The 10 Best Fans Under $50
A Brief History Of Fans
Once air conditioning became popular in the 1960s, the popularity of fans cooled somewhat.
Staying cool has been one of man's top priorities for the entirety of our history (well, at least since the Ice Age, anyway). For most of the early portion of that history, that meant getting in the shade, or perhaps taking a dip in a body of water.
Then, in India around 500 B.C.E., the first fan was invented. Known as a punkah fan, it was a handheld model made of bamboo, and was often wielded by slaves or servants for the pleasure of those who were more fortunate.
The next big advancement in cooling technology came in the 2nd century C.E., when a Chinese engineer devised a manually-operated rotating fan; about six centuries later, other Chinese inventors would figure out how to make this device work using hydraulic power.
By the time the 17th century rolled around, fans were being considered for their usefulness as ventilators, rather than just as cooling units, and the first known ventilation system was installed in the British Houses of Parliament by architect Sir Christopher Wren. Other British engineers used Wren's ideas to create fans that were capable of drawing toxic air out of mine shafts.
Fans received a big boost in power once steam power became widely available in the early 19th century. Massive steam pumps could power equally-large fans, allowing for the ventilation of huge buildings like hospitals.
As the century rolled on, our understanding of electricity began to grow, and by 1882 the first electrical fan came along, courtesy of American engineer Schuyler Wheeler. Mass-produced electric fans hit the shelves in 1909, and steel fans became cost effective enough that by the 1920s most homes had at least one.
Once air conditioning became popular in the 1960s, the popularity of fans cooled somewhat. However, as more people started to understand the massive impact that running an air conditioner could have on the environment — not to mention your electric bill — fans saw a return to prominence.
Many modern households still boast a combination of fans and air conditioners. Today's units are both powerful and energy-efficient, offering an eco-friendly alternative to running a centralized air system around the clock.
Tips For Using Your Fan
We know, we know — it's hard to convince yourself to use your fan when it's sweltering and your air conditioner is just right there. However, if you use your fan correctly, you might just be surprised at how much it can cool off your entire home, and at a fraction of the cost of running the A/C.
The first thing you need to understand is how cold air works. You may already know that warm air rises, so that means that the cold air you want is lurking near the floor. By placing fans at floor level, you can circulate that cold air around the room.
By placing fans at floor level, you can circulate that cold air around the room.
You can further take advantage of this by ventilating your home properly. If you crack some windows on lower floors — preferably basement level — you can let more cold air in. Then, by placing fans in strategic places around the house, you can guide that air throughout the home, especially if you have windows open towards the top of the house.
Also, while it's tempting, you shouldn't point the fan directly at yourself. Instead, face it away from you, like out the door or window. This pushes the hot air away from you, creating a vacuum that the cooler air will rush in to fill.
If you insist on pointing it at your face, though, you can replicate the feeling of an air conditioner on the cheap by placing a bowl of ice water in front of the fan. This will create a cool mist that's fantastic for lowering your temperature on a hot summer day.
Once you get the hang of using your fans to their maximum effectiveness, you'll have a home that stays comfy regardless of what the thermometer reads. Even better, you won't get hot under the collar the next time you open that electric bill.
Other Ways To Stay Cool For Cheap
Fans aren't the only way to lower the temperature inside your home without touching the thermostat. There are several ways you can cheaply — but effectively — keep your home pleasant year-round.
Limiting how much energy you expend cleaning up the house will also make it less likely that you feel hot, regardless of the actual temperature.
The most important thing you can do is simply to keep the heat out. Do this by keeping your blinds shut during the day, or adding thick blackout curtains to your windows. Also, ensuring your home is properly insulated is an investment that will pay huge dividends over time, as not only does it block out the heat, but it keeps that expensive treated air inside, where it belongs.
Try to limit when you do your chores, as well. Dryers in particular throw off a lot of heat, so limit their use to nighttime, when it's cooler. Limiting how much energy you expend cleaning up the house will also make it less likely that you feel hot, regardless of the actual temperature.
Speaking of which, don't neglect your personal temperature, either. Sipping on a cool drink or simply laying a wet towel over your head and neck can work wonders, even if it does nothing for the house as a whole.
If you simply must turn on the air conditioner, however, be smart about when you use it. The best time to run it is while you sleep, as a cool room can improve the quality of your rest. The easiest way to handle this is by getting yourself a programmable thermostat.
You don't have to spend a fortune to feel like a million bucks. With these easy hacks, you'll be feeling great in no time, without running up a high energy bill.