This is my fifth summer without air conditioning. I’m just putting this out there right now, to solidify my good faith as an expert in staying cool without one. Since this summer has been hot as hell—to a dangerous degree– and we can expect future summers to follow, I’m here to tell you about the perks and glories of the humble fan. I had one of my fans simply take it from an ex during a breakup, but these things are relatively cheap, so whether you’re using them instead of AC or to supplement it, you need to get one by any means necessary.
It doesn’t matter if your fans are ill-gotten or bought honestly, they won’t do you as much good in this heat unless you use them strategically. Here’s where you should place them for maximum effectiveness.
Consider the size and shape of your fan
In my small apartment, I have two fans: the one in my living room (which is also my dining room, unfortunately) is a rotating cylinder about one meter high. When running at its highest setting, I can feel its breeze for about eight feet, provided there are no obstructions. The fan in my bedroom is a small circular fan that fits on a bedside table, but its miniature size is deceiving, as I can also feel it from about a meter away.
Certain sizes and styles of fans will work better in certain spaces, according to the fan manufacturing company lasko. In general, if you’re looking to freshen up a living room or family room, go with one of these:
- A pedestal fan
- A wall fan
- A bladeless fan
- An air circulation fan
Although each of them directs the airflow in a slightly different way, they all essentially do the same things, which create a breeze and circulate the air. You want something that fits well in your space and has power behind it. For smaller spaces, like bedrooms, you can use a smaller fan.
Where to place the fan in the room
It is not enough to place a large fan in a large room and a small fan in a small room, however– you also need to find the perfect placement. Remember that cold air sinks and warm air rises, so if you have a high ceiling you provide plenty of room for warm air. The stairs and hallways of these large open spaces will be warmer than the areas below. My “bedroom”, for example, is actually a loft storage space at the top of my studio, which has ceilings that soar 11 feet. Without my little bedroom fan, I would surely have had to deal with some kind of heat-related medical event in my sleep now. You may need multiple fans to cover higher areas, so keep that in mind.
The key to placement is this: set your fan so it faces the wall opposite where most activity in the space takes place. This, according to Lasko, will conduct the air to the surface. It will bounce around, interacting with the rest of the air and cooling the space as a whole.
Fan placement is also more important than type. You might think that a taller fan or a fan on a raised surface is your best bet for cooling a room because it attacks that hot air higher up, but as Lasko points out, a fan lower to the floor can actually picking up the “refreshing thrill” that lingers there and pushing it away. Consider a box fan, which can be placed on the floor Where in a window. Window fans are great for circulating fresh air from outside, but if you’re worried about allergy triggers seeping into your home or just letting outside air in, it’s a good idea. not necessary.
Finally, when determining your placement plan, consider your furniture. A window fan obstructed by curtains does you less good than one that is not covered. Likewise, a floor fan that’s blocked by a couch or table won’t be as useful as a fan that has a clear path to expel air. One thing that box being in front of a fan is a shallow pan of ice creamat produce cold air that your fan can capture and expel (a DIY air conditioner, of sorts).
If you only have one fan or want to use a single fan to circulate air in multiple rooms, your placement strategy will be a little different. Andrew Persily, an engineer specializing in indoors air quality at the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, told our friendds at Quartz that if you have an air conditioner in one room and you want to circulate that cold air in another, you should place your fan in between and make sure the air is blowing into the warmer room. This strategy may work to a lesser extent if you have a large fan in a room and want to use a smaller fan to pass the cooler air it generates into a smaller one nearby.
Strategize your use
The US Department of Energy says that fans do not cool rooms, but rather chill the people inside those rooms. I disagree with this because I observe a noticeable difference between walking into a room where my fan was on and walking into a room where it wasn’t, but that’s kinda off the mark . When reviewing your placement, by the National Renewable Energy Laboratoryit’s important to make sure your fan is actually blowing on the people in the room, so whether it “cools” the room or not people feel a benefit.
However, you must place the fan in a convenient place to turn it off. Leaving a fan on can actually generate heat from the power source, and while that’s minor compared to the heat of a hot summer day, it’s also a waste of energy.