There’s nothing like sitting in front of the gentle breeze of a fan on a hot day. Fans help circulate air through the home while providing a comforting gust of wind that makes hot summer days bearable. They can also provide a soothing white noise when sleeping, drowning out the sounds of traffic and neighbors all year long. But how much energy does a fan use when we’re sleeping, or cooling off? Is it too much on our energy bills? There’s good news for fan lovers: The average fan’s energy use is much less than you may expect. In fact, when calculating how much energy does a fan use, the daily numbers aren’t in dollars, but cents. Adding up over time, fan energy can average to only a few dollars a year. Costs depend on how much you operate your fan and the average wattage the fan uses. You can save both energy and money over the course of the year by utilizing your fan with your air conditioning to efficiently cool your home – and save big.
Determining how much energy does a fan use, there are a few things to consider. Foremost is the wattage. For example, the Lasko 16″ Performance Pedestal Fan uses approximately 80 watts when operating at a normal speed. When calculating how much energy does a fan use, the wattage numbers usually correspond to the size and settings of the fan itself. Many fans do not reach more than 70 watts at high settings. Smaller tabletop fans and box fans run on less wattage. Consumer Reports offers the following calculation to estimating energy usage for space heaters, but the wattage rules apply to fans as well.
The current national average for electricity rates per kilowatt hour is around $0.13. The average is higher in states like Alaska ($0.22 per kilowatt hour) and New York ($0.19 per kilowatt hour) and lower in states like Idaho ($0.10) and Arkansas ($0.09). A fan running at 100 watts for 8 hours a day at an average of $0.13 per kilowatt hour would only cost you $0.10. The aforementioned Lasko 16″ Performance Pedestal Fan that uses approximately 80 watts would only cost $0.08 to run for 8 hours. The size of the fan plays into how much energy does a fan use – larger tower fans that run at 100 watts will cost more than a personal table fan at 30 watts. (The wattage is so low that many fans do not list the number in their advertisements.)
All this math a bit complicated? The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has a quick calculator for appliance energy use that allows you to automatically plug in and calculate your numbers to determine how much energy your fan uses. A ceiling fan that runs on 35 watts for 8 hours a day at an average of $0.12 per kilowatt hour costs $0.03. Using that same fan for 8 hours a day for 365 days a year would only cost you $12.26 a year. That’s around a dollar a month for a year of increased air circulation and cool breezes. The bottom line is that running a fan in your home during the day while the family enjoys the gentle air flow or overnight as you sleep costs a tiny amount compared to the rest of your utility bills.
How you utilize your fan in the home can also play a large part in determining how much energy does the fan use. When you use your fan in tandem with the air conditioner to cool the home, you end up saving both energy and money in the long run. By raising the setting of the air conditioner a few degrees (the DOE recommends going up by 7°F to 10°F), you can save as much as 10% a year on your utility bill. Setting the AC for 78°F and using fans to increase the cooling effect allows for extra savings. The laws of science dictate that heat rises; the hot air in your home rises to the ceiling, while cool air lingers toward the ground. Using an energy-efficient fan to help redistribute the hot air down and the cool air up can create an all-over comfortable living space without having to touch the AC thermostat. By positioning a fan like the 20″ Wind Machine® Air Circulator Fan or the 18″ Adjustable Cyclone® Pedestal Fan at the ceiling or under an AC vent, hot air is pushed down and balanced by the cool air coming from the vents or circulating closer to the floor. This cools the room by creating a wind chill effect with continuous whole-room air circulation. Using an air circulator increases the cool airflow; the Air Flexor® Remote Control High Velocity Fan can provide extended airflow up to 75 feet for full-room circulation, and moves the cold air coming from the AC swiftly and evenly through the room. Save-Smart® box fans like the 20″ Weather-Shield® Performance Box Fan and the Cool Colors 20″ Box Fan Blue (which also comes in purple and black) are energy-efficient and cost less than $0.02 to operate. Box fans can also be placed in windows to circulate fresh air through the home when the AC or heat is turned off on milder spring and fall days. Turning off the AC and heat and just using a fan? Given how much energy a fan uses is so low in comparison to other utilities, that’s smart savings.