Lighted ceiling fans offer a lot of bang for the buck. Their gentle, cooling breezes can transform a room that feels like a jail cell on a muggy tropical isle into paradise. What's more, they're easy to install. Replacing an overhead light fixture with a fan should take less than a day.
A ceiling fan can also slash energy consumption and save you money throughout the year. By blowing air downward in warm weather, the fan allows you to turn up the thermostat on your air conditioner and cut cooling bills as much as 35 percent, according to U.S. Department of Energy studies.
Reversing the fan motor during the heating season blows air upward and forces trapped heat down from the ceiling. The result is that you can lower the thermostat and trim your heating bill up to 10 percent. That's a significant benefit considering this winter's dramatic rise in fuel costs.
CHOOSING A FAN
Ceiling fans come in dozens of styles, with or without lights, in various painted and polished-metal surfaces. While prices vary widely, you usually get what you pay for. Bargain-priced fans usually are no bargain; they can be noisy, wobbly contraptions that last about as long as a freshly cut rose. Expect to pay $150 to $250 for a good-quality fan with a light.
Before buying one, match fan size to room size. Choose a 32-in.-dia. unit for rooms up to 64 sq. ft. Move up to a 42-in. fan for spaces up to 144 sq. ft., a 44-in. model for a 225-sq.-ft. room and a 52-in. device for rooms 400 sq. ft. or larger. We chose Hunter Fan's Integra Plus (Model 25884, $299). The 52-in., five-blade fan has a three-speed reversible motor, wireless remote-control switch and built-in light. It also features a bright-brass finish and switchable hardwood-veneer blades (rosewood on one side, oak on the other) and is backed by a 20-year warranty.
The step-by-step installation covered here, which replaces an existing light fixture, is similar to that for other fans. But be sure to read the instructions that come with the model you buy.