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Does a Ceiling Fan Increase my Air Conditioner Efficiency

How an Air Conditioner Works

Your air conditioner’s job is to cool down your home and remove humidity. It uses a thermostat, usually located on a wall away from any major heat sources, to monitor the temperature of your home. Some thermostats also monitor the humidity. Once your thermostat senses that your house has “met temperature”, it will send a signal to your system to tell it to shut down. If your system is too large for your home, it will meet temperature and shut down before it has had a chance to remove humidity from the house. The key to the whole process is your thermostat sensing the temperature around it and telling your system when to turn on and off.

How a Ceiling Fan Works

Ceiling fans are used to circulate air around a room. The air circulates and causes sweat from your skin to evaporate. This evaporation makes your body feel cooler. If the air were to remain completely static, once some sweat was evaporated from your skin, that air around it would reach 100 % humidity and be unable to absorb any more sweat. By moving the air around the room, you are allowing air that is not saturated with water to move along your skin and cool it.

If you were to place a fan in a sealed room with no other ventilation, the temperature inside that room would increase. The electricity from the fan will cause heat to be produced. Since the fan does not actually cool the air and only circulates it, the room would continue to rise in temperature over time.

How can a Ceiling Fan make my Air Conditioner more Efficient?

Now that you know that a ceiling fan will only increase temperature and not decrease it you may think that it is a bad idea to run one if you are trying to save on electricity. That would be true if there were no other variables at play. However, when you combine what we have learned about how an air conditioner knows when to turn on and off, we learn that ceiling fans are a net gain in efficiency.

When your air conditioner system runs, it sends cool air into your home through your supply vents and sucks in air through your return vents. The return vent is where you place filters (if not in your air handler). When the air is pushed out of the supply vents, it may not have enough force to push out into the room. The cooled air pushes down, or up, depending on where your vents are located, but does not spread out through the room quickly. It may also push the warm air that is rising to the ceiling out of the way and return through your systems return vent.

A ceiling fan can help circulate that cold air throughout the room. This allows for the warm air to more freely move towards the ceiling and the cool air to move lower to ground level. Since the room is being filled with the cooler air quicker, and it is not being set back through your return instead of the warm air, your room will “meet temperature” quicker. Since your air conditioner system is more expensive to run, and the fan helps it run less, you end up saving money on electricity.

Maintain your system

A fan can help reduce your electricity costs, but keep in mind that the largest source of savings is in your air conditioner system itself. SEER ratings can drop quickly without maintenance on your system.

Graph of SEER Loss due to Age

The chart above shows how quickly a unit’s SEER rating can drop. SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, is how efficient your unit is. This shows that your effective unit capacity, without maintenance, reduces more steeply the larger your unit is. Roughly every 12,000 BTU is equal to a “Ton” of air. So, without maintenance, your 4-ton – 20 SEER air conditioners could be effectively working as a 3-ton system within 5 years. Maintenance is key to keeping the efficiency of your air conditioner.

If you need a maintenance done, contact Millian Aire for a one-time maintenance, or join our Millian Aire Club to get two maintenances a year, as well as other benefits. Whoever you choose to do a maintenance on your system, make sure they take the time to perform a full service. They should be at your home for at least an hour.

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