How Much Does It Cost to Run a Ceiling Fan? (vs. AC)

Last Updated on October 9, 2022 by Barry Gray

why does your ceiling fan wobble

The number of days in the year when the Mercury rises above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) is getting more every year. Whether this is due to higher solar activity or human-caused climate change is immaterial. For a peaceful night’s sleep, we need a temperature around seventy-four degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius).

A window-mounted air conditioner costs $0.14 per hour to run and will consume 1.2kW per hour. A central air conditioner is more efficient and will cool many rooms simultaneously but will cost $0.36 per hour and consume 3 kW per hour. A ceiling fan uses 30W per hour and costs $0.033 per hour to run.

The impact of air conditioning and cooling fans will have the following effect on your monthly utility bill:

  • Mini-split or window-mounted air conditioner will add $50
  • Central air conditioning will add $130
  • A ceiling-mounted fan will add $1.20 

The difference in cost between air conditioners and ceiling fans is not comparable as they do not provide the same amount of comfort. Ceiling fans should be used in conjunction with air conditioning to make the AC system more effective and potentially lower the power bill.

Let’s look at how ceiling fans and AC systems can be deployed to make life bearable during those sweltering and humid days.

Ceiling Fans Can Be Used To Assist Air Conditioners 

I always get sick when running the AC all night during summer nights. The AC tends to dry the air out too much and dries out my throat and nose cold during the night.

I have found that using the AC to bring the room temperature down to a comfortable level before going to bed and only using the ceiling fan to circulate the cool air over me gently works best to help me fall asleep.

I don’t wake up with a dry throat, and if the heat builds up again during the night, I will switch on the AC again to run for an hour or two. During spring and fall, the temperatures are not so high as to need the air conditioning, and just the air movement of the ceiling fan is sufficient.

The ceiling fans run very quietly and keep the mosquitos and other bugs quiet at night. I am trying to condition myself not to live and work in an artificially conditioned atmosphere every day. 

The body is designed to regulate its temperature and keep its temperature at a stable 98 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius). When the ambient temperature is at or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the body needs some assistance to keep cool.

Proper hydration is essential to allow the body to generate sweat and disperse the body heat away from the skin. Using a fan to create air movement over your body will significantly assist in evaporating the sweat from your skin and the resultant cooling.

Your skin is the body’s largest organ and is essential to help regulate your temperature and the healthy functioning of your organs. Not even a cooling fan can provide enough relief in hot and humid weather. We need to employ modern energy-efficient air conditioning systems to bring relief.

Air conditioning of living and working spaces has become essential to maintain productivity during the hottest and most humid times of the day. The conditioned air can be distributed effectively when used in conjunction with ceiling fans.

How To Let The Sun Keep You Cool For Free

central AC

The trend of running the air conditioner and cooling fans from a dedicated solar power system is becoming more popular in sunny climates with an abundance of sunlight and a hot and humid environment.

A central air conditioning system consumes 3 kW of energy per hour and can be run on an off-grid solar inverter and a battery bank linked to a solar panel array. At a saving of $130 per month on your utility bill, you can expect to get a total payback in five to seven years.

Your solar system will be good to run your air conditioning for thirty years before needing to be replaced. The solar power system will likely outlast the air conditioner by at least fifteen years. It is an intelligent way to run your AC full time without feeling guilty about CO2 emissions or a hefty utility bill.

The battery bank is also an ideal direct current (DC) power source to drive all your ceiling-mounted fans. These fans are powered by DC motors which are more powerful, efficient, and run quietly.

The combination of ceiling fans to provide gentle air movement and the air conditioning system to lower the air temperature in circulation inside the house will make for optimal comfort during the hottest of days.


Comparing a ceiling fan’s energy consumption and cost with an air conditioner can be misleading. A ceiling fan only has one electric DC motor. In contrast, an air conditioner has an electric motor running the compressor unit to help circulate the coolant and an electric motor in the air delivery unit to blow the cool air into the room.

Most of the energy demand of an air conditioner is from the compressor unit that has to pressurize the cooled gas from the heat exchanger back into a liquid for the evaporation and heat extraction cycle to begin.

The external heat exchanger may also have a fan to force cool air over the cooling fins and help with the heat dissipation. The difference is that an air conditioner can regulate the air inside a room to be twenty-five degrees lower than the ambient air outside.

A cooling fan can only move the hot air over your body and assist with evaporating sweat from the skin. This can bring mild relief at best but will do nothing to reduce the temperature and humidity in the room.

The cooling setting of the air conditioner can be dialed down a bit when it is used in conjunction with ceiling-mounted cooling fans. The fans will help disperse the cool air throughout the room and cause a gentle movement of cool air over your skin.

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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.