smart spending

6 ways conventional wisdom wastes money

Keep ceiling fans on in an empty room
4 of 8

The ceiling fan is a great alternative to -- or accompaniment to -- air conditioning, right?

Not unless you are in the room, says Gregory Karp, personal finance columnist and author of "The 1-2-3 Money Plan."

"(People) leave ceiling fans on in rooms where there are no people -- but ceiling fans don't cool rooms at all, they only cool people," Karp says. "They create a wind chill factor that makes human skin feel cooler. It has nothing to do with cooling your sofa in an empty room."

And in the winter, running a ceiling fan in the opposite direction doesn't offer many benefits, Karp says. In houses with high ceilings, the fans can push the heat down -- but otherwise, they will often create a wind chill and waste electricity.

And the cost can be significant, setting you back $35 per year on your utility bill to leave a large ceiling fan set on high through the night each night.




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