Air conditioning feels great in hot weather, but it doesn't feel as great when you receive your electric bill. But you can save money by supplementing the cooling power of your air conditioning with fans.
Air conditioner electricity use
Many people do not realize how much electricity their air conditioner consumes. According to Mr. Electricity, in most areas it's about 16% of total electricity used, and in some warmer regions like Texas it can be 60-70%. A central air conditioner unit uses about 3500 watts per hour, and a window unit uses about 900. Most people use more than one window unit, though, so 4 of them use 3600 watts per hour, more than the central unit. If you left your refrigerator door open for an hour, it would only use up 358 watts.
How fans can cut your electricty bill
But fans can cut your air conditioning use by adding cooling power to a room. A great way to start saving on A/C is by installing ceiling fans, which use about 75 watts per hour. Set the ceiling fan to run counter-clockwise, so the air blows down and you get a cooling breeze. You can save around 23% of your electrical costs by using a ceiling fan, because you can set your air conditioner's thermostat higher. Lifehacker advises setting it at 78 degrees instead of 74.
You can also cut the amount of time you run your A/C by using just ceiling fans in the cool morning and during the cool evening. If you run your A/C 7 hours a day instead of 9, you'll cut your electricity costs by $34 per month. You can run a ceiling fan 18 hours a day for around $6.00 a month, so you can run 5 ceiling fans 18 hours a day and still save money. The best idea is to put ceiling fans in all the rooms you spend the most time in.
You can also supplement your air conditioning with floor fans, like oscillating and box fans. Fans cool by evaporation, pulling heat away from humans, so they're more comfortable in higher temperatures and humidity. So you can turn down the A/C 2-6 degrees, saving 8% in cooling costs for each degree according to the Florida Energy Solar Center. A floor fan only uses 100 watts per hour on the highest speed, which is generally higher than you need. So you can use several fans in a room and still save money. You can place one to pull cold air from the A/C further into the room.
Using fans can also save you money on ac repairs. If you run your air conditioner less, and put less stress on it on the hottest days, you won’t have to place that emergency call to your local air conditioner company. Your air conditioning may even last longer, saving you even more money.
Fans can even save on electricity bills by allowing you to turn off your ac altogether. There can be a few summer days in Texas that are not too warm, and you can be comfortable opening the windows and running just the fans. Ah, fresh air, and saving money, too!
About the author: Brent Nau is a freelance content editor with Max Mechanical, an air conditioning and heating company in Arlington, Texas. You can follow him on Twitter @brentnau.
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