Heating your home during the winter and cooling it during the summer can be tough on your budget, but do we really need as much as we think we need in order to be comfortable during extreme temperatures? Can you survive a heatwave without using air conditioning? Why of course you can. In fact, there are plenty of houses that do not have central heat and air. And the people that live in those houses? They’re doing just fine.
Helping the Environment
In terms of cooling down your home, there are no lack of options. Circulating fans (including table fans, ceiling fans and floor fans) produce a wind chill effect providing you a level of relief in your home, without that costly monthly energy statement. Not only is switching to a circulating fan easier on your wallet, it’s also better for the environment.
In 2014, the average American homeowner used 10,932 kilowatt-hours (kWh) in electricity consumption, according to the US Energy Administration (EIA). Broken down, that number comes to 911 kWh per month. A watt (W) is a measure of power with a kilowatt equaling 1000 watts! A kilowatt-hour measures the number of kilowatts consumed in one hour.
Looking at the numbers, we’re using quite a bit of energy in our homes. This isn’t just costly; it’s harming the environment. Americans rely on power plants that use a number of energy resources to provide households with electricity. These include: coal, nuclear energy, natural gas and solar energy, referred to as the electric power grid. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), electricity power grids are still relying heavily on fossil fuels, with 39 percent of power coming from coal and 27 percent from natural gas consumption. So what’s the effect on the environment you ask? Solid waste, air pollution, water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and thermal pollution – all of which affect animals, plants and their surrounding ecosystems. In essence, our energy consumption is deadly. But don’t lose hope. There are ways to combat the energy crisis.
The Ceiling Fan Conversion
The Florida Senica Air Conditioning Company estimates that a central air conditioner runs about 3500 watts, with a central A/C fan (with the compressor off) running at 750 watts. What’s the wattage of the average ceiling fan? A maximum of 75 watts!
In terms of efficiency, ceiling fans are the most effective, according to the United States Department of Energy. Why? Because the blades of a ceiling fan create a draft in the space through air circulation. The resulting wind chill effect cools you down.
But how does a ceiling fan keep us cool during the hot peak of summer? If you use an air conditioning unit, you can raise your thermostat, as the fan will circulate the cool air.
Running the blades counter-clockwise moves the hot air around the space, helping to disperse the sweat on your skin and produce a cooling effect. When used in conjunction with an evaporative air conditioner, you can lower your thermostat and save on water and power, conserving energy and helping the environment all in one swoop.
But did you also know you can use your ceiling fan to help keep you warm during the winter months too?
Heat rises. Simple science, right? So when you have your fireplace going in the winter, all of that warm air floats to the top of your house. Instead of keeping the errant spider comfortable in his corner of the ceiling, warm yourself by switching your ceiling fan on to a low speed and running it clockwise. This pushes the heat back down to the floor. During the winter, the cold air is thicker. The clockwise motion of the fan moves the cold air up, forcing the heat to shift back along down the walls to a lower level of the space.
Americans spend $22 billion annually on air conditioning. A ceiling fan costs one cent per three hours of use! Which would you rather use?