Save Money and Stay Cool with Ceiling Fans

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Beat the heat this summer while saving money. According to the American Lighting Association, consumers who aren't using ceiling fans are costing themselves mega-bucks. A ceiling fan can make a room 10 degrees cooler, which adds up to lower electricity bills. Ceiling fan manufacturers now offer more efficient and effective models than ever before, and ALA-member showrooms have professionally trained consultants to help consumers select the optimal fan products for their homes.

Photo courtesy of Monte Carlo Fan Company

Smaller rooms can use either a 42- or a 48-inch diameter model.

It’s easier than you think to beat the heat this summer while saving money. “People tend to forget that ceiling fans reduce energy. Using them allows you to run your air conditioner less frequently,” notes Nathan Frampton, president of Fanimation. “If you aren’t using your ceiling fan during these hot summer nights, you are costing yourself mega-bucks,” he adds.

“The best way to understand the benefits is to do a few simple calculations,” explains 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. “If the ambient air temperature is 78°, your body will feel as if it is 72° if you are seated under a ceiling fan operating at a low speed. The fan makes you feel cooler by flowing air over your skin, which causes your perspiration to evaporate faster.”

Zeynep T. McLeane of Emerson Air Comfort Products agrees. “A ceiling fan can make a person feel as if the room is 10° cooler,” he comments. “It runs on a fairly low amount of energy that is equivalent to a 100-watt bulb – and even less if it is an Energy Star®-qualified fan.”

Where’s the ideal spot?
The best place to install a ceiling fan is any room where you will be spending a lot of time (i.e. family rooms, bedrooms, and recreation rooms). “There really isn’t an area in the house where people are not installing ceiling fans,” McLeane states. “Bathrooms, garages and closets are also good applications. With outdoor spaces gaining popularity and the increase of damp- or wet-location UL-listed products, homeowners can easily put up a ceiling fan in their covered porch areas.”

Cliff Crimmings of Craftmade provides another scenario. “The laundry room is a great place to install a ceiling fan,” he notes. “Running the fan will balance the moisture content and heat to match that of the other rooms in the home.

Does it matter how many blades a ceiling fan has?
Believe it or not, what’s more important is selecting a ceiling fan that is the right size for the space. “Rooms that are approximately 150 sq. ft. or larger require a 52-inch diameter fan to be most effective,” Rey-Barreau advises. “Smaller rooms can use either a 42- or a 48-inch diameter model.” Larger great rooms may require bigger fans with up to a 72-inch span.

“The majority of ceiling fans sold have five blades, but this is more of an aesthetic consideration rather than a practical one,” Rey-Barreau says. “A fan with fewer blades actually moves more air. That’s why if you look at fans located high in a space such as a warehouse, they will typically be industrial-grade, three-blade fans. However, unless a home has extremely high ceilings and the objective is to move a significant amount of air, it is generally acceptable to buy a fan with four or five blades.”

A wise choice is to buy a reversible model. “In the winter, you want to mix the air in the room with out creating any chill factor. The best way to do this is to reverse the fan and run it on low only,” Crimmings advises.

Which style is right for me?
Fifteen years ago, consumers were happy with a simple white fan, however, the range of style options today has made ceiling fans an important part of décor. The decision of whether or not to use a light kit depends on need; it does not affect performance.

“If a room does not have other light sources, then a light kit is a necessity,” Rey-Barreau notes. “Many light kits are almost an integral part of the fan, making the look of the fan even more desirable.”

One of the biggest advantages of buying a ceiling fan from an ALA-member lighting showroom is that they have expert sales associates to help you with the selection process. The range of fan sizes, styles and types of fans can be overwhelming when it comes to making a decision. The personnel in a lighting showroom are highly trained, and are able to match your needs to the appropriate fan.

Another incentive? “Lighting showrooms offer customizable products not available a big box retailer,” McLeane remarks. “There are products that come in a box ready to go, but if customers want, they can customize the finish of the housing, select from wood or hand-carved blades, add light fixtures to their fan, add ceiling medallions to the ceiling, and get the perfect control system they need at a lighting showroom. Another benefit is service: most dealers will assist you with any problems that might arise and can recommend installers at reasonable rates.”

Crimmings adds, “Showrooms will also help you plan how far away from the ceiling to install your fan to achieve the best overall effect for the room. The lighting showroom staff will also advise you on the perfect way to control your fan either through remote control options or wall switches compatible with the fan product as well as your homes wiring and electrical plate trim.”

For more information about finding the perfect ceiling fan for your home, or to find an ALA-member showroom near you, visit the American Lighting Association website at http://www.AmericanLightingAssoc.com or call (800) BRIGHT-IDEAS (800-274-4484).

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