Does a Fan Cool a Room With No One In It or
Does it Just Cool Your Skin?
In general no, a fan cools the occupants of a room, not the air within or the room itself.
Have you ever wondered why some homeowners leave fans on in rooms they aren’t in? Perhaps in a bedroom during the day a ceiling fan might be left on all day. Is there any benefit to this at all, or are they just wasting power? The answer may not be so simple.
For decades the go-to device to cool a home has been fans. Even centuries-old fans that you hold by hand do help in cooling you. Wind passing over your skin especially when you’re sweating does have a cooling effect and so it would make sense that having air circulating in your house will also cool the air in your home. But cooling “the air” and “cooling your skin” are two very different things. This is why in most cases if you’re not in a room where the fan is on, you’re just wasting power.
The Fan Confusion
Many homeowners now have ceiling fans often in their bedrooms. These fans are out of the way and can be turned on when you’re in the room to help circulate the air and cool you. Many people even find it hard to sleep without a fan going, they either like the noise of the motor or the feeling of the air blowing against their skin. But that’s where the benefit of a running fan ends, if you’re not in a room during the day you’re not there to feel the cooling effect. This is because fans only cool your skin, they don’t actually cool the air in the room. There is one variable to this though, and there is if your home has hot or cool spots, sometimes a fan can help distribute the cooler air produced by your AC into some of the hotter areas of your home. For the most part, though ceiling fans circulate the air inside of a room, it won’t circulate air from the hallway into a room, or vice versa.
Window Fans and Attic Fans
Certain types of fans help cool other areas of your home even if you’re not directly in the same room the fan is in. This is the case for window fans and attic fans. These types of fans don’t just circulate the air inside of a certain room, they create a pressure in your whole home that sucks in or blows out air through your entire house if you have windows on the other side of your home open. In some climates, this is a good means for cooling a home, especially if the humidity isn’t too high and it’s not too hot outside. It’s actually recommended by the CDC to open windows and let in fresh air often as it is good for your health. In very hot climates where you’re running your HVAC though just be aware that if you raise the temperature by a few degrees doing this that it could take hours to bring your home’s internal temps back down with your air conditioner.
Suggestions to Save Energy
The best way to save power is to not have ceiling fans and oscillating fans running in rooms that aren’t occupied. As a rule, you’ll want to turn off a fan as you exit a room that you don’t plan to be in just as you would turn off a light that you’re not using. Of course, if you accidentally leave a ceiling fan on occasion you’re not going to see a huge spike in your power bill as they only use 10-120 watts. That amount of power however does add up if you continuously leave it all every day in a month. At that rate, if you leave two ceiling fans on high 24 hours a day it could cost you $20 per month in Charlotte NC via Duke Energy.
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