Anyone who has spent summer in Queensland knows how unbearable the heat can be without good quality air conditioning. But with the average cost of living continuing to rise, homeowners are looking for more ways to cut down their energy consumption without sacrificing the comfort of high-end air conditioning.
That’s where your air conditioner’s fan mode comes in. In some cases it can provide adequate cooling while being a fraction of the electricity costs. In this article, we’ll explore what it is, some benefits, when to use it, and how it differs from a regular ceiling fan.
What is fan mode in AC?
Chances are you’re familiar with the little fan icon on the air conditioner remote, but what is fan mode in AC? Put simply, when your air conditioner is in fan mode the unit’s fan circulates air around the room. In this mode, the fan—rather than the compressor—does the work as the fan runs continuously while the compressor is turned off. This means that the temperature and humidity levels of the room don’t change because the fan is simply re-circulating air that is already in the room.
What are the benefits of air conditioner fan mode?
Using your air conditioner in fan mode comes with a range of benefits, such as:
- Reduce your energy consumption. Operating the air conditioner in fan mode uses significantly less energy than other AC modes, including cooling, heating and dry mode. This is because it takes less power to run the fan than the compressor. Generally speaking, an air conditioner can use up to several thousand watts per hour in default or cooling mode, but only several hundred—and often fewer—watts per hour in fan mode. While the exact difference in power consumption will vary according to the air conditioner model and settings being compared, this is a substantial average saving.
- Help cool your room early in the morning. When temperatures are cool early in the morning, setting the air conditioner to fan mode is a great way to circulate this already-cool air, without the cost of running the unit’s compressor.
- Prolong the life of your air conditioner. While modern air conditioners are built to last, continuously running the air conditioner in cooling mode can take a toll on the unit. Using fan mode on cooler, less humid days, can be a great way to give your unit a break.
- Ensure optimal air conditioner performance and prevent mould growth. When the air conditioner is in cool or dry mode, moisture can condense inside the unit. Some air conditioner models, therefore, recommend running the unit in fan mode for several hours either after long periods of cool/dry mode operation, or when the air conditioner is first turned on after prolonged periods of disuse. This helps to ensure the inside of the air conditioner is dried thoroughly, reducing the risk of mould growth.
Best time to use air conditioner fan mode
The best time to use fan mode is when you are already happy with the room’s temperature and humidity levels, but want the comfort that comes with gently circulating air. Because the fan mode won’t cool your room, air conditioner fan mode is better saved for cooler days, or times when you want to refresh the stale air in a room. Some of the best times to use air conditioner fan mode are:
- At night when the temperature drops. If you find yourself getting too cold with the air conditioner on cooling mode overnight, but still need a breeze to help you sleep, fan mode can be a good alternative.
- Early in the morning before the temperature rises. If the temperature outside is relatively low, you can reduce your electricity consumption by using fan mode to recirculate the air.
- In summer, if the house has been locked up all day. Removing hot air from your house before turning the air conditioner on to cooling mode will reduce the amount of energy required to cool your house. The best way to remove hot air is to open all the doors and windows and turn the air conditioner on to fan mode for half an hour to an hour.
- After long periods of air conditioner use in cooling mode, such as at the end of the day, or after long periods of not having used the air conditioner, such as at the start of summer. Activating fan mode in both these instances will help to ensure your air conditioner stays dry inside, limiting mould growth.
Depending on your temperature preferences, you can also use air conditioner fan mode any time the room has reached its optimal temperature and you simply want to circulate the already cool air. Remember that the optimal way to run your air conditioner is to keep it within the most efficient temperature settings for your region.
AC fan mode vs ceiling fan
While air conditioner fan mode works in a similar way to a standard pedestal or ceiling fan, there are a few important differences to consider when weighing up your choices in the AC fan mode vs ceiling fan debate.
The biggest difference between air conditioner fan mode and a ceiling fan is their relative cooling abilities. While air conditioner fan mode will deliver a minor cooling effect by redistributing air around the room, cooling is not its primary purpose—that’s what the air conditioner’s cooling mode is for. By comparison, ceiling fans are generally more powerful and can move more air, making them a better option for evaporative cooling.
The second main difference between air conditioner fan mode and a ceiling fan is their energy consumption. While fan mode uses less power than other air conditioner modes, it still uses more than a ceiling fan. The majority of ceiling fans use between 30 and 70 watts, which is significantly less than air conditioner fan mode. This translates to a sizable dollar difference, with Canstar Blue analysis finding the average ceiling fan only costs between $0.02 and $0.05 per hour, depending on fan speed.