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Electric Fan vs. Air Conditioning Power Consumption: Which is Cheaper?


When the scorching heat of summer arrives, staying comfortable becomes a top priority for many. For decades, people have relied on electric fans and air conditioning systems to beat the heat. But have you ever wondered which option is more cost-effective regarding power consumption? 

In this blog post, we’ll explore the power consumption of electric fans and an AC system, helping you decide to keep cold without breaking the bank.

Electric Fan vs. Air Conditioning

AC vs electric fan power consumption

Staying comfortable becomes essential as intense heat bears down on us. Two leading players step forward in this battle against rising temperatures: the electric fan and the air conditioner. Both can help us escape the heat, but they have their strengths and weaknesses, especially regarding how much they affect our electricity bills.

Electric Fans

An electric fan (ceiling fan, stand fan, etc.) is a common and cost-effective way to refresh a room. Here’s why they’re considered energy-efficient:

Lower Power Consumption

Electric fans consume significantly less electricity compared to air conditioners. A regular electric fan uses only about 60 to 100 watts per hour. This means you can run more than a few fans throughout the day without significantly increasing your electricity consumption, helping you save money. Although lower energy usage equals lower cooling power, an aircon can provide cooler air.  

Spot Cooling

Stands or ceiling fans provide spot cooling, meaning they only remove the warm air in the area directly before them. This can be advantageous if you’re the only one in the room or want to cool a specific area without wasting energy on unused space.


Electrical ceiling fans are versatile and can be used with other cooling methods. For example, you can use it in a well-ventilated room to enhance the effectiveness of natural ventilation.

Environmentally Friendly

Because they consume less energy, electric ceiling fans have a smaller carbon footprint compared to air conditioners, making them a more environmentally friendly choice.

Air Conditioning Units

While air conditioning units provide effective and rapid cooling, they come with higher energy consumption and associated fees:

High Wattage

ACs typically use a lot of power. Window air conditioner units can consume around 1,000 to 5,000 watts per hour, while central AC units can use even more. This can significantly spike your electricity bill, mainly if you use them frequently. You might still experience increased power bills even if you utilize fan mode. 

Continuous Operation

Air conditioners continuously produce cold air and recirculate it in a closed space until the desired temperature is reached. This continuous operation means they consume power consistently, unlike, for example, ceiling fans that can be turned on and off as needed.

Cooling Efficiency

While air conditioners can cool an entire room more effectively, they may be overkill for smaller spaces or when only one or two people need cooling. Using an AC in such situations can be wasteful.

Maintenance Costs

ACs often require regular maintenance and occasional servicing, which adds to the overall fees of ownership.

Choosing between an air conditioner (AC) and an electric fan depends on your needs and preferences. An AC is better if you prioritize quick and comprehensive cooling in larger spaces during scorching summers.

On the other hand, if you want an efficient, budget-friendly option that provides localized cooling and versatility, an electric fan is better for you. Ultimately, the “better” choice varies based on room size, climate, and your willingness to manage energy consumption.

Which Is Cheaper: a Fan or an Air Conditioning Unit?

Aircon Outlet Computation in The Philippines

Fans are more budget-friendly to use in comparison to air conditioners. Generally, they consume about 5% of the actual energy of an AC. They’re designed to circulate air and provide a cooling effect through the evaporation of sweat on your skin, making you feel cooler without lowering the room’s temperature. On the other hand, air conditioners use a compressor and refrigeration cycle, which demands substantial energy to cool and dehumidify the air.

Fans use relatively simple motors to circulate air, resulting in much lower energy consumption. They have different inherent functions and mechanisms and do not have the same principle regarding cooling.

It’s important to note that the actual cost difference will depend on factors such as the efficiency of the specific fan or AC unit, the electricity rates in your area, and the duration and frequency of use. Still, in most cases, using a fan is a more cost- and energy-friendly way to cool a room.

