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It costs only three tenths of one cent per hour ($0.0022) to operate an energy efficient ceiling fan such as the Emerson Midway Eco (shown to the left) and about 3 to 5 times that for typical ceiling fans that are less efficient. Even the worst energy guzzling ceiling fans on the market will only cost you less than 2 cents per hour to run. These costs are virtually negligable, which explains why ceiling fans are such a great energy saving alternative to air conditioning.
Calculating the cost to operate a ceiling fan is a simply a matter of knowing how many watts the fan uses and multiplying that by the cost per kWh of electricity you are being charged by your utility company. This will give you the cost per hour to run the fan. The range of wattage between various brands and models of ceiling fans (without lights) is anywhere from 12 watts to 120 watts per hour. Based on that, here is how much it would cost to operate the most and least energy consuming ceiling fans on the market if either fan was left running 24 hours a day for an entire year. No one is likely ever to use their ceiling fan even remotely close to that many hours, but I am taking these calculations to an extreme just to show how cheap it is to run even the worst fan.
So, the most it can cost you to run a ceiling fan without lights is about $126 per year, which is equal to about $10 per month and the least it will cost you is $19 per year, which comes out to just $1 per month...which in either case, is amazingly cheap.
The above calculations did not consider having a light fixture on the ceiling fan. The wattage of the light fixture can have a much greater impact on the cost than the motor. When calculating the cost to operate a fan with the lights on, you must add the wattage of the lights to that of the motor. The range of wattage for a ceiling fan light fixture is anywhere from 13 watts to 190 watts. FYI: Ceiling fans used to have up to 300 watts with a 5-light fixture using 60 watt bulbs, but the EPA began inforcing regulations that now limit the maximum wattage of the light to 190 watts. Here are the calculations if you leave you fan running with the lights on 24 hours a day for a full year:
The numbers for fan #4 above are those from the Emerson Midway Eco, which is the most efficient ENERGY STAR qualified ceilign fan on the market that comes with a light. The light fixture built-in to the Eco fan uses 4-13 watt Compact Fluorescent bulbs for just 52 Watts that is equivalent to over 100 watts of incandescent light. Add the 18 watts the fan motor uses for a total of 70 Watts. Fan #6 could be any number of less efficient ceiling fans with a light fixture that uses the maximim allowed wattage (190 watts).
So the conclusion I am hoping that you will make here is that the light fixture you choose for your ceiling fan is what will cost you the most in the long run. Keep in mind that these estimates above are for operating each ceiling fan 24 hours a day for 365 days...so you can cut those numbers by about 75% or more to come to a more realistic usage.
Operational Cost Calculator(Instructions/Details)
Basic Help: Our operational cost calculator estimates how much it will cost to operate the Vaxel Lighting Log Cabin ceiling fan. By default, the calculator assumes that you will leave your fan running 24 hours a day for the entire year (which is not very likely to be accurate), so you will want to change the hours and days to be more in line with how often you think you will use the fan. The calculator also defaults to the average cost per kWh of electricity in the USA. You can change this to use the average cost of electricity in your state, although this may vary widely from city to city. For the most accurate calculation, manually enter the actual cost/kWh shown on your utility bill. The wattage of the fan is already included (if it is known), but you can change it if you wish to see how the wattage affects the cost.
Fans with lights: Calculations are performed without lights by default. If you add a light fixture to the fan, you can add the wattage of the fixture to the wattage of the fan to perform calculations with the lights on. In some cases, when a light fixture of known wattage is included with the fan, the option to calculate with or without lights will show automatically. The light fixture on a ceiling fan almost always uses substantially more electricity than the fan motor, so it is very important to take that into account when comparing the overall operational cost between various ceiling fans
CFM -vs- Efficiency: CFM is KING! It is more important to buy a fan with higher CFMs than it is to buy a fan that uses less electricity. The highest wattage consumed by the most energy guzzling ceiling fan on our website is about 120 watts. So if you input 120 as the fan watts and run our calculator, you will see that it still costs less than 2 cents per hour to operate the most energy guzzling ceiling fan in most states. You will get more savings with a higher CFM fan than a lower Wattage fan because if your fan moves more air you will be able to raise your thermostat to a higher degree. Raising your thermostat by 10 degrees can save you up to 40% on your cooling bills. Choosing a less powerful fan because it uses less electricity can be the worst mistake you can make because it will not cool you off enough to allow you to raise your thermostat to a high enough level without becoming uncomfortable. This is why CFM is so much more important to consider than Wattage.
When comparing fans of different sizes with varying CFMs, it is important to consider the wind speed in order to know which fans will make you feel cooler. Read more about Ceiling Fan Wind Speed here!
The average kWh by state used by our calculator is derived from information published by the US Government Department of Energy as of May 2009. Your actual cost may differ from this. Again, refer to your utility bill for your most recent kWh cost.
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