Skip to content

Switch On That Ceiling Fan

To stay cool in one of the hottest summers on record and avoid an astronomical energy bill, take the Environmental Protection Agency’s advice: Create a refreshing breeze with a ceiling fan.

“If you raise your air conditioner’s thermostat by only two degrees and turn on a ceiling fan, you will feel just as cool and lower your costs by up to 14 percent over the course of a season,” says Karen Schneider of the EPA’s Energy Star program.

Consolidated Edison Co. of New York, one of the country’s largest energy providers, concurs, adding that to get maximum effect, the fan must be propelling air down (in most models, that means a counterclockwise direction for the blades). And spokesperson Elizabeth Clark says you can also save if you shut down the AC when you’re feeling comfortable and run the fan for a while.

When winter comes, your fan can reduce utility bills, too. Lower your thermostat a few degrees and reverse the rotational direction of the blades from the summer setting. Running the fan at low speed will produce a gentle updraft that forces the warm air near the ceiling down into your living space.

Joan Rattner Heilman writes on good deals and where to find them.