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When the Heat Is on, Turn On a Fan

Power Lines

April 21, 2001|LYNN O'DELL

California's energy crisis is hitting home. Electricity bills are rising, and people are looking for ways to cut consumption and costs. This is the 15th in a series of energy-saving tips. Previous stories can be found at


People searching for cheap cooling this summer may consider the slow-turning, ceiling-mounted paddle fan, long a staple of Southern living.

Ceiling fans don't really lower the temperature. But the breeze blowing across your body makes a room feel at least four degrees cooler, according to the California Energy Commission.

That's enough to extend the normal summer human comfort range of 72 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit to 82 degrees.

If you set your air conditioner at 80 degrees instead of 78, you can save 14% on cooling costs by using ceiling fans, the Florida Solar Energy Commission found. Air conditioning set four degrees higher than the usual level and augmented by ceiling fans would cut cooling costs by 32%.

If you are really into tightening your energy expenses, try the latest twist on a ceiling fan--the Hampton Bay Gossamer Wind Series Windward II, which resembles an airplane propeller. It has twisted, rather than flat, blades that move up to 40% more air than conventional paddle fans with the same energy consumption, according to Tien Lowe, sales manager for the Florida-based manufacturer, King of Fans.

Costing $198 at Home Depot, the fan comes with an energy-saving fluorescent light and, for gadget lovers, an LCD thermostatic remote control that adjusts the fan speed according to the room temperature.

The brushed steel fan's low speed equals the same air flow as the medium setting on traditional fans.

Using ceiling fans will cost you more if you don't set back the thermostat and if you leave them running in unoccupied rooms, as most people do, studies show.

For more information: California Energy Commission, http://www.


* Send your questions or suggestions regarding energy use to Home Design, Los Angeles Times, Orange County edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626, or send e-mail to Please include your name and phone number.

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