The Department Of Energy (DOE) is currently accepting comments from the public regarding proposed regulations that will require ceiling fan manufacturers to increase the efficiency of ceiling fans even though they already use very little energy. Ceiling fans can reduce your energy consumption significantly if you use your air conditioning less, which makes them one of the most energy saving choices in a home. These new regulations will cause the price of ceiling fans to skyrocket while decreasing the selection of decorative styles you have to choose from. Higher prices means more people will rely on air conditioning, which will drive energy consumption up in many homes throughout the USA. The outcome is the opposite of what the new regulations are intended to do, yet the impact on the ceiling fan industry as a whole can be detrimental. Your comments can affect the outcome of this legislation and help stop these new regulations from being mandated.
Please read the info below and then follow this link to the DOE website where you can post your comments:
Ceiling fans can already save up to 40% on air conditioning costs if those who use them simply raise their thermostat several degrees. That's because a typical air conditioner can cost anywhere from 25 to 50 cents per hour to run. Raising the thermostat a few degrees causes an air conditioner to run less often. So the 1 or 2 cents it costs to run a ceiling fan can save significantly on the cost of running an air conditioner if the thermostat is raised. So why does it matter if it costs 1 cent or 1/10 of a cent to run a ceiling fan when the majority of the savings comes from not using as much AC?
One of the reasons the government is considering these further regulations is based on a study was done years ago that indicated most people do NOT raise their thermostat when they operate their ceiling fan(s). This indicates there is a lack of consumer education in the ceiling fan industry, not a problem with ceiling fan efficiency. I propose that the DOE set aside these new regulations put resources into a nationwide consumer education program that raises awareness among those using ceiling fans as to just how much energy can be saved if they lower their thermostat when they turn on their fans.
Legislation should be considered that requires or incentives manufacturers to include specific educational material on product packaging and literature. These requirements could have a larger impact on lower energy consumption while costing manufacturers almost nothing. This is a win-win proposition for all parties involved.
Some serious testing needs to be done in order to be come up with the correct message to bring to consumers. The statement that "Ceiling fans can save up to 40% on your cooling bills" is too broad based and potentially misleading depending on the application. With appropriate testing, I believe a standardized rating system could be developed that would make it easy for consumers to tell just how much energy a particular fan can save under average circumstances...say with a certain size air conditioner in a certain sized room. Imagine if 2 fans sitting next to each other had this label: Fan #1 "This fan can save up to 10% on cooling costs" and Fan #2 "This fan can save up to 40% on your cooling costs". Consumers would immediately question why one fan was better than the other and would be compelled to read the details on the "Consumer Education" label.
A typical ceiling fan with an AC motor costs only 1 or 2 cents per hour to operate. Yet the DOE is proposing that ceiling fan manufacturers switch to costly DC motors, which use even less electricity. Although we think that DC ceiling fans are a great alternative (you'll even find us promoting them on our homepage), it'll cost you $400-$500 to own one, which is 2 or 3 times the price many people will every pay for a fan. If manufacturers are forced to incorporate these expensive motors in every ceiling fan, the average consumer will no longer be able to afford them and will resort back to using their air conditioning. This will ultimately drive up energy consumption rather than lowering it.
These new regulations are also likely to make it impossible for manufacturers to continue producing decorative styled fans, such as those with palm blades or other unique designs, because will not meet the stricter minimum standards for airflow. The bottom line is, these new regulations will drive up the cost of ceiling fans dramatically while reducing the decorative choices Americans will have when shopping for ceiling fans. The end result being less people using ceiling fans and more people using air conditioning...which means more energy will be consumed.
Although a large percentage of people who install a ceiling fan are replacing a primary light fixture in the center of a room, the government states that ceiling fans are NOT considered as a primary light source and therefore have already restricted the amount of light that ceiling fans are allowed to produce...or at least the wattage that they can consume. These regulations have already been in place for several years. Since the regulations were enacted, many consumers have complained to us about how they are not satisfied with the light that their new ceiling fans puts out not knowing that the government is controlling this. The new regulations will put even further restrictions on the lighting options ceiling fan manufacturers can offer, which will have an additional negative impact on your choices as well as the price you will have to pay for them.
How can you help? Just visit the DOE website and post a comment regarding this regulation. The more comments that are received from those who think consumer education should prevail over further regulation, the more likely they are to consider the alternative.
Thanks for your support!
