Q. I think that adding a ceiling fan or two would improve our comfort and save a few bucks on our electric bills. I want unique-looking fans instead of the standard "big box" variety. What is best?
A. Adding a few stylish ceiling fans will do more than just save a few bucks your utility bills. By increasing the comfort level with ceiling fans, you can set the air conditioner thermostat two or three degrees higher. In many homes, this can save over $100 in the summer alone.
Although all ceiling fans look great hanging in big box home centers or lighting showrooms, there are significant differences in quality. A cheap one will quickly begin to wobble and hum after you install it.
This is particularly noticeable on medium or high speeds most often used in the summer.
There are new, unique-looking ceiling fans available that are also efficient. Some use natural palm, woven bamboo or wicker in highly pitched oval blades. For effective cooling with high ceilings, a unique style, with filigree trim, uses two of these fans mounted on a horizontal axis opposing each other.
Decorative tall pedestal ceiling fans, mounted on an ornate wrought iron base, can be moved where needed. Some high-tech styled fans have an airfoil-shaped blades with a built-in halogen light. For your kid's room, choose one that looks like a soccer ball or an airplane.
Fan blades: Other than price, the pitch of the fan blades is a good indicator of quality. Steeply pitched blades move more air at a slower fan speed. This requires a heavier, more powerful motor. With this massive motor running at a slower speed, hum and wobble are diminished.
Another feature to evaluate quality and effectiveness, for both summer and winter use, is the range of speeds. A larger range is better as is a very slow low speed. In the winter, you will use the lowest speed. Three speed settings are adequate, but some offer four or five.
For use in a room that gets chilly in the winter, install a ceiling fan with an optional built-in ceramic heater. For rooms with dust or odor problems, consider using a fan with special charcoal/air filter blades.
Remote controls: Hand-held programmable controls are convenient. You can program the speed to automatically change as the room temperature changes. For bedrooms, a sleep mode automatically reduces the fan speed soon after you fall asleep.
When installing a ceiling fan, the distance from the floor is important for comfort. For a typical room height, use the short downrod packaged with the fan. For 10-foot ceilings, use a one-foot downrod. For 12-foot ceilings, use a two-foot downrod and for 15-foot ceilings, use a five-foot downrod.
XWrite for Update Bulletin No. 487 which gives a buyer's guide of 11 manufacturers of high-quality, standard and air cleaner ceiling fans listing unique styles, pitch/number of blades, speeds, sizes, controls and features. Please send $3 and a business-size SASE to James Dulley, The Vindicator, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45244. For an instant download, visit James Dulley online at www.dulley.com.