guide

How to buy the perfect energy-efficient fan to keep your house cool

25 June 2021 | Aimee Tweedale

Ah, British Summer Time. It’s glorious, mood-boosting – and, arriving after a long dreary winter, it’s often a shock to the system!

If you’re struggling with the sudden onset of the UK’s latest heatwave, you might be thinking of investing in an electric fan. But what type of fan will cool your whole room? How much electricity will it use – and will it ramp up your bills? And is a fan right for you, or should you invest in an air-conditioner?

A dog cools down with a fan

To figure out the answers to all these questions, dive into our guide to buying the right energy-efficient fan for your home. Plus: we’ve compiled some tips on how to save electricity as you use it!

How to choose the best fan for your home

Fan technology is so advanced these days that when you start shopping, you might feel blown away by all the options. Pun intended!

If you’re overwhelmed by the choices, here are a few pointers to help you figure things out. 

When and where will you use your fan?

First things first: have a think about what you need your fan for. Are you most in need of a breeze when you’re working at your desk during the afternoon? Or are you looking for something that can cool down your whole bedroom while you sleep at night?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you figure out which type of fan is right for you. For example, if you’re looking for a bedroom fan, you might need something powerful yet quiet. Or if you want to use it in multiple rooms, perhaps consider a more portable model. 

How much power does your fan need to have?

Consider how much space you need to keep cool. The bigger the room you’re working with, the more powerful a fan you’ll probably need. 

If it’s a desk fan you’re looking for, on the other hand, you might find that a powerful blast disrupts your workspace. 

Mum and children with fan

What extra features would you like your fan to have?

Let us help you narrow it down. 

1. Quiet setting

Looking for a silent fan that can keep you cool while also letting you get some shut-eye?

Keep an eye for fans that have “quiet” or “silent” in their names. Some have special settings for nighttime, including the option to play white noise that will help you drift to sleep. 

2. Timer

If your priority is getting a low energy fan, you should definitely look for one with a timer. This means you can tell the fan to automatically shut off after it’s done its job for an hour or 2.

That way, there’s no risk of you accidentally leaving the fan on while you’re out and about, or asleep all night.

3. Oscillation

Fans that oscillate (move from side to side) are better for moving air around a whole room, rather than just cooling down one specific spot.

The good news is that most fans, even the cheapest ones, should have this feature!

4. Different speed settings

Being able to select your fan’s speed is important. It means you can make sure your room is actually being cooled, without feeling like you’re in a hurricane!

Again, most fans should come with at least a couple of speeds to choose from. But the more you pay, the more options you’re likely to have. 

5. Remote control

Want to control your fan without having to leave your seat? Many newer models come with a remote control, so you can switch it on and off from your armchair. Bliss. 

6. Heating

It might seem odd to think about it while you’re shopping for a fan that can cool you down, but there are many options on the market that can heat a room as well as chilling it. 

Looking for more heating solutions? Read our guide to buying an energy-efficient heater. 

7. Air purification

For those with a bit more budget, air purifying fans offer a 2-in-1 service. They clean the air in your room, removing any fine particles, while also circulating cool air, just like a regular fan. Good news for those with allergies!

8. Safety

Got small children or pets running around your home?

A bladeless fan, or one with extra safety measures, might be the right one for you. This will save you worrying about any fingers or paws getting caught in the spinning blades!

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Types of home cooling fan 

Pedestal fans

This one is the classic fan. It’s a freestanding floor fan, and usually comes with an adjustable stand, and the ability to oscillate, so it cools the whole room. It’s basic, but does the job effectively.

  • Pros of pedestal fans: they’re easy to use, best at cooling big rooms, and often cheap, too!
  • Cons of pedestal fans: can be noisy, and take up more space than a slim tower fan

Tower fans

Tower fans have boomed in popularity in recent years. 

Unlike the typical pedestal fan, these are long and slim, like the tower they take their name from. This means they can be easily slotted into any room without taking up too much space. Many of them also come with state-of-the-art extra features.

  • Pros of tower fans: tower fans are sleek, safe, and quiet, and they usually offer more features than a pedestal fan.
  • Cons of tower fans: their cool design (if you’ll excuse the pun) means that tower fans can be pricier. And they’re also not as good at cooling large rooms.

Desk fans

Working from home? Then this one’s for you. 

Desk fans are small versions of fans that give just enough cooling power to feel a breeze on your face while you work. 

  • Pros of desk fans: they’re cheap and cheerful, and their compact size means you can move them anywhere
  • Cons of desk fans: a desk fan will only cool a small area, not a whole room

Floor fans

Floor fans are like pedestal fans, but instead of having a long, adjustable stand, the fan actually sits on the floor. Getting one of these going will make you feel like a pop star in concert, with the wind blowing back your hair!

  • Pros of floor fans: cool air sits lower to the ground, so by having a lower fan, you’re moving colder air around the room – this makes them really effective!
  • Cons of floor fans: the design is not recommended if you have pets or children, as the spinning blades are close to the ground

Ceiling fans

Ceiling fans can be a stunning design feature of a room all year round. Sometimes doubling up as a light fixture, they’re a way of sending a light breeze around an entire room easily. 

One other point to note: surprisingly, they also help heat your home in winter. That’s because they can recirculate warm air trapped under the ceiling in a heated room!

  • Pros of ceiling fans: they blend into the design of your room, and don’t take up any floor space 
  • Cons of ceiling fans: they’re not typically adjustable or portable like other fans on this list
Man installing a ceiling fan at home

Bladeless fans

If you’re a technology fan, then you’ll want a high-tech fan.

Bladeless fans, sometimes called air multipliers, are the most innovative fans on the market. They’re a bit like vacuums that work the opposite way. Instead of sucking in air, they blow it out into the room. 

