How to Get the Most Out of Your House Fans

June 26, 2015

Roughly 20% of the average American household’s energy expenses go toward their air conditioning bill. Since the average annual electricity bill in the U.S. is about $2,000, that’s a cost of $400. That means that while traditional air conditioning provides a cool comfortable home, it costs a lot of money.      

A cost-effective alternative is using fans. But getting the most out of a fan isn’t as simple as setting one up and flipping a switch. There are a number of tips and tricks to use to get the most out of your fans—and your energy use.


Types of Fans

  • Portable fans
    are basic standing fans which vary in size and can be moved throughout the house to provide targeted airflow. 
  • Window fans,
    as the name implies, can be installed in a window to blow cold air into and hot air out of a house.
  • Ceiling Fans
    are most effective when installed seven to nine feet above the floor and 10 to 12 inches below the ceiling. They can provide significant cooling as well as increase the effects of air conditioning. Switching a ceiling fan to turn counterclockwise and push air toward the ceiling will help draw cool air up towards the ceiling and move it throughout a room.
  • Exhaust fans
    are most commonly installed in kitchens and bathrooms and they work to suck hot moist air out of those rooms and push it out of the house.
  • Whole house fans
    are powerful units that pull air in from open windows and push it through a home’s duct system into the rest of the house.



Portable Fans

Portable fans offer the least options for cooling a house. This is primarily because of their general small size and the fact that they are not often paired with other forms of home ventilation—like an open window—to move air throughout the house. One way to increase their effectiveness is to drape a wet ice-cold towel over them so that they’re blowing particularly cold air into a room.


Window Fans

These are the most cost-effective fans. They cost only about $15 at most stores and can be used in various ways to maximize their cooling potential. Here are a few ideas:

  • Install a window fan on a cool side of the house. If you’re planning to use the window fan to blow air into the house, install it in a window in a wall in the house that is usually cool. This will increase the likelihood that the air the fan is blowing into the house is cool, not hot.
  • Use a window fan to push hot air out of a room. This is only effective when the air outside the house is cooler than the air inside of it. Instead of pointing the fan into a room, point it outside. This works best at night. The technique blows hot air out of rooms and allows the cool outside air into a room.
  • Use two window fans to move cool air through an entire house. Opening windows and doors in a home—particularly on opposite sides of the house—can create ventilation to quickly and effectively cool a house. To do this, install one window fan in a window on one side of the house and another on the other side. The first fan, point into the house so that is blowing cool air into the home. The other fan point out of the house, so it’s blowing hot air outside. This balance of airflow maximizes air movement throughout the house.
  • Drape a wet, ice-cold towel over the fan. Similar to portable fans, this will help the fan blow very cold air throughout the house.


Ceiling Fans

If you live in a temperate climate, a well-used ceiling fan can be effective enough to eliminate the need for air conditioning. Studies have found that if you use air conditioning, a ceiling fan can allow you to increase the thermostat setting by 4˚F without actually feeling an increase in temperature in the house.

  • Invest in a larger fan—like 44-inch or 52-inch fans—whose long blades moves more air than a smaller option.
  • Install the fan eight to nine feet above the floor and 10 to 12 inches below the ceiling. This optimizes how it can move air.
  • Increase the fans velocity at night to move cooler air throughout the house.

Exhaust Fans

Though small and only positioned in a few rooms at most—usually bathrooms and the kitchen—exhaust fans can provide significant cooling benefits. They can move hot—particularly very warm moist air—out of these rooms, decreasing the overall presence of warm air in the house.

In the kitchen, use them when using the oven and stove to suck that hot air outside of the room. In the bathroom, use them while showering and shortly afterward to move the hot moist air from a shower outside the house. 

House Fans

These big, powerful units can range in price from $150 to nearly $1500 when coupled with required professional installation, but they can provide significant cooling.

  • These fans should be fitted to the specific area of your house you want to cool.
  • Once a professional has installed one, make sure ducts are sealed to ensure maximum air movement throughout their house.
  • Open windows throughout the house to avoid a concentrated suction force in a single room.


Effectively using house fans is one of the most cost-effective ways to save on your energy bill in the summer. Learn more tips about how to cool your home without raising costs in the article 7 Ways to Optimize Air Flow”.

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