Hit the Ceiling
Installing an energy-efficient ceiling fan increases airflow—and reduces cooling costs.
By now you're probably starting to realize just how much that cranked-up AC cost you this summer. Pretty disturbing, huh? To lower next year's bills—and keep your house cooled down during these final days of summer—how about installing a nice, energy-efficient ceiling fan? Not only do these tried-and-true devices generate a comforting breeze throughout your home, when used correctly, they can also save you as much as 25 percent on energy bills.
When shopping for your fan, look for Energy Star-labeled models. They cost about the same as their conventional counterparts, but A) they use 20 to 50 percent less energy; and B) their light fixtures produce 70 percent less heat than conventional fixtures. Companies such as Casablanca, Emerson, Hunter, and Hampton Bay all offer such models with a variety of finishes and light fixtures.
Hampton Bay's version, the Windward II, was actually developed by the Florida Solar Energy Center, a state-supported renewable energy and efficiency research and certification institute. Sold exclusively at Home Depot, it costs $149, and features a nice brushed-metal finish, and aerodynamically designed blades (modeled after aircraft propellers) that increase airflow by 40 percent. Housed in a frosted white dome, the dimmable 36-watt fluorescent bulb runs for 10,000 hours before you'll need to change it. Instead of pulling a chain, you operate the Windward via a remote control with built-in timer. The fan speed adjusts based on the room's temperature, and an optional 360-degree infrared motion sensor stimulates the fan when you enter the room and shuts it off when you leave.