There's something luxurious about having a constant breeze on your skin. But what’s the energy cost of that luxury? Actually, ceiling fans are an energy-efficient and cost-effective way to stay cool in warmer months, and although some models use more energy than others, ceiling fans still use far less electricity than air conditioners. Exactly how much electricity does a ceiling fan use?
Like most questions about energy consumption, there are a few variables to consider. We’ll explore them in this post. We’ll also look at the differences between a ceiling fan and air conditioning, and some tips on how to make your ceiling fan usage more efficient.
Lastly, we’ll show you a helpful appliance electricity calculator from Energy.gov. You’ll be able to punch in your own ceiling fan information and find out exactly how much electricity it uses and how much it’s costing you, on average.
How Much Electricity Does a Ceiling Fan Use?
There’s a simple formula for finding out how much electricity your ceiling fan uses, but you’ll need to know how many watts your ceiling fan requires to run. If it’s a new fan, the wattage of your ceiling fan will be listed on the box it came in.
If it’s a fan that’s already in the ceiling, maybe you’re lucky enough to have the owner's manual lying around. If not, you might have to get a step ladder and take a peek. There should be a sticker with the watts listed on the base. If not, you can always look up the manufacturer and model online.
Multiply the number of watts needed to power your ceiling fan by the cost per kilowatt hour rate that you pay your electric utility company.
As an example, let’s say you have a fan that requires 100 watts of electricity to run and that you pay $0.18 per kilowatt hour for electricity.
100 watts x 0.18 = 18
Since we want to know this in kilowatts, and 1,000 watts equals 1 kilowatt, we divide this number by 1,000.
18 / 1,000 = 0.018
Once you know this, you know the cost of running the fan for one hour. So, running your 100-watt ceiling fan for one hour will cost almost two cents. Multiply that by the number of hours you’ll use the fan, and you’ll have a good idea of how much electricity the fan uses in a day and what it would cost at that utility rate.
For our example, let’s say you want to keep cool under your ceiling fan during the hottest part of the day, maybe 6 hours.
0.018 x 6 = 0.108
Rounding up again, that’s about 11 cents for the day. Not bad.
Other Factors of Ceiling Fan Electricity Consumption
Obviously, a big part of this equation is how many watts your ceiling fan uses. The wattage can vary from 10 watts to 120 watts or more, depending on the manufacturer. Other variables are the size and speeds of the fan, and whether the ceiling fan has a light fixture or not.
Ceiling fans with no lights are extremely energy efficient. If you’re using the light from a ceiling fan, you’ll have to add the wattage of each light bulb into your equation, too. Of course, you can make these more efficient by using LED or other energy-saving light bulbs in your ceiling fan.
If you are using an older fan, another option is to replace an old ceiling fan with a newer Energy Star-certified model. Of course, an old-fashioned idea for saving energy while using a ceiling fan is to turn the fan off when you leave the room.
Electricity of Fans vs. Air Conditioners
While a ceiling fan uses between 10 and 120 watts, air conditioners can use anywhere between 750 and 3,500 watts. That’s a pretty big difference. An air conditioner has a lot more work to do since it actually cools the air temperature in a room. A ceiling fan, on the other hand, simply circulates the air and relieves your skin from the heat. It whisks away any moisture from sweat and activates your body’s natural cooling mechanisms.
If you’d like to play around with how much electricity your ceiling fan uses, versus an air conditioner, try this appliance energy calculator from Energy.org. You can select the appliance, wattage, and how many hours per day you’ll use it. It helps you find an average utility rate in your state, so you can quickly find out how much a ceiling fan might cost you per year.
Read this article if you’re curious about how much electricity a space heater uses, and if you’d like to know how to keep track of your electricity use yourself, see this post on how to read an electric meter.