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ENERGY

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

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? Here's our breakdown.

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

Spain, like much of Europe, has been experiencing an intense heatwave over the last week with the hottest temperatures reaching 42°C – 43°C in Córdoba.

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 have been reaching historic highs over the past year, with prices this Wednesday, July 20th, 124 percent higher than the same time in 2021, according to recent data from OMIE, operator of the Iberian energy market.

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

Ceiling fans

Buying a ceiling fan can cost anywhere from €40 to €600, depending on the make you buy 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.

The current electricity price for the middle of the day on Wednesday July 20th is 0.316/kWh. This means that running your fan for eight hours per day at this price will cost around €0.18, 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 1×1 (for one room) air-con unit in Spain can vary greatly depending on the brand and its capabilities, with prices ranging between €300 and €1,400.

Keep in mind that installation costs for split systems range from €300 to €400. This means you could be paying a total of up to €1,800 per room, but it would depend on the make. 

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

According to Spanish rate comparer Selectra, air-conditioning costs around €0.44 per hour at 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 Spanish consumer watchdog OCU, this increase will mean an additional €36 per month for using an air con for just five hours a day, on top of your normal electricity bill.

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?

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 30°C to 40°C, 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 30°C, 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. 

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 25°C for a longer time than to blast cool air at 16°C 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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For members

BRITONS IN SPAIN

Can British people in Spain claim the UK’s winter fuel payment?

In the UK, there are various benefits available to help eligible people through the cold winter months – one of which is the winter fuel payment. But can Britons living in Spain claim this benefit to cover the cost of heating their Spanish homes?

Can British people in Spain claim the UK's winter fuel payment?

Energy costs are on the up in Spain, and with the winter fast approaching the added cost of paying for heating when the mercury drops can result in some very high bills.

Not all of Spain has freezing winters but there are often cold spells and many houses in the country tend to get even colder than it is outside.

READ MORE: Why are Spanish homes so cold?

The average winter temperature across Spain is 8C (1981 to 2010 average). That’s higher than the average in other European countries, but in Spain’s interior and mountainous areas it can be truly chilly from November to March.  

That means that overall, there’s a chance you’ll need to use a radiator or the central heating to keep your Spanish home warm.

So are some of the 400,000+ UK nationals who reside in Spain eligible for winter fuel financial support from the UK?

What is the UK’s winter fuel payment?

The UK’s winter fuel payment is a tax-free payment to help older people with heating costs during the cold winter months.

Those eligible must have been born before September 26th 1956, according to the UK government website.

How much people receive depends on their age and whether anyone else in the household is also eligible, but the amount is usually between £250 and £600.

I’m a UK national living in Spain. Can I claim the winter fuel payment?

The UK government states that those living abroad can benefit from the winter fuel payment if:

  • You moved to an eligible country before 1st January 2021
  • You were born before September 26th 1956
  • You have a genuine and sufficient link to the UK – this can include having lived or worked in the UK, and having family in the UK

While many EU nations are on the list of eligible countries, such as Austria, Germany, Sweden, and Italy, unfortunately Spain is not on the list.

This means that if you live in Spain, you will not be able to claim the winter fuel payment at all, even if you meet the age conditions.

Why isn’t Spain on the eligible list of countries?

The UK government services website nidirect states that “you cannot get the payment if you live in Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal or Spain because the average winter temperature is higher than the warmest region of the UK”.

This is despite the fact that some parts of Spain are a lot colder than the average UK winter temperatures. This includes cities, towns and villages near mountain ranges such as the Pyrenees or Sierra Nevada, or regions in the interior like Castilla-La Mancha, Aragón​​ and Castilla y León.

According to the British government, during winter the average temperature is between 2 and 7 C in the UK.

READ ALSO: Where are the coldest places in Spain?

Foreigners in Spain used to be able to claim this financial benefit, but it was scrapped in 2015 after many UK taxpayers were angry that UK winter fuel payments were going to help people that lived in countries that were generally warmer than the UK.

READ ALSO: Which UK benefits can Brits keep if they move to Spain?

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