The Autumnal Equinox occurs this week, marking the end of Summer, even as we
experience a bit of a heat wave here in Indianapolis. But even with record
temperatures in the 90’s during the day, as night falls so does the heat. This
makes it a great time of year to lower your utility bill and reduce energy
consumption by turning on a fan to help keep your home comfortable. Don’t have
one? Well, you might want to consider installing a ceiling fan in your living
room and/or bedrooms as part of a money and energy-savings program for your home.
Ceiling fans are considered the most effective fans compared among table
fans, floor fans, and fans mounted to poles or walls because they effectively
circulate the air in a room to create a draft throughout the room. Many of
today’s homes are prewired for ceiling fixtures, which makes the installation of
a ceiling fan a fairly easy do-it-yourself project.
If you use air conditioning, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the
thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort. In temperate climates
like we have here in Central Indiana, or during moderately hot weather, ceiling
fans may allow you to avoid using your air conditioner altogether. Install a fan
in each room that needs to be cooled during hot weather. Turn off ceiling fans
when you leave a room; fans cool people, not rooms, by creating a wind chill
Before deciding to purchase a ceiling fan, first check your room’s dimensions to
make sure that you can best leverage the benefits a ceiling fan can provide.
Ceiling fans are only appropriate in rooms with ceilings at least eight feet
high. Fans work best when the blades are 7–9 feet above the floor and 10–12
inches below the ceiling. Fans should be installed so their blades are no closer
than 8 inches from the ceiling and 18 inches from the walls.
Larger ceiling fans can move more air than smaller fans. A 36- or 44-inch
diameter fan will cool rooms up to 225 square feet, while fans that are 52
inches or more should be used in larger rooms. Multiple fans work best in rooms
longer than 18 feet. Small- and medium-sized fans will provide efficient cooling
in a 4- to 6-foot diameter area, while larger fans are effective up to 10 feet.
A larger blade will also provide comparable cooling at a lower velocity than
a smaller blade. This may be important in areas where loose papers or other
objects will be disturbed by a strong breeze. The fan should also be fitted to
the aesthetics of the room—a large fan may appear overpowering in a small room.
While choosing a better quality ceiling fan (may be $50 or so more than the
"cheaper" version) will require a higher up-front investment, a more expensive
fan that operates quietly and smoothly will probably offer longer, more
trouble-free service than cheaper units. Check the noise ratings, and, if
possible, listen to your fan in operation before you buy it. Also, look for the ENERGY STAR® label. Fans that earn the label move air 20% more efficiently, on average, than standard models.
Once you’ve installed the fan, you should notice a significant difference in the
room’s temperature. Instead of making manual adjustments to your air
conditioner, turn on your ceiling fan to make the house a bit more comfortable.
And in the cool morning and evenings, you may be able to turn off the air
conditioner altogether. Natural ventilation combined with your new ceiling fan
can keep the house comfortable without air conditioning.
The bottom line is this: with properly sized and installed ceiling fans in the rooms
you use most you can look forward to saving money, and energy, for years to
For more information about how Thiele Heating and Air Conditioning can help
improve the efficiency of your heating and air conditioning system, call (317)
Visit the ENERGYSTAR® website. (opens in new window)