(Edited from AP) Conjure up an image of vacationers sitting on a verandah at a tropical resort, a ceiling fan rotating overhead and supplementing the cooling effect of the ocean breezes.

Well, you don’t have to go to the tropics to realize the benefits or create the ambiance of ceiling fans. They can provide an energy-efficient supplement to air conditioning during these hot summer months.

(Edited from AP) Conjure up an image of vacationers sitting on a verandah at a tropical resort, a ceiling fan rotating overhead and supplementing the cooling effect of the ocean breezes.

Well, you don’t have to go to the tropics to realize the benefits or create the ambiance of ceiling fans. They can provide an energy-efficient supplement to air conditioning during these hot summer months.

The concept is simple. If you use a ceiling fan, you can raise your thermostat and still get the same cooling effect. That means lower electric bills in the long run.

Ceiling fans work by creating a wind-chill effect. As in winter, when the wind makes it feel colder outside, so the wind or motion created by ceiling fans makes you feel cooler in the summer.

“Ceiling fans don’t cool the room, they cool you,” said Maria Vargas, spokeswoman and brand manager for Energy Star, the government program designed to promote energy efficiency. Raising the thermostat by 2 degrees and using a ceiling fan can cut energy costs by about 14 percent over the course of a season, Vargas said.

That makes them a good, low-cost supplement to air conditioning.

“Saving money is something that has never gone out of style,” said John Reeve, manager of Dan’s Fan City in Rockville, Md. “It’s energy efficient and some people like the feeling of air movement,” he said. “It takes the stuffiness out of a room. It could add to the decor.”

Most ceiling fans are reversible. During the summer, the blades should move counterclockwise as you look up at the fan, creating a wind chill. In winter months, they should move clockwise. That helps bring the hot air down from the ceiling and even out the heating. Hunter Fan Co. says you can save 15 percent on your winter heating costs by lowering your thermostat 4 degrees and using a ceiling fan.

When you go to buy a fan, you’ll need to know more than just what style you like, such as the measurement or the length of the blades and the proper motor size to get an efficient air flow.

When you leave a room, turn the fan off to get the maximum energy efficiency. Unlike an air conditioner, the wind-chill effect produced by the ceiling fan is immediate. You don’t lose anything by turning it off when you’re not there.

The energy savings can be even greater if your fan is certified by Energy Star. Although savings depend on the amount of use and the climate, Vargas said Energy Star fans are about 50 percent more efficient than conventional ones, leading to savings of about $25 a year. In 2009, however, these fans cost about $80 more than a conventional one.

Energy Star and Hunter Fan also recommend using a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature during waking hours, or when you are away or sleeping.

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