These new regulations will most certainly drive the price of ceiling fans up to a point where they are out of reach for some consumers, or far less attractive to others who could afford them. Even more, with limitations on design (such as the elimination of palm leaf and other exotic styles), consumers will have less attractive options to choose from, which will certainly have an impact on their choice whether or not to buy them. Do you want to be forced to buy something that is less attractive and more expensive because of government regulations?
If less people buy ceiling fans, more will be using their air conditioning, which defeats the overall purpose of the DOE. We feel they are altogether missing the point. If more people simply used their ceiling fans properly by raising their thermostat, the energy savings would be dramatically higher than if regulations are put in place to control ceiling fan efficiency.
Ceiling fans can save up to 40% on air conditioning costs if those who use them simply raise their thermostat several degrees. That's because a typical ceiling fan costs about 1 to 2 cents per hour to operate while an air conditioner can cost anywhere from 25 to 50 cents per hour. Raising your thermostat a few degrees means that your air conditioner runs less often. So it makes perfect sense to spend an extra penny or two running a ceiling fan in order to save a half dollar.
Super Efficient Ceiling Fans
In recent years, some ceiling fan manufacturers have taken their own initiative to introduce ceiling fans that are "Super Efficient". These fans use DC motors that have newer technology. DC motors use a fraction of the electricity of the commonly used AC motors, so they use less electricity. Instead of costing 1 or 2 cents per hour to run, they can cost less than 1/10 of a cent per hour. Unfortunately, these new DC motors are VERY expensive and are currently only being used in fans that cost $300 to $500. Yes, we like super efficient fans ourselves, but we do not feel the DOE should force manufacturers to use these motors in all ceiling fans. We suggest that you as a consumer should have a choice if you want to spend the money for them.
I would suggest that ALL ceiling fans be considered as a single definition of "Ceiling Fan", thus eliminating the need for separate classification and testing
I agree that ceiling fans without external blades should be included in this rule making
Hugger ceiling fans are designed to be installed in rooms where the ceiling is lower than 8 feet. The goal is to meet safety standards that suggest no fan should be installed where the blades are LESS than 7 feet from the floor. So the distance from the ceiling is not critical...it is the distance from the floor that needs to be considered. Considering that it is impossible for a ceiling fan to be installed on a ceiling that is 7 feet high without the fan being recessed into the ceiling (this not considered a ceiling fan), it makes logical sense that any ceiling fan where the blades are 12" or more from the ceiling could NOT be in stalled on a ceiling less than 8 feet high. So from this, I could infer that any fan where the blades are less than 12" from the ceiling could be categorized as a hugger fan.
It has also been suggested that hugger ceiling fans suffer in performance compared to standard mount ceiling fans. The industry over the years has suggested that the performance of a ceiling fan begins to suffer when the blades are less than 12" from the ceiling due to restricted airflow between the blades and the ceiling. However, I have seen no actual test results that confirm this and I suggest that this is more of a stigma that has been attached to hugger ceiling fans as an easy way of explaining why they move less air
What I find more compelling is the less stated argument that the restricted airflow actually produces a bouncing of air between the blades and the ceiling, which can cause a "reverberating effect". If not controlled, the reverberating can cause a fan to vibrate or shudder. So there are additional design concerns that must be met in order to reduce or eliminate reverberation. The most common method has been to use smaller less powerful motors and flatten out the blades so that the fan moves less air, which in turn minimizes the reverberation. Thus resulting in the stigma that hugger fans move less air. However, there are manufacturers who take a different approach and opt to make a higher quality product that is more substantial and resists reverberation. Such hugger fans are quite capable or producing more than average airflow without suffering from vibration or shuddering.
For example, the 52" Concept II ceiling fans manufactured by Minka Aire have a published CFM of 6200 with an efficiency of 107 CFM/Watt, which is well above the average of existing same sized ENERGY STAR qualified standard mount fans in the marketplace. Hence, my suggestion that there is no need to classify hugger fans differently or develop a different set of standards for them.
With that said, the application of a ceiling fan still should be considered when developing regulatory standards. In many applications the hugger ceiling fan blades are closer to the floor than a standard mount ceiling fan. In the real world, hugger fans are typically installed on ceilings that are 8 feet or less, whereas it is not uncommon that a standard mount ceiling fan is installed on a ceiling that is 9 or 10 feet high without the use of an additional downrod that could potentially lower then fan to a point where the blades are 7 feet from the floor. In such a comparison, less airflow is necessary to produce a wind-chill effect from a hugger fan since the concentration of airflow is greater the closer you are to the fan blades. So in fact, a fan that produces a higher CFM yet is installed further from the floor that a fan that produces lower CFM may in fact create less of a wind-chill effect. So the real world application must be considered.
