What Does it Cost to Operate a Ceiling Fan?

What Does it Cost to Operate a Ceiling Fan?

It costs only three tenths of one cent per hour ($0.0029) to operate an energy efficient ceiling fan such as the Emerson Midway Eco (shown to the left) and about 3 to 5 times that for typical ceiling fans that are less efficient. Even the worst energy guzzling ceiling fans on the market will only cost you less than 2 cents per hour to run. These costs are virtually negligable, which explains why ceiling fans are such a great energy saving alternative to air conditioning.

Calculating the cost to operate a ceiling fan is a simply a matter of knowing how many watts the fan uses and multiplying that by the cost per kWh of electricity you are being charged by your utility company. This will give you the cost per hour to run the fan. The range of wattage between various brands and models of ceiling fans (without lights) is anywhere from 12 watts to 120 watts per hour. Based on that, here is how much it would cost to operate the most and least energy consuming ceiling fans on the market if either fan was left running 24 hours a day for an entire year. No one is likely ever to use their ceiling fan even remotely close to that many hours, but I am taking these calculations to an extreme just to show how cheap it is to run even the worst fan.

  1. Fan #1 – Super Efficient Ceiling Fan at 12 Watts = $12.61 per year
  2. Fan #2 – Average Ceiling Fan at 60 Watts = $63.07 per year
  3. Fan #3 – More Powerful Ceiling Fan at 120 Watts = $126.14 per year

So, the most it can cost you to run a ceiling fan without lights is about $126 per year, which is equal to about $10 per month and the least it will cost you is $12 per year, which comes out to just $1 per month…which in either case, is amazingly cheap.

Ceiling Fans with Lights

The above calculations did not consider having a light fixture on the ceiling fan. The range of wattage for a ceiling fan including lights is somewhere around 76 to 360 watts, which is a much more dramatic difference. Here are the calculations for those numbers:

  • Fan #4 – Super Efficient Ceiling Fan with Lights at 76 Watts = $79.89 per year
  • Fan #5 – Average Ceiling Fan with Lights at 60 Watts at 180 Watts = $189.22 per year
  • Fan #6 – More Powerful Ceiling Fan with Lights at 360 Watts = $378.43 per year

The numbers for fan #4 above are those from the Emerson Midway Eco, which is the most efficient ENERGY STAR qualified ceilign fan on the market that comes with a light. The light fixture built-in to the Eco fan uses 4-13 watt Compact Fluorescent bulbs for just 52 Watts that is equivalent to over 100 watts of incandescent light. Add the 26 watts the fan motor uses for a total of 76 Watts. Fan #6 could be any number of less efficient ceiling fans with a 4 light fixture and uplight that uses incandescent bulbs. So the lighting would be around 240 watts and the motor at 120 watts for a combined total of 360 Watts.

So the conclusion I am hoping that you will make here is that the light fixture you choose for your ceiling fan is what will cost you the most in the long run. Keep in mind that these estimates above are for operating each ceiling fan 24 hours a day for 365 days…so you can cut those numbers by about 75% or more to come to a more realistic usage.

Ceiling Fan Operational Cost Calculator

The calculator that you see below can be found on all of our ceiling fan detail pages where the wattage for the fan is available. In this example, we have initially plugged in the specifications for the Midway Eco Fan which uses just 24 Watts of electricity on high speed with the light off, and 76 Watts with the light turned on. As you can see, the calculated cost to operate the fan with lights off is only $0.0029/hr. If you re-calculate it with the lights turned on, the cost increases by about 300% to $0.0091, but is still less than a penny per hour. So the first lesson to be learned here is that in almost all cases, the light fixture on a ceiling fan uses far more electricity than the fan motor itself. This fan will give us a good foundation for testing the range of costs between ceiling fans, which you can do by clicking the various buttons below the calculator.

What does it cost to operate this ceiling fan 24 hours per day?
Fan Watts Cost of Electricity/kWh
(Enter your cost per kWh or select your state)
Hours/Day Days/Year

hours days
w/Lights (52 Watts)

Hourly Cost $ /
Yearly Cost $

Basic Help: Our cost usage calculator shows you how much it will cost to operate the ceiling fan. By default, the calculator assumes that you will leave your fan running 24 hours a day for the entire year (which is not very likely to be accurate), so you will want to change the hours and days to be more in line with how often you think you will use the fan. The calculator also defaults to the average cost per kWh of electricity in the USA. You can change this to use the average cost of electricity in your state, although this may vary widely from city to city. For the most accurate calculation, manually enter the actual cost/kWh shown on your utility bill. The wattage of the fan is already included (if it is known), but you can change it if you wish to see how the wattage affects the cost.

Fans with lights: Calculations are performed without lights by default. If you add a light fixture to the fan, you can add the wattage of the fixture to the wattage of the fan to perform calculations with the lights on. In some cases, when a light fixture of known wattage is included with the fan, the option to calculate with or without lights will show automatically. The light fixture on a ceiling fan almost always uses substantially more electricity than the fan motor, so it is very important to take that into account when comparing the overall operational cost between various ceiling fans

CFM -vs- Efficiency: CFM is KING! It is more important to buy a fan with higher CFMs than it is to buy a fan that uses less electricity. The highest wattage consumed by the most energy guzzling ceiling fan on our website is about 120 watts. So if you input 120 as the fan watts and run our calculator, you will see that it still costs less than 2 cents per hour to operate the most energy guzzling ceiling fan in most states. You will get more savings with a higher CFM fan than a lower Wattage fan because if your fan moves more air you will be able to raise your thermostat to a higher degree. Raising your thermostat by 10 degrees can save you up to 40% on your cooling bills. Choosing a less powerful fan because it uses less electricity can be the worst mistake you can make because it will not cool you off enough to allow you to raise your thermostat to a high enough level without becoming uncomfortable. This is why CFM is so much more important to consider than Wattage.

The average kWh by state used by our calculator is derived from information published by the US Government Department of Energy as of May 2009. Your actual cost may differ from this. Again, refer to your utility bill for your most recent kWh cost.