Monday, May 21, 2012

Ceiling Fans

One of the options we chose not to include in our modular home was central air conditioning.  We do have a furnace, so if we decide we need central air down the road, we can certainly install it.  I’m hoping that we wont need air, because it gives me a headache, and because I love the windows open and the smell of fresh air and cut grass in the summer.  We have our house closed up all winter, and I don’t want it closed up in the summer.  Of course we live in Central New York, not central Texas, so that at least allows me the option of choosing fans.

We're also hoping to realize some savings with the fans, both in summer and in winter.  Central air costs about seventy times more to run than a fan.  And, according to the fan experts, a ceiling fan can make you feel 3 to 8 degrees cooler.  That's not too bad.

(Today I’m using the term “we” loosely.  My husband would love AC.  So, I will post on AC tomorrow, and consider his opinion).

Our modular home builder wired every room for ceiling fans.  Yesterday it was 91 degrees, which is hot for May, but the house was nice and cool, with just the fans going.  I’m hoping that’s a good omen, but I’ll have to let you know how we’re doing come mid-July when every day is 90 degrees.

If you do want central air, you can still use a ceiling fan and raise your AC temperature, which will also enable you to save money.

I did a quick look on The Home Depot website and there are about 15 pages of ceiling fans, ranging in price from $34.97 to $1908.09 .  Of course loading your house full of 2000 dollar fans, it may take a while to realize any energy savings!

This is the least expensive fan:








This is the most expensive:








You don't have to go to those extremes - as I remember ours cost around $90.  If you decide to buy a couple of ceiling fans, either to help keep the AC temperature up, or to use on their own, you need to get the right size.  Here is a guide to buying the right size fan (from The Home Depot):

Fan Size

Select a fan that is sized to match the dimensions of the room where it will be installed. Fan size is determined by measuring the width straight across from blade tip to blade tip. While a fan may be larger than necessary, as long as it has enough room to rotate properly, a fan that's too small will not effectively circulate the air.

Fan SizeRoom Size (Sq. Ft.)Room TypesPoints to Consider
32"Up to 80

  • Bedroom

  • Bathroom

  • Kitchen

  • Matching fan size to room ensures greater energy efficiency


  • Bedroom

  • Office/study

  • Porch

  • Outdoor areas require specially-designed fans


  • Bedroom

  • Living room

  • Patio

  • Downrods and angle mounts allow installation in tall ceilings


  • Family room

  • Great room

  • Patio

  • Remotes and wall controls make adjusting fan speed easy

I’m not trying to play favorites here, but The Home Depot really does have a huge selection of fans.  I bought mine from the store, rather than online, and it was easy to get the right sizes, and I had a fun afternoon looking at all the fans and lights with my Mom!   All of the ceiling fans I bought had lights.  I needed the lights, but certainly, they come without lights depending on your taste and budget.

Here is our ceiling fan in the living room. The light is not very bright because the shade is a teracotta color.  We don't need a lot of light in our living room because it gets a lot of light from outdoors in the day, and at night we want it ambient rather than bright.

That WAS in our bedroom, because I thought I wanted it to be nice and dim and romantic in there.  But it turns out I don't!  I want to read at night!  So we took this out of the living room:

Not only can I read at night, I find my outfits actually match nowadays!

When you use your ceiling fan, and this may seem obvious, but sometimes I like to state the obvious - in the summer months, make sure the blades are blowing down.  We generate heat, and fans push that hot air away from our bodies.  When we sweat, the moving air cools us as well.  Ceiling fans do not make the air cooler, they just cool YOU.  To be clear, no need to leave ceiling fans on if you're not home, they cool people not the air.

Ceiling fans are also efficient during the winter.  Almost all ceiling fans have  a switch to change the direction of the blade.  In winter, your heat rises, so all your heat heads up to the ceiling.  I’ve read that the air at the ceiling is 15 degrees warmer than the rest of the room!  What?!  If you change the direction of the blades and keep them  on the lowest speed, you will gently force the heat back down to the floor, where you are!

Now here’s a tip:  When winter is over, and you decide to switch the direction of the ceiling fan blades, stop and think.  What is that long handled duster I own used for? Why don’t I use it on the ceiling fan blades?  Because, according to a friend of mine, not ME, if you skip this step, and just switch the direction and turn the fan on, you will walk back into a room full of little tiny dust bunnies.  That must have been really funny for my friend.

You have to get your ceiling fans up.  I’m lucky.  I have a live-in electrician.  And he’s tall.  So, he hung our ceiling fans in the blink of an eye.  One day this Spring we even decided to switch the ceiling fan  in the bedroom with the one in the living room, and by the time I had a cup of coffee he had the fans switched.  Good job, darlin!  BUT, if you don’t know what you’re doing and don’t have someone handy in your life, hire someone.  The fans can be heavy, you have to stand on a ladder a fool around with wires.  Not a good idea.

Well, that’s it for today and ceiling fans.  Now I’m off to help my hubby with cutting the poison ivy vines from our trees - no, not really!  That’s not a good idea either!