If you want to get the estimated average operating costs for ACs and fans, let’s calculate it. As of October 2023, the price per kWh in Metro Manila is P11.82 per kWh, as per Meralco. Let’s assume that the units are average mid-size; we’ve given the BTU ratings of the AC for comparison. Perhaps you’ve used your appliance for 8 hours a day for 30 days; here’s how much you would spend per appliance:

TypeAverage kWhPrice per hourCost to operate
FanCeiling.0036 – .0311 kWh0.0423 – 0.368 ₱+10.2 – 88.3 ₱+
Standing / Table.017 – .0425 kWh0.201 – .5 ₱+48.2 – 120.6 ₱+
Box.0473 – .073 kWh 0.56 – 0.863 ₱+134.4 – 207.1 ₱+
Tower.044 – .0565 kWh0.52 – 0.668 ₱+124.8 – 160.3 ₱+
AC Window (5000 BTU).4 kWh4.728 ₱+1134.72 ₱+
Portable (8000 BTU).65 kWh 7.683 ₱+1843.92 ₱+
Split (10000 BTU).9 kWh10.638 ₱+2553.12 ₱+
Central (24000 BTU)1.8 kWh 21.276 ₱+5106.24 ₱+
Estimated cost to operate an average-sized air conditioner and fan

Please note that the graph above is a simplified representation and not an entirely accurate one. We have created this version for ease of understanding the cost comparison. It does not account for the various sizes of fans and different BTU (British Thermal Units) ratings of air conditioners.

Additionally, we have not included factors such as the SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) and EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) ratings, the climate conditions during usage, the placement of the appliances, and other relevant variables.

Does Electric Fan Consume More Electricity Than Aircon?

Fans generally consume significantly less electricity than air conditioners. This is because they are designed to circulate hot and cold air to create a breeze effect by promoting the evaporation of sweat on your skin, making you feel a cooling sensation. They do not lower the temperature in a room; they simply move air around.

On the other hand, air conditioners use a refrigeration process that consumes a substantial amount of electricity, as it has a better cooling capacity. They work by cooling the air and removing humidity.

So, if your goal is to save on electricity costs, using a fan is a more efficient choice for cooling. Air conditioners are typically more effective at cooling down a room, but they come at a higher energy cost.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Fan and Air Conditioners

To determine which option is more wallet-friendly, you need to consider several factors:

Initial Cost

Fans are generally more affordable to purchase and install than a basic air conditioner, which often requires professional installation. A small non-inverter window AC unit (.6 hp) is typically around 8k to 11k php. While standing fans are about 500 to 2,000 php.

Energy Efficiency

Stand, box, and ceiling fans are far more energy-saving, making them cheaper to run daily.

Cooling Efficiency

Fans may cost less compared to an AC, but the cooling efficiency of an AC far surpasses them. So, you might incur a lot more power costs if you seek extreme cooling.

Hot Air Level

The cost-effectiveness of air conditioning is affected by climate. Air conditioning may be necessary for health and comfort in extremely hot and humid regions, but electric fans may suffice in milder temperatures.

Comfort Level

Consider your personal comfort preferences. Air conditioning provides rapid and effective cooling, whereas fans offer a less dramatic but comfortable cooling experience.

Environmental Impact

Fans are generally more environmentally friendly because they consume less energy than ACs, which often rely on refrigerant and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

However, you don’t have to choose between the two; you can use both simultaneously. Just be sure to position them correctly to maximize their effectiveness.

Final Thoughts

Electric fans are undeniably the more energy-efficient and cost-effective option for staying cool. However, ACs provide more effective cooling for larger spaces during extreme heatwaves.

To strike a balance between comfort and cost, consider combining both methods and using them strategically based on your needs and the weather conditions. Ultimately, the choice is yours, but with the right approach, you can keep cool and save money without compromising quality.

JP Reyes

JP has been in the aircon industry for almost as long as he has been alive. As a child JP would help his tatay fix aircon units at their junk shop in Cavite. After graduating UP in the early 2000's, JP then started his own Aircon servicing business and within 5 years had 10 shops in 8 different cities. Fast forward to today and JP brings all his experience and expertise online to give readers trustworthy advice and reviews about Air-conditioning buying, servicing, cleaning and repair in the Philippines.

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