install ENERGY STAR® fluorescent compact light bulbs.

Most importantly of all, have a certified HVAC technician thoroughly check and maintain your HVAC system so it operates at peak efficiency. If your system is over ten years old, consider installing High Efficiency Air Conditioning. You will recover the cost of the system in the first five years of operation through the energy bill savings you will realize from its use. All of these will help you stay cool while lowering your high utility bills each summer.


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