*Savings are based on examples used in this article.
Fans come in two main forms – ceiling fans and portable fans. As the names suggest, ceiling fans are fixed to the ceiling of a room, while portable fans can be moved from room to room. Fans blow a cool breeze towards the occupants of the room, which hits their skin and provides an immediate cooling effect.
Ceiling or Portable Fan?
Both ceiling and portable fans are equally energy-efficient. A ceiling fan can cost you around $300 all up, including installation, whereas a portable fan can cost you as little as $20. However our pick is always to go with a ceiling fan with reversible blades if you can. There are a number of reasons for this:
- Ceiling fans are more effective at covering the entire room and all its occupants, especially if they’re installed in a central location in the room.
- Ceiling fans can be used to evenly distribute air from an air-conditioner or an evaporative cooler to all parts of the room. They can also provide extra cooling throughout the room, meaning you can set the air conditioner at a higher temperature, reducing your air conditioner’s energy use.
- Ceiling fans with reversible blades can also be used to help heat a room in winter, simply by reversing the direction in which the blades rotate. This can help reduce your winter heating bills.
If however your budget doesn’t stretch far enough to install ceiling fans throughout the home, then a portable fan is still a great option.
Financial and Environmental Savings
Here’s how a ceiling fan stacks up against a number of other cooling systems both financially and environmentally.
Cooling an Individual Room (an area of 20 m2)
The ceiling fan turned out to be the cleanest and cheapest form of cooling. Our calculations showed that using a ceiling fan on its own saved more than $1,000 over 10 years when compared to using an air conditioner. Half of these savings were in energy costs alone! It also saved almost 2.4 tonnes of CO2 over the same period (the equivalent of driving 15,800 km in a car)1.
|Ceiling Fan||Air Conditioner
|Annual Energy Cost||$9||$63||$54|
|10 Year Total Cost||$387||$1,450||$1,063|
|10 Year CO2 Emissions||396 kg||2,767 kg||2,371 kg|
Figures based on 560 hours of cooling per year and an average electricity price of 21.9c per kw/h. Air conditioning unit compared was a 2.5KW reverse cycle unit with an EER of 4.82. Calculations assume 125KW of cooling per m2.
Cooling an Entire Home (an area of 100 m2)
Our calculations showed that ceiling fans are by far the cheapest way of cooling a home, saving almost $6,900 over 10 years when compared to ducted evaporative cooling, and close to $7,600 when compared to ducted reverse cycle air conditioning and ducted add-on cooling (cooling units added onto ducted gas heating). We’ve assumed a home with 6 rooms / 8 outlets.
In addition, ceiling fans saved almost 18.4 tonnes of CO2 over 10 years when compared to ducted reverse cycle air conditioning and ducted add-on cooling – that’s the equivalent of driving 122,700 km!
Air Con /
|Annual Energy Cost||$55||$477||$422|
|10 Year Total Cost||$2,321||$9,917||$7,596|
|10 Year CO2 Emissions||2,375 kg||20,776 kg||18,401 kg|
Figures based on 560 hours of cooling per year and an average electricity price of 21.9c per kw/h. Air conditioning unit compared was a 12.5KW ducted reverse cycle unit with an EER of 3.21. Calculations assume 125kw of cooling per m2.
A ceiling fan is clearly the most economical and environmentally friendly method of cooling, so we recommend that you install one in every room – whether you live in a house or an apartment. Make sure you install one with reversible blades so that you can use it in winter to help heat your home.
On most days a ceiling fan may be all you need to keep you cool, while on days of extreme heat, it can allow you to run your air conditioner less intensely, helping you reduce your air conditioner’s running costs. Either way, it means less reliance on an air conditioner, which can only be a good thing for your hip pocket and for the environment.