CONSUMER REPORTS — They’ve been around for decades, but how much do you really know about ceiling fans? As it turns out, they don’t actually lower the temperature in a room- they cool you off by creating a draft that moves air over your skin.
To keep her home comfortable, Paula Machado relies on three ceiling fans, plus a little air conditioning.
“We have the ceiling fans on all day long in the entire house to help it cool off. And it’s important because one, it saves our electric bill somewhat, and two, it really helps extend the life of our AC,” Machado said.
And here’s the best part- ceiling fans cost very little to run, and when used with your air conditioner, you can actually raise the thermostat by about 4 degrees and feel just as cool. Fans with the Energy Star label are 60 percent more efficient than conventional fan/light units.
To optimize the power of your fan – place it at the perfect height.
“Hang your fan high – they work best when the blades are 7 to 9 feet above the floor and from 10 to 12 inches below the ceiling. If your ceiling is really high, use a down rod to bring it to the right height, said Paul Hope of Consumer Reports.
The most popular fan size is 52 inches. They’re best for large rooms, from 225 to 400 square feet. A 42 to 44 inch fan is effective in rooms from 144 to 225 square feet. If your room is borderline, opt for the larger fan, run at a lower speed.
When it’s time to install, if you’re replacing a light fixture with a ceiling fan, check to ensure that the electric box can support the weight.
Your fan is going to gather dust and even pollen. To keep it clean, Consumer Reports says to lay a sheet beneath the fan, to protect furniture and floors. Wipe the blades and housing gently with a damp cloth and all-purpose cleaner.
Finally, remember that fans cool people, not rooms, so always turn them off when you leave.