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Should I Use My Ceiling Fans, My Air Conditioner, or Both?


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Summer is here, and the warmer weather has moved into Grand Rapids. While this is a welcome relief from the winter’s cold, soon, we will turn on our air conditioners and ceiling fans to cool off our homes. At Grapids Heating and Cooling, we are often asked questions about when the best time is to use your home’s ceiling fans instead of its air conditioning system and if sometimes you should use both. Since each cools differently and uses different amounts of electricity, there are definitely times when you might want to use one over another or both simultaneously. Here, we will attempt to clear any confusion over this common question.

How Does a Ceiling Fan Cool Your Home?

Fans do not actually cool the room they are in, nor do they lower the humidity in the space. But if you sit near one, the movement of air that the fan creates can make you feel cooler as it breezes across your skin. This is because as the air blows over your skin, it helps evaporate any moisture on your skin. As the moisture evaporates, it absorbs the heat around it as it dissipates into vapor.

Fans are considered energy-efficient for situations in which you just want to cool yourself off and not an entire room or house. If that is your goal, when sitting down in front of a fan, you are likely to use about 1% of the electricity needed to operate your air conditioner. However, there are a few caveats to just using your ceiling fans, including:

  • Unless you are in the room, they are not actually cooling anything.
  • You must also have your fan running in the correct direction, counterclockwise during the summer to direct air downward.
  • Fans are not as effective when it is over 95 degrees and humid, as they can increase your rate of dehydration and cause heat-related illnesses, like heat exhaustion.

How Does Your Air Conditioner Cool Your Home?

An air conditioner is the most comfortable cooling option when it’s hot and humid. It reduces the ambient heat in your home through heat transfer. The heat is absorbed in the refrigerant that continually circulates when your air conditioner is on. It is transferred outdoors, where it is dissipated via the condenser unit’s aluminum fins. Your air conditioner also assists in removing moisture from the air that can make you feel hot and sticky.

You should choose to use your air conditioner if:

  • The temperature outdoors is in the 90s.
  • The humidity is high.
  • You want to cool your entire home.
  • You are okay with a higher electric bill.

When Should You Use Both?

Sometimes, it is recommended to use both your ceiling fans and your air conditioner. Since ceiling fans do not use that much electricity, they can help you feel cooler as they push the cooled air in your home downward. But remember, if you are not home, turn off your ceiling fans to conserve electricity and raise the temperature on your thermostat to 78 degrees to keep your cooling costs at bay. It is also important to have your air conditioning system tuned up each spring to ensure it is running efficiently to help save on your cooling costs.

If you missed your spring tune-up, it is not too late to get back on track by scheduling an AC tune-up today with Grapids Home Services in Grand Rapids, MI. Call us today at (616)-453-1099 or contact us online, and be sure to check out our monthly specials and promotions!

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