Trying to stay cool in Florida’s hot summer weather? Enter the classic A/C versus fan debate. Should you turn up the air conditioning? Or switch the fan to the highest setting so that cool air circulates the air more efficiently? As a professional home inspector serving Gainesville, Florida for almost 3 decades, I am often asked if a ceiling fan will assist in cooling a home or is the A/C enough.  The answer is sometimes. 

In this article, I will explain when you should use a ceiling fan—and how using a ceiling fan in the right scenarios can save you money.

When to use your ceiling fan

Is a ceiling fan worth it? It depends. Most modern HVAC systems are built to circulate air throughout your home efficiently. However, fans are still a useful tool for homeowners looking to stay cool, reduce energy and save money. I recommend homeowners use fans in the following situations:

  1. When the weather is tolerably warm, but not sweltering. Instead of switching on the A/C, try the fan first. Fans do not cool the air in your home—but they can circulate the air and help you feel cooler. And most fans cost pennies to operate.
  2. If you want to raise the thermostat, but still feel cool. In warmer weather, fans circulate cool air. According to the S. Department of Energy, a ceiling fan will allow you to increase the temperature about 4 degrees without any reduction in comfort.
  3. If you have an A/C system that was installed sometime before 2005. The newer your HVAC system, the more efficient and better at circulating air it will be. Older systems may need some help circulating cool air to every part of your home. Newer systems are built to run more efficiently and generally don’t need the help, according to All Systems Mechanical.
  1. If you want to save heating costs in the winter. Even in Florida, temperatures can dip enough to create the need warm things up. During these cold spells you can actually reverse the motor of the fan and operate the fan at low speed in the clockwise direction. This will cause the warm air near the celling to push down and help keep temperatures comfortable.

How to choose a ceiling fan

Want a ceiling fan, but wondering how to choose?

Start by checking your ceiling height. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, fans work best when the blades are 7 to 9 feet above the floor. And if you have space, go for a bigger fan over a smaller one.

Also, look to make sure your fan has blades that are placed at a minimum of a 12-degree angle. You want your fan to push air down. Fans with blades that aren’t sufficiently angled won’t be much more than a cosmetic decoration.

And to lower your electricity and energy costs, look for the ENERGY STAR® label. These products move air 20 percent more efficiently, on average.

Bonus! 3 ways to save on energy costs

Looking to save even further? Once you purchase a fan—or if you already have one—make sure you follow these top three energy-saving tips!

  1. Don’t forget to turn off the fan! Since a fan is mainly useful to circulate air toward your skin, it doesn’t provide any energy savings when you leave the room. Cut the power to save even further on energy costs.
  2. Close blinds in the summer, and open them in winter. Keep the sun from heating up rooms by closing blinds during hot months during hours when the sun is streaming directly in, if possible. And let the light (and warmth) in during colder months.
  3. Buy a programmable thermostat. Keeping your house warmer than usual while you’re at work or away from home (and cooler than usual during winter months) can save up to 10 percent a year in energy costs.

Our local HouseMaster Home Inspection team is here to help you find solutions to your heating and cooling problems and save money on energy costs.

We can inspect your home for energy efficiency, recommend next steps, and do a visual inspection to make sure ceiling fans and other household systems are in good working order.

Ready to cool down? Schedule a home inspection today. We proudly serve the people of Gainesville, Morriston, Archer, Hampton, High Springs, Newberry and neighboring communities.