Are Ceiling Fans Energy-Efficient? (Compared to AC)

Last Updated on October 9, 2022 by Barry Gray

ceiling fan smell

Keeping cool in summer can often be an expensive exercise, especially if you use an air conditioning system in your home. But did you know that ceiling fans are a super-efficient way of circulating air through your home, and they are far more energy-efficient than air conditioners?

Ceiling fans are energy-efficient and can even reduce your airconditioning costs when used in conjunction. Of all the types of cooling fans, the US Dept Of Energy rates ceiling fans as the most efficient, especially those Energy Star rated as they are designed with energy efficiency in mind.

Looking at the various types of cooling options available, we need to compare ceiling fans with airconditioners, whether fixed or portable and see how these silently efficient products stack up.

Ceiling Fans Vs. Airconditioners Power Consumption 

When it comes to cooling, we need to be fair in comparison and realize that a ceiling fan does not cool like an air conditioner does and will therefore use considerably less energy.

A ceiling fan running at maximum may only use about 1/10th of the energy an air conditioner would use. Still, the aircon unit can lower the temperature in a room, while the ceiling fan can only circulate air in that same room.

A 12000 BTU mid wall split unit airconditioner may be rated around 940W- 1200W per hour, while a central air conditioning system can use between 2000W and 5000W per hour.

By comparison, a ceiling fan running at maximum speed would consume about 100W. At a medium speed that would drop to around 40W, remember that no cooling is involved, but the energy consumption is significantly lower!

Ceiling Fan Vs. Air Conditioner Operating Costs 

air conditioner

Using the comparisons above, it is evident that the ceiling fan will cost far less to operate than either a mid-wall air conditioner or central air conditioning. Considering the wattage used by a ceiling fan vs. the air conditioners, you would be saving a great deal of money every month with a ceiling fan as it is simply more energy efficient.

For central air conditioning, the cost per hour is about $0.36. For a window-mounted air conditioner, that cost is about $0.14 per hour, while a ceiling fan would only use about $0.01 PER THREE HOURS OF USE!

From a monthly perspective, this would equate to about $129 per month for the central air conditioning system, about $50 per month for the window AC, and about $1.20 per month for a ceiling fan.

To achieve similar costs per month as a central system, you need 100 ceiling fans and about 48 ceiling fans to match the window air conditioner costs.

Combine A Ceiling Fan And Air Conditioner For Best Results 

Using a ceiling fan in conjunction with an air conditioner can improve the air conditioner’s energy efficiency and allow you to use less power and spend less on energy consumption.

Utilizing the ceiling fan’s greater ability to distribute air through the space means you can turn your air conditioner up by about 4℉ and still achieve the same comfort level!

Every 1-degree increase in temperature on the air conditioner results in a 1% reduction in energy consumption. The ceiling fan will act as a more powerful source of air movement within the space and create a ‘wind-chill’ type effect.

The ceiling fan would be able to blow air at greater velocity through the space than the air conditioner would, so the result would be a more efficient overall cooling and air distribution dynamic when used together.

While ceiling fans working with air conditioners is a recommended solution for optimizing your comfort zone in the house, remember that if you live in very warm or hot areas, your ceiling fan alone will not cool your home, only create airflow through it.

Even though this may be better than nothing, ceiling fans alone will not reduce the temperature inside the room or home by much as there is no direct power cooling involved.

What Makes Ceiling Fans So Energy Efficient

The material and design of the fan blades require little force to drive them as they are light and aerodynamic. This means that with a low-wattage motor, the blades can spin at high speed allowing for a high volume of air to be moved through the space.

During the summer, the blade direction can be made to create a downdraft that will cause the air to blow through the space while in winter, reversing the blades’ direction causes an updraft that can be used to distribute warm air into the space.

Having a ceiling fan with LED lighting means you can remove an existing light fitting and replace it with an energy-efficient ceiling fan instead of having a pedestal or desk fan with a light fitting in the room.

AC Ceiling Fans Vs. DC Ceiling Fans

You also get super-efficient models like those that run from DC rather than AC in the world of ceiling fans. The fan runs directly from the supplied current with an AC fan, while a DC fan would require a transformer to convert the AC to DC.

While they are more expensive than AC fans, DC ceiling fans are far more efficient, often have more speed setting options, and are quieter than AC ceiling fans. A DC ceiling fan could be as much as 70% more energy efficient than an AC Fan.

If you consider how energy-efficient an AC fan is and then drop that by another 70%, you could run that ceiling fan all year for virtually nothing! If you remember, the monthly cost of a ceiling fan in terms of electricity is about $1.20; using a DC ceiling fan would drop that cost to just $0.36 per month or $4.32 PER YEAR!

Are DC ceiling fans efficient? No, they are ULTRA-EFFICIENT, and if you can get your hands on one or indeed one for every room in your house, you would be able to maintain a reasonably comfortable environment for less than $5 per year per fan!


From the examples above, it is indisputable that ceiling fans are energy-efficient and, when combined with air conditioning, can assist in reducing the energy costs of cooling in your home.

For the ultimate in energy efficiency, grab a couple of DC ceiling fans and couple them up with your aircon so you can stay relaxed and comfortable while cutting your energy costs, and that is enough to put a smile on anyone’s face during the hottest of summer days!

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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.