Nov 12, 2013
By Amanda Osborne, American Lighting Association, Whitney Hale
As the Bluegrass begins to heat up, many Kentuckians will be taking refuge inside near air conditioning and ceiling fans. Ceiling fans have several important qualities that are necessary for every home including cooling purposes. Fans are also useful with virtually every type of décor and are indispensable options for homeowners looking to cut utility bills. Here are a few tips to cool down this summer and save a little cash from University of Kentucky's own Joe Rey-Barreau and the American Lighting Association.
In many climates, ceiling fans are a necessary part of the household, and if you are in need of a new ceiling fan, it's easy to get lost in the many different styles and options available. These tips on how to use ceiling fans, integrate them into a decorating scheme, and size them specifically for your rooms from lighting professionals can be helpful in choosing the best ceiling fan for you and your home.
Three Primary Purposes of Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans serve three primary purposes; the first is, of course, air movement. "In summer, ceiling fans create a 'wind chill' effect that makes the room feel six to eight degrees cooler than the actual ambient temperature," said Rey-Barreau, AIA (American Institute of Architects), IES (Illuminating Engineering Society), and associate professor at the UK School of Interior Design. "In winter, the direction of the blade movement can be set to a counter-clockwise direction, which will help to move the hotter air at the ceiling toward the edges of the room and then downward. This helps to distribute the heated air more efficiently."
This is the key to consumers' interest in — and need for — ceiling fans. "That air movement can help reduce heating and air conditioning bills in homes," said Maria Scutaro, president of Murray Feiss Lighting/Monte Carlo Fan Company.
Manufacturers have also adapted ceiling fans to fit the smallest of spaces — even in closets — with a single blade and minimal motor that leaves the ceiling fan able to hug the ceiling. In addition, ceiling fans are a decorative element and focal point for the interior design — a big change from the 1990s. "There is an unlimited range of fan styles and designs ... as well as fans that are part of a 'family' of lighting fixtures," Rey-Barreau said.
Finally, as a light source, ceiling fans "can range from a night light to ambient light to a fully directed light source," said Scutaro. "LED technology is bringing light and additional energy efficiency to fans."
Much like the Energy Star label gives homeowners guidance about appliances that will save on utilities, ceiling fans can also be rated Energy Star compliant. To do that, those ceiling fans must use efficient motors and advanced blade design to meet or exceed minimum requirements for airflow efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Energy Star ceiling fans also carry three warranties: a minimum 30-year on the motor, a one-year on other components, and two-year on lighting. "Lighting for Energy Star-qualified fans also uses efficient compact fluorescent sources that use two-thirds less energy and produce 70 percent less heat than incandescent bulbs," said Rey-Barreau.
Locations for Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans used indoors in protected spaces differ from those used in semi-protected or exterior spaces. An "indoor use" rating means a fan can be used only indoors; those rated "damp use" can be used outdoors if in a covered spot, such as a porch. An "outdoor use" rating means the fan can be used in a location where it will be exposed directly to water, such as over a patio that is located underneath a deck.
"The better quality fans do not cost much more than the most inexpensive fans," said Rey-Barreau. "A consumer should purchase a fan that has a good motor, and that is energy efficient. Buying a very inexpensive fan can be problematic in terms of performance."
Sizing Basics for Ceiling Fans
In order for a ceiling fan to effectively heat and cool a space, it must be sized for the square footage of the room. Use these measurements as guidelines:
An architect and lighting designer with more than 25 years of experience as a design professional, Rey-Barreau is an associate professor in the UK College of Design, where he has won numerous teaching awards.
Rey-Barreau has worked on more than 1,000 projects as either the principal lighting designer and/or architect. These projects have included residential, offices, government buildings, stores, industrial, warehouse, educational and health care facilities. Since 1995, he has served as an education consultant for the American Lighting Association and has developed hundreds of lighting education courses. He has also presented more than 500 continuing education programs in the past 20 years.
The American Lighting Association, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, is the trade organization of the residential lighting industry in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. Members are lighting manufacturers, showrooms, independent manufacturers’ representatives, designers and other industry associates who work to promote the sale and proper use of quality lighting products in the home.