I remember watching a ancient show called Trading Spaces, one of the first unscripted (I won’t dignify the genre with the blatantly false term “reality”) television shows I ever heard of. At the time, I only had regular access to broadcast television, so I must have been watching it at someone else’s house. Anyway, one of the “designers” decided that ceiling fans were ugly and removed the fan from the living room being redesigned. This episode was set in Houston, where the summertime heat can melt asphalt and the humidity can drown small animals. I remember thinking, “This idiot better get out of town before the homeowners return. Otherwise, he may not live to see another episode.” As I recall, the reveal more closely resembled an episode from Jerry Springer than Property Brothers.
Ceiling fans may be an oddity or an eyesore in more temperate climates. In the South and Southwest, they are a necessity. And while they don’t make a room any cooler, they do make the people in the room cooler. They do that by improving the cooling efficiency of evaporation, and that can make the difference between sweltering and relaxing. And even though ceiling fans actually add heat to the room, they can lower your electric bill by making you feel cooler even though the room itself is warmer. So don’t leave a fan on when you leave the room.
Choosing the Right Fan for the Room
I use a very science-ish method to choose the right ceiling fan for a room. I pick the biggest fan (as determined by blade size) that won’t look stupid. The bigger the fan, the more air it can move at slower speeds. The more air it moves, the cooler it makes you feel.
Other than that, Sue Ann picks the style that fits the design plan she wants for the house. [And Sue Ann likes lights that don’t gather bugs or dust, and prefers light styles other than the bell-shaped one in the photo—Sue Ann]
And unlike the “designer” from Trading Spaces, I think ceiling fans can be beautiful as well as functional. They come in an almost infinite variety of styles and prices. We’ve paid less than $100 for a small fan to cool a small room in a low-end renovation. Most of the fans we buy are between $100-$150. Given that these fans also include light kits, that’s not a lot to pay to cool and light a room. We’ve even used outdoor fans with blades shaped like palm leaves to cool porches. At the high end, we’ve paid more than $1000 for a fan. It was beautiful, but it didn’t make me feel any cooler than a $200 fan would have.