The Real World: A correlation is being missed when it comes to how any particular ceiling fan performs in the real world based on the actual application. I might suggest that a consideration of testing all fans at various distances from the ceiling would provide more insight to the consumer. This would handle the concern of "Multi-Mount" ceiling fans, which ultimately should be tested in each of their multiple configurations. However, this would place an unrealistic burden on manufacturers, which I do not recommend.
An alternative would be to provide consumers with more generalized data based on testing of various fans at different hanging heights (downrod lengths vs ceiling height) to provide some insight on how a fan is installed will affect the published performance. It may be possible through government sponsored controlled testing using various ceiling fans to determine if there is a direct correlation between the reduction or improvement of performance of ceiling fans in general based on the height of a ceiling/length of downrod used including the flush mount option offered by multi-mount fans. If such a correlation can be determined through testing, a formula can be created that would allow consumers (and manufacturers) to extrapolate the approximate performance they may expect in any given installation based on the single standardized test results of a particular fan.
Conclusion: I suggest that the performance difference between hugger fans and standard mount fans is not so much a result of airflow restriction, but rather a compromise in design to meet (or artificially create) a certain price point by manufacturers. Hugger fans are typically used in smaller rooms such as guest bedrooms and kids rooms. These are locations in the home where the consumer has less consideration for quality and appearance and more concern about price. This has driven some manufacturers to cut corners in design and functionality to meet (or artificially create) consumer demand for a lower price point in these applications. It has also resulted in an overabundance of ceiling fans being introduced by manufacturers into the marketplace that produce very little airflow with no impunity. Because there has been a lack of consumer education regarding the actual performance of ceiling fans, these artificially low price points drive consumers away from hugger fans that actually perform and save energy. Classifying hugger fans separately and subjecting them to lesser standards would only continue to mislead the consumer and allow manufacturers to continue perpetuating the stigma of hugger fans.
Based on data retrieved by the Florida Solar Energy Center study, it has been suggested that consumers generally do NOT raise the thermostat on their AC to realize the potential energy savings of operating ceiling fans. I suggest that if the efforts and resources being used by the government to regulate ceiling fans was instead used to help educate the consumer, more energy savings would result. The existing regulations and proposed new regulations stifle the ceiling fan industry which drives the price of ceiling fans up in the marketplace. As prices rise, consumer demand falls, which can only result in less ceiling fans finding their way into consumers homes. The result is increased dependency on air conditioning, which will ultimately result in a net increase in energy consumption. Quite the opposite of intent of these regulations. It is possible to create regulation that inspires or requires ceiling fan manufacturers to educate consumers about how to use ceiling fans properly to realize energy savings. A combined effort between the government and ceiling fan manufacturers to educate the consumer could result in more actual energy savings than will be realized by the existing regulations and additional proposed regulations that stifle the ceiling fan industry. Manufacturers would likely be more inclined to embrace such legislation with enthusiasm
So I suggest more emphasis be put on educating the consumer so that they understand the benefit of using a low cost less efficient ceiling fan to reduce their energy use rather than force consumers to make a harder choice, which is a higher priced super efficient ceiling fan that offers little or no return on their investment. It seems that the elephant in the room is not how much energy a ceiling fan uses, but how much energy air conditioning uses. Although regulations have had a major impact on improving the efficiency of AC, it is still an elephant compared to even the worst energy guzzling ceiling fan on the market today. Get people to use their AC less and allow them to use a powerful energy guzzling ceiling fan that produces the most wind-chill effect possible and we can turn the elephant into a mouse and save lots of energy. The flip side is to price ceiling fans beyond consumer demand so that they use their AC even more and turn the elephant into a dinosaur!
The goal of this regulation appears to be to reduce the amount of energy consumed by ceiling fans nationwide, rather than to help consumers maximize their energy savings by reducing their use of air conditioning.
If any further regulation must be placed on ceiling fan performance, I would suggest rather that ALL ceiling fans should be subject to a maximum allowed wattage with that wattage calculated based on the overall size of the fan. This would allow manufacturers to produce any type of ceiling fan they desire with less limitation on design and no necessity to classify any ceiling fan other than as a "Ceiling Fan".
Performance testing would still be required and must be published under the existing rulings. However, if a ceiling fan of any style, type or size does not meet a minimum efficiency standard, it must be classified as "Designed for Decorative Use" with some type of additional language required on packaging and promotional materials such as:
*Quotes Hansen Wholesalesale as a resource.
**The ASHRAE should be consulted for new ceiling fan testing ideas based on what produces human comfort