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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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WILDFIRES

Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

Europe's blistering summer may not be over yet, but 2022 is already breaking records, with nearly 660,000 hectares ravaged since January, according to the EU's satellite monitoring service.

Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

And while countries on the Mediterranean have normally been the main seats of fires in Europe, this year, other countries are also suffering heavily.

Fires this year have forced people to flee their homes, destroyed buildings and burned forests in EU countries, including Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Some 659,541 hectares (1.6 million acres) have been destroyed so far, data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) showed, setting a record at this point in the year since data collection began in 2006.

Europe has suffered a series of heatwaves, forest fires and historic drought that experts say are being driven by human-induced climate change.

They warn more frequent and longer heatwaves are on the way.

The worst-affected country has been Spain, where fire has destroyed 244,924 hectares, according to EFFIS data.

The EFFIS uses satellite data from the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

The data comes after CAMS said Friday that 2022 was a record year for wildfire activity in southwestern Europe and warned that a large proportion of western Europe was now in “extreme fire danger”.

“2022 is already a record year, just below 2017,” EFFIS coordinator Jesus San-Miguel said. In 2017, 420,913 hectares had burned by August 13, rising to 988,087 hectares by the end of the year.

“The situation in terms of drought and extremely high temperatures has affected all of Europe this year and the overall situation in the region is worrying, while we are still in the middle of the fire season,” he said.

Since 2010, there had been a trend towards more fires in central and northern Europe, with fires in countries that “normally do not experience fires in their territory”, he added.

“The overall fire season in the EU is really driven mainly by countries in the Mediterranean region, except in years like this one, in which fires also happen in central and northern regions,” he added.

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