The Electrical Usage of Ceiling Fans

Whenever you leave a ceiling fan on for a full day, you might think that you have used a lot of electricity to operate it, however, ceiling fans are incredibly energy efficient. To maximize the energy savings, you can upgrade older ceiling fans with newer, energy star, models. Fans with a light bulb do have a higher energy consumption rate than just a fan itself, however, compared to an air conditioner, fans are still the cheapest cooling device you can use.

The Mathematics Behind the Cost of a Fan

The calculations to determine how much it costs to run a ceiling fan are not too complicated.

If you are able to determine how many watts your fan uses, be it on a label on the fan or searching for the model online, you can quickly find out how much your fan costs you to run, per hour.

First, take the number of watts that your fan operates at and multiply that by the cost of a kilowatt hour your electric company charges. This is typically shown on your most recent electric bill. Then, divide that number by 1,000, to convert the calculation from watts to kilowatt hours. This is what it costs to run your fan for one hour. If you leave your fan on for eight hours a day, multiply the kilowatt cost by 8 hours and you have the exact amount that it costs to run your ceiling fan daily.

Now, if you have a light bulb on your fan, you need to calculate the amount of electricity that the light itself uses, with the same formula, and add that to the kilowatt cost of the fan itself. If you only have the light on for two hours a day, you would only multiply the final figure by two, rather than eight, before adding the numbers together.

Fans generally use between 10 and 120 watts of electricity to operate. The larger the fan, the more it costs. If you have an industrial sized fan, it will use far more watts than a small table top fan. Total wattage depends on the size and energy efficiency.   

Light Bulbs typically use 40-100 watts, however, if you use LED light bulbs, the wattage may be only 16 watts, with the same brightness. Therefore, energy saving lights make a huge difference when you take into consideration the number of hours a day we keep the lights on.

cheap electricity bills

Fan Cooling Versus Air Conditioner Cooling

Fans are designed to circulate air. When the air moves, it helps to keep you drier, which helps you feel cooler. They don’t actually change the temperature of a room substantially, however.

Air conditioners do reduce the temperature of the air, helping to keep you and the room cool.

Depending on the temperature inside your home, the benefit of a fan verses and air conditioner is determined by the cost to run each device and your comfort level. As previously mentioned, fans run on up to 120 watts. Air conditioners, even small ones, typically use 750 watts. The larger residential units can use well over 3,500 watts. That’s a huge difference in electricity usage.

However, if you cannot tolerate high temperatures or you have a medical condition that makes breathing when its warm challenging, you may need to find the most energy efficient air conditioner and pay the extra money for a cooler living environment.

Fans use a very low amount of electricity. When comparing fans to air conditioners, a large fan is still a fraction of the cost to run as a small air conditioning unit. That’s why we love ceiling fans so much. Make sure you compare various models and get one with the low energy requirement you need.


  • I have a ceiling/light fan made in 1983. If I changed to a $50.00 model made 2021,would I save electricity?

  • My husband and I are almost 80 yrs old, our bill has gone from about $160 to $500, we use all the same elec. Appliances, we have no air conditioning and only use house fans, we don’t understand since this is a real hardship on us. It seems the almighty dollar is all that matters ,not the help for the people.


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