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News: Ceiling fans become energy vampires


     When used correctly, ceiling fans can make the air in a home seem an average of 4 degrees cooler than it actually is, but when no one is in the room to enjoy the breeze, it quickly becomes an energy vampire.
     Ceiling fans have become so common in American homes that many are left running at all times.  But, this practice racks up unnecessary kilowatt-hours. “Ceiling fans do not cool rooms; they cool people,” explained CHELCO Energy Advisor Ashley Sweeney.
      Because fans do not actually cool the interior of the house itself, leaving a fan running when the room is not occupied is a two-fold energy vampire. Not only is the fan burning electricity for no purpose, but the fan’s motor generates unwanted heat. Some reach normal operating temperatures of more than 120 degrees, which causes the home’s air conditioner to work harder than necessary.
      Research shows that more than 75 percent of all homes in the United States have ceiling fans, which certainly can help lower cooling costs and make homes more comfortable during the hot summer months. Using a ceiling fan in conjunction with an air conditioner creates a wind-chill effect called convective cooling.  Essentially, the air moving across the skin evaporates moisture on the skin and makes the room seem cooler.
     “This allows most people to raise their thermostat three to four degrees while feeling just as comfortable,” said Sweeney, “and every degree the thermostat is raised above 78 degrees  saves three to five percent on cooling costs.”  
      To take full advantage of this cooling process, the fan’s blades should spin in a counterclockwise direction.    
      So, ceiling fans can be a mixed blessing. Whether used in conjunction with air conditioning or alone, they make the air in a room feel cooler but do not actually cool the air. So, when a room is empty, the fan should not run.
     .In the winter, ceiling fans help in much the same way. Changing the blade rotation to clockwise, and setting the fan to the lowest speed, drives warm air, which collects near the ceiling, back down to the occupied portion of the room without creating wind chill.
     For more energy saving tips, visit the energy savings tab of chelco.com.




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