During the hottest months of the year, keeping the air inside your home or office cool is of the utmost importance. There are many ways to accomplish this, and sometimes it's hard to know which option best suits the needs of your rooms.
The two primary choices are to get a fan or install an air conditioning unit. Fans can also help during cold weather by distributing heat evenly throughout a room. Both have advantages and disadvantages.
All About Fans
There are plenty of options when choosing a fan: Box fans, ceiling fans, and tower fans are all excellent ways to get the air in a room moving. But that's all they do: move air. Fans don't change the temperature of a room - but they cool you off. That's because fans are effective catalysts of evaporation and convection, two natural processes that cool you down.
When you get too hot, you begin to perspire. The sweat evaporates from your skin, taking the heat with it. Fans speed this process up, helping you to cool off faster. Convection refers to the process of heat leaving your body. Fans also boost the effectiveness of this process. For both of these reasons, the right fan can bring you relief during the hottest days of the year.
In addition to these factors, fans are beneficial because of their ability to simply move air. Hot or cold spots can be evened out by running a fan.
Another benefit of fans is the cost-efficiency. Most fans aren't very power-hungry, so they don't cost much to run. The typical ceiling fan might cost a homeowner about $3.50 per month if run for 12 hours per day. A bigger box fan might be closer to about $4.40 per month for the same amount of time per day.
All About AC
The first air conditioner wasn't intended to bring down the temperature of a room; instead, inventor Willis Carrier's goal was to reduce the humidity at his office so the printing paper he used wouldn't warp in the sweaty conditions. People loved the innovation, and have been hooked ever since.
In 2015, 93 percent of newly built U.S. homes came with air conditioning, compared to 80 percent just 20 years earlier. Additionally, air conditioning accounted for 6.2 percent of U.S. homes' energy consumption, growing to as much as 25 percent in some of the warmer states.
Though air conditioning is clearly the more popular choice for cooling off, it's also the more expensive one. Running a 5-ampere air conditioning unit for 12 hours per day for a month costs about $22.50.
The size of AC unit you need depends on how large your room is. For example, a room that's between 150 and 250 square feet might only require a unit that has a capacity of 6,000 BTUs per hour. On the other hand, a room that's much larger, between 1,500 up to 2,000 square feet, will do better with one that has a capacity of 30,000 BTUs per hour.
In the end, the decision to cool off with a fan or an air conditioning unit is a personal one. Air conditioning will reduce the humidity as well as the temperature in your room, but you'll be spending a little bit more in energy costs. A fan won't reduce the temperature, but it can help you feel more comfortable at a more affordable price.