Air Conditioning vs Ceiling Fan : Who wins the heat battle?

air conditioner vs ceiling fan

Air Conditioner Vs Ceiling Fan : So should I install a ceiling fan, air conditioner or both?

What are the differences between the two? In a nutshell, air conditioners are effective at cooling spaces as they use cool air to cool the room(s) whilst ceiling fans are designed to ‘push air’ or ‘circulate air’ around the room.

Does this mean that the air conditioner is better? Depends on what you are trying to achieve. If you are a hot blooded Aussie, burning in the Australian heat, the air conditioner may be your only saving grace by cooling your rooms to icy temperatures. But is this effective or energy efficient? The downside is that running an air conditioner for hours a day will definitely increase your electricity bill – by a lot.

 Air Conditioning Pros & Cons


• Effective at Cooling Spaces

• Will cool the space, which indirectly cools you

• Temperature is set to maintain your required temperature

• You have the option to reverse cooling/heating

• Expensive to run

• Uses on average of 2,200 watts per hour

• Dries out the air

• Regular maintenance required (cleaning of filters)

• Expensive to fix if they break

So I should go with ceiling fans then? As mentioned above, ceiling fans are designed to ‘push air’ or ‘circulate air’ in the room. On a scorching hot day, they will assist in relieving the hot, stagnant air, and bring back all the nostalgic moments of younger days. Most Aussies are used to ceiling fans in their homes, having grown up with them. It’s great to say ceiling fans have come a long way since the old ages with new styles, integrated technology (using SMART technology) and fans with higher airflows, the ceiling fan choice is abundant.

 Ceiling Fan Pros & Cons


• Cheap to run compared to the air conditioner (uses approx. 60W for AC fans and 30W for DC fans)

• Better for the environment as less power is consumed

• Minimal maintenance required

• Efficient in more open spaces

• Doesn’t dry out the air

• Moves the air around (so doesn’t ‘cool’ air – note that it will move ‘cool’ air from an air conditioner)

• May not reach every corner of the room

• Need to ensure correct placement of fans to ensure the air flow is felt

What if I used both and how would this work? Now we are talking friendship. Running both the fan and air conditioner together, will certainly increase your bills higher, but not if you use them smarter together. The Air conditioner is great for pushing cool air into a room, and the ceiling fan is great at moving the air around. Catch my drift? Using the air conditioner to cool the room first and once cool, can be switched off.

The ceiling fan can then be used to circulate the cool air around for hours after the air conditioner has been switched off - including use at night time. Furthermore if you are able to have your air conditioner running a few degrees higher than normal in conjunction with the cooling breeze of a fan, you will drastically reduce your energy consumption.

Don’t forget, most ceiling fans will come with a winter/summer (reverse) function. This changes how the fan moves the air, allowing your fans to be used all year round with the Air Conditioning unit for both warm and cool air.

Money Saving Tip: Switch your ceiling fan off once you leave the room! As a fan works by creating air movement not by 'cooling the air' there is no benefit to leaving them running.

Running Costs Summary

What are the running costs? Below is an approximate guide on the different running costs of household items (based on 38c/kWhr)

Cost per hourCost per dayCost per year
60w Light Bulb$0.02$0.18$65.70
30w DC Ceiling Fan$0.01$0.09$32.85
60w AC Ceiling Fan$0.02$0.18$65.70
1,800w Dishwasher$0.68$5.47$992.80
3,500w Air Conditioner$0.95$7.60$1,996.55
10,000w Large Ducted Air Conditioner$3.80$30.40$11,096.00

*Cost per day is based on 8 hours of operation. Cost per year is based on 8 hours of operation 365 days a year. Whilst we understand you will not run a dishwasher or large ducted air conditioner for 8 hours 365 days a year, the purpose of the table is to illustrate how energy efficient a ceiling fan is vs other appliances.