As the weather begins to cool off, you are probably wondering about how you’ll take full advantage of your heating and cooling. After all, HVAC costs routinely contribute a significant chunk of your monthly electric bill. To try and find ways to save, some owners look closer at their thermostat. Could there be a setting they can use to improve efficiency?
Most thermostats include both a ‘Fan’ or ‘Fan On’ setting. But if the fan is going during a normal cycle, what can the fan setting provide for the HVAC system? This guide should help. We’ll walk through precisely what the fan setting is and whether you can use it to save money in the summer or winter.
What Is the Fan Setting on My Thermostat?
For the majority of thermostats, the fan setting indicates that the air handler’s blower fan remains on. A few furnaces may continue to run at a low level with this setting, but in