South and Hickory Facade

AC or a Fan? What to Use When

Oscillating fan on a sideboard in a living room. Photo credit: Filios Sazeides

July 2021


It’s summer in Rochester. And while we love summer in the South Wedge, some days can be just a little too hot and humid. Thankfully, our apartments come with central air conditioning. But being mindful of when you use your AC and when you can still be comfortable without it can save you money – and help the environment.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, air conditioners account for 17% of all energy used in homes in the United States. Not surprisingly, that number varies by season and can jump to almost 50% on hotter days. Given that data, why not just use a fan all the time? As you’ve probably experienced, when it’s really hot, really humid, or you’re trying to cool a large space, a fan just won’t cut it.

The reason for that is based on how each device works. A fan doesn’t actually lower the temperature of a room, it just moves the air around. This leads to faster evaporation of moisture on your skin, which helps makes things feel cooler. An air conditioner actually lowers the temperature. It does this by blowing air over refrigerated coils, cooling it down and then sending it into your apartment.

If you’d like to avoid using your AC more often, try these strategies.

  • Take a cold shower. Cooling your core temperature can really help. For an extra cool blast, try using peppermint soap.
  • Cool your wrists. Running cold water over your wrists or holding a cold, wet washcloth on them can help cool your blood and core temperature.
  • Let the night air in. Keep an eye on the weather forecast. When the low temperatures dip below 65 or 70 degrees, opening your windows at night will cool things down and feel amazing.
  • Pull the shades. The sun is a powerful thing and you can keep your apartment cooler just by closing your blinds or shades during the day.
  • Avoid using your oven. The amount of radiant heat your oven develops is enough to raise your room temperature several degrees. Try stovetop cooking, using the microwave, or going with cold food – like a nice gazpacho.