The concept was first tested by Toshiba in the early ‘80s. But British scientist James Dyson (of hoover fame) was the first to invent a bladeless fan for consumers in 20091. Today, Dyson still dominates the market for this particular type of air-cooler!

  • Pros of bladeless fans: they’re safe, quiet, and super-effective
  • Cons of bladeless fans: you’ll have to fork out more money than for a traditional fan with blades

Is there a fan that blows cold air?

Fans don’t produce cold air themselves. They simply move the air around a room. This creates the illusion that the room has cooled down, because you feel cooler in it. This is because the breeze causes moisture to evaporate as it travels over your skin, helping you feel refreshed. 

Air-conditioners (or air coolers), meanwhile, suck in heat while blowing cold air into a room. This actually changes the temperature. You can sometimes buy multi-functional fans that also have built-in air conditioners or coolers. 

Air-conditioners tend to be more expensive – both in terms of the upfront and the running costs. In fact, fans use roughly around 1% of the electricity that air-conditioning units use. That means you could run a fan for 24 hours, and use the same amount of power you’d use to turn on your air-conditioner for 15 minutes2

But if you’re dealing with temperatures over 35C, a fan might not be enough. Read our guide to finding an energy-efficient air-conditioner that won’t harm the environment (or your bank account).

Does putting ice in front of a fan work?

Want to get the cooling effect of an air-conditioner, without raising your electricity bills?

Try an ice fan. It won’t be quite as effective as an air-conditioning unit, but it will add a cooling effect to your fan!

Simply place a bowl of ice and freezing cold water in front of your fan. The motion of the blades will send tiny droplets of icy water all around the room, which will feel glorious when it hits your skin!

If you’re looking for more ideas of how to survive the heat this summer, read this guide to 18 essential ways to cool down your house

How much electricity does a fan use?

In general, fans are pretty energy-efficient, and much cheaper to run than air-conditioners. Exactly how much electricity your fan gobbles up will depend on what type of fan you have. Check the wattage on your fan to be sure. 

According to research by This is Money, most household fans use between 25 and 75 watts.

This means running a fan costs between £0.004 and £0.012 per hour. For a whole week’s use at 12 hours a day, this wouldn’t add more than £1 to your bills3. You might think that’s not an amount worth sweating over!

5 top tips for using your fan efficiently

  1. Use the timer setting: tempting as it may be to leave the fan running all night, once you’re asleep, you’re less likely to need it. Save yourself some energy by using the timer to automatically shut it off after a couple of hours.
  2. Don’t leave it on standby: just like other household appliances, fans can use a small amount of vampire power when left plugged in, so switch them off when not in use. 
  3. Use a lower speed: naturally, choosing a lower speed setting will mean using less power.
  4. Position the fan(s) strategically: you can create a satisfying cross-breeze through the house by placing a fan so it points out of the window. That might sound weird, but it works by pulling cooler air in from outside, and pushing the warmer air out! You could enhance the effect by placing another fan that faces into the room. Find out more about this technique in our guide to keeping your house cool this summer
  5. Keep the fan clean: because your fan circulates air, it’ll pick up all the dust and other particles floating around the room. To keep it working efficiently, it’s important to give it a clean every now and then.
A man cools down with a fan on a hot day

A few of the best energy-efficient fans to cool down your room

Here’s a selection of some of the most energy-efficient fans you can buy for your home. 

This list was compiled with information from the good people at TopTen initiative, which reports on the most energy-efficient home appliances. They crunched the numbers to find out how much power each household fan uses, (and how much you’d likely spend on powering it with electricity over the next 15 years!).

Best tower fan: Tristar VE-5905

This slim white fan will keep your whole room cool while slotted inconspicuously in a corner. It comes with 3 speed settings, and a handy timer that can be set for up to 120 minutes. This makes it doubly energy-efficient – because you’ll never forget to turn it off!

At 30W, it’s got all the power it needs to keep you chilled, without guzzling as much energy as some other tower fans.

Find out more about the Tristar VE-5905.

**Best pedestal fan: Honeywell HS-216E4**

Honeywell are one of the most trusted brands in the fan business, and TopTen ranks their sturdy pedestal fan as one of the cheapest to run. 

Over 15 years of use, it could cost as little as £38 in electricity bills. That’s a little over £2.50 a year. Worth it, to save you from 15 sweaty summers!

Find out more about the Honeywell HS-216E4.

Best bladeless fan: Dyson AM07

If you’ve got the cash to splurge, this bladeless fan from Dyson is a stylish way to make sure that pure, cool air is circulating around your entire room. 

Find out more about the Dyson AM07.

Best ceiling fan: CasaFan Eco Genuino 152

Looking for a more permanent fixture to bring some movement to your lounge?

It’s a bit more expensive to install, but this energy-efficient ceiling fan has a wattage as low as 4W (and up to 29W). That means it could keep you refreshed for as little as around £1.70 per year. 

Find out more about the CasaFan Eco Genuino 152.

Best desk fan: AEG VL 5528

This classic black desk fan is astonishingly cheap to run. According to TopTen, it should only cost you an average of £17 on your electricity bills over the next 15 years. 

It’s got 2 speed settings, and comes with the option to mount it on the wall if you’re out of desk space.

Find out more about the AEG VL 5528.

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Sources and references:

1 https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/6377644/Dyson-fan-was-it-invented-30-years-ago.html

2 https://www.reviewed.com/home-outdoors/features/air-conditioners-vs-fans-which-is-right-for-your-home

3 https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/how-much-electricity-fans-use-12973554

4 100% of the renewable electricity we sell is backed by renewable certificates (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs)). See here for details on Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates and how these work. A proportion of the electricity we sell is also purchased directly from renewable generators in the UK.

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