Welcome to Green Boot Camp

Welcome to Green Boot Camp blog, a 52-week program to help you become a greener you in 2008. This is the companion blog to The Lean Green Family (formerly Suddenly Frugal).

Monday, June 30, 2008

Week 24--Blowing Cool Air Around

Last year I wrote an article for All You magazine on how to green every room in the house--and save money in the process. That article appeared in the magazine just in time for Earth Day, but it never appeared online (or I would provide a link). In researching that article, I learned a lot of interesting things, but there is one piece of advice that really resonates now that it's summer. It's the notion of using ceiling fans to cool the inside of your home without having to lower the thermostat.

Now I realize that on most home makeover shows, the first thing that these designers usually get rid of is the ceiling fan. In fact, I would feel confident says that the designers on "Trading Spaces" are no fans of ceiling fans. (For fun, check out this "Trading Spaces" fan site called No Ceiling Fans. Very cute.)

It's true that some ceiling fans are ugly, but you know what? If you're trying to live a greener life, ceiling fans are quite handy.

For starters if you can change the direction of the blade rotation, you can suck up the hot air during the summer and then push down the hot air during the winter. Also, while a ceiling fan may not actually cool a room, the act of the breeze going across your skin will cool down your body. (The breeze helps to evaporate sweat, which cools you down automatically.) That means that on a hot day you could get away with raising your air conditioning to, say, 74 degrees, and then if you add in a ceiling fan, the room feels way cooler to you.

Some experts estimate that using a ceiling fan can help you save up to $500 a year on heating and cooling costs. Plus, ceiling fans use very little energy, and they don't cost too much either to buy and install. (Look for Energy Star-rated ceiling fans.)

So this week on Green Boot Camp, as the mercury rises outside (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), I'd like you to think about how you can using ceiling fans to keep your home cool. If you've got them, use them.

(Quick note: if it's been awhile since you last turned on a ceiling fan, give it a good dusting before your power it up. If you skip the dusting part, you're going to send dust particles flying around your room.)

If you don't have any ceiling fans, you can use a box or portable fan to help make a room feel cooler. Only problem with a fan that's not overhead--it might start blowing stuff around on you, which could be very frustrating.

Keep in mind that ceiling fans cool the body, not the temperature in the room, so make sure you turn them off when you leave a room. Leaving them on will only waste energy (albeit small amounts of energy) and won't make the room any cooler for when you return.


Greenbaby said...

John C. Ryan's book entitled "Seven Wonders: Everyday Things for a Healthier Planet" has cited the ceiling fans as one of the best everyday items to help stop global warming. After reading that in addition to your blog, I'm inspired to go get a ceiling fan. Thanks!

Debbie said...

Ceiling fans to not have to be ugly, especially if they have pretty light fixtures on them.

If you're feeling really hot, wipe your skin with a wet washcloth and then sit under the fan. Ahhh.