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Ceiling fan vs air con in Spain: Which offers the better price-coolness ratio?

The Local Spain
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Ceiling fan vs air con in Spain: Which offers the better price-coolness ratio?
Which is better - air-con or fan? Photo: Filmreal Studio and Carlos Lindner / Unsplash

When Spain's scorching summer temperatures come along, you need to look at all the possible ways of keeping cool. The big question is will a ceiling fan do the job well enough or is the extra cost of air-conditioning worth it?

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Spain has been experiencing several heat waves already this summer, with the earliest being in April 2023. The State Meteorological Agency (AEMET) has warned of another heatwave in August with temperatures above 40C and eight regions on alert. 

Sweating in sweltering heat while you're trying to work from home or sleeping at night can be very uncomfortable, sometimes near impossible, so you need an effective way of keeping cool. 

But which do you choose - a ceiling fan or air-conditioning?

Electricity costs reached historic highs last year, and while they have somewhat stabilised, for now, but they can still be volatile and it's still possible to receive a shock electric bill. Inflation has also made everything more expensive, meaning your hard-earned cash has to stretch much further. 

This means that cost is a big factor in deciding which is best.

Ceiling fans

Buying a ceiling fan can cost anywhere from €55 to €600, depending on the make you buy, the material and the size. You should also budget extra for installation. 

Most fans use between 40W and 100W, so for example, if you have an average 75W ceiling fan and run it for eight hours straight, it will use 0.60kWh.

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The current electricity price for the middle of the day on Monday, June 26th is 0.1621/kWh and the average ceiling fan uses around 75 watts. This means that running your fan for eight hours per day at this price will cost around €0.10, without adding on any extra fees or taxes.

Use a more powerful fan though and you could end up paying a lot more.

Air conditioners

The average price of a Split 1x1 (for one room) air-con unit in Spain can vary greatly depending on the brand and its capabilities, with prices ranging between €300 and €1,800.

Keep in mind that installation costs for split systems range from €300 to €500. This means you could be paying a total of up to €2,300 per room, but it would depend on the make, as well as other factors unique to your home. 

It’s obvious that air-conditioning is more expensive than a fan, both to buy and to run.

According to air-con experts Clima Mania, air-conditioning costs around €0.27 per hour to run, but this can be more during the most expensive times, which are on weekdays between 10am and 2pm and 6pm to 10pm.

This means that it’s significantly more expensive than running a fan. 

According to the money-saving website Ahora Ahorro, it will cost you around €70 per month if you use your air conditioner for five hours per day, not including taxes and extra fees.

Keep in mind this is just an average estimate. The real cost of running your air-con will depend on its cooling potential and the size of your room, as well as how well-insulated your property is.

Running an air conditioner is around seven to 16 times more expensive than a fan, depending on what type of unit you have.

READ ALSO: How much does it cost to have air-conditioning at home in Spain?

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Effectiveness

While cost is an important factor, it’s not the only one. You also want to know how effective your device is going to be at cooling your home, whether it’s a ceiling fan or an air-con unit.

The main difference is that fans do not actually make the air in the room any colder, they only create a wind chill factor, making you feel as if you’re cooler. They simply help to evaporate sweat from your skin faster, which will cool you down.

But if the air temperature is anywhere from 30C to 40C, all a fan is going to do is blow the hot air around the room faster. Fans don’t cool the room down at all, they only help to make you feel more comfortable.

Air-con machines on the other hand can lower the temperature of the room, not just creating the effect of feeling cooler, but actually making it colder.

This means that air-con is far more effective at helping you cope with the intense heat. 

However, the question of whether you should get a ceiling fan or an air con unit will really depend on you and where you live in Spain.

If you're based in northern Spain, where the temperatures only occasionally reach above 30C, then a ceiling fan will more than likely suffice, but if you live in inland Andalusia such as in Córdoba or Sevilla, where summer temperatures can regularly reach into low 40s, then a fan isn’t going to cut it.

It will also depend on how much the heat affects you and how much time you're going to be spending at home. If you work in the office all day and have air-con there, a fan for the home may be fine, but if you work from home, you may want to invest in air-con. 

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Top tips: 

  • One of the best ways to keep air-con costs down is to keep the temperature of the air conditioner at a more moderate 25C for a longer time than to blast cool air at 16C for a shorter period.

  • If you have both a fan and air-con, you can cool the temperature down with the air-con, then switch it off to save money and use the fan to circulate the colder air. 

  • Switching your air-con or fan on during the cheaper times of the day can also help you save money. For example, it's less expensive to turn them on after 2pm and before 6pm on weekdays. 

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