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Fans can really keep you cool, or can cost you plenty

Image of spinning ceiling fan
Ceiling fans are great because they do a wonderful job circulating air and making you feel cooler. Just remember to switch them to rotate in a counter clockwise direction during the summer.

Because fans cool you (and not the room), use them strategically

The general rule of thumb with a fan is that if you're not home, or not in the room, turn it off. Oh, and like so many appliances out there, it's always better to go ENERGY STAR®.

Use your fans strategically and you can probably stay quite comfortable, even without an air conditioner, this summer.

We're talking about fans this month in part because July's Team Power Smart contest question is answered right here. We're giving away $100 Rona gift certificates to two lucky team members this month, and Rona is offering a variety of product savings throughout July. See below for details.

Technically, a fan may actually warm a room

There's no doubt that air movement in a room makes you more comfortable, but it's not because the temperature in the room is getting cooler. It's because we humans sweat – yes, even you – and as moving air causes evaporation, water on your skin cools.

If you want to geek out on this a little, check out the cool post from Wired magazine that actually tested whether fans – portable and ceiling fans – cool a room. With infrared cameras, and a nice little experiment involving putting a fan in a box and measuring the temperature, they demonstrated that fans only move the air.

Wait a minute... a fan can cool a room

This is where the strategy comes in. If you properly place a portable fan near a window, in the cooler evening or morning hours, you can draw cooler outside air into your home. This can be the most effective way to cool your home just in time for when you most need it – when you're trying to get some sleep.

This is all about timing, as you don't want your windows open when the outside air is actually warmer than it is in your home. Consider buying an indoor-outdoor thermometer to determine when the outside temperature drops below the inside temperature. That's when opening windows and doors, and placing fans near those openings, can pay off.

But it doesn't hurt to leave fans on all the time, does it?

Again, fans running in rooms with no one in them are a waste of electricity, and that waste translates to your BC Hydro bill. If you ran three 75-watt floor fans in your home, each an average of 12 hours a day for July and August, it would cost you about $16 in energy use. But use those strategically, for three hours a day on average, and it would cost you just $4 for those two months.

Keep the heat out in the first place (and other cooling tips)

Here are a few other cooling tips to help you stay comfortable, and sleep well, through the summer:

  • Use the right fan for the right task. Ceiling fans and oscillating pedestal fans work best in larger bedrooms and living rooms. Alternatively, portable fans and table fans are best suited to cool down smaller rooms and your personal space.
  • If you have ceiling fans in your home, switch them to rotate in a counter clockwise direction during the summer. This will create an artificial "wind chill" effect that helps you feel comfortable when temperatures rise.
  • Used properly, drapes and blinds can make a significant dent in your cooling costs. On sunny days, close drapes to block out the sun and heat. If you use blinds, tilt the slats upward so that they reflect both light and heat out away from your home.
  • If you're making changes to your outdoor space, install shades, awnings, and plant shade trees along sun-facing windows to help prevent overheating from the sunlight.

July savings from our retail partner RONA

Don't forget to enter this month's Team Power Smart contest for a chance to win one of two $100 RONA gift cards. And if you're not a member of the team, take a couple minutes to join now.

RONA and RONA Home&Garden is currently offering savings on at least a dozen different fans this month, from small table fans to floor fans, tower fans and even fans designed to sit on a window ledge and suck in that cooler outside air. RONA has a variety of options for ceiling fans, with the option to have them installed.

Instant discounts this month at RONA and RONA Home&Garden:

  • $2 on select weather-stripping
  • $5 on select thermostats
  • $5 on select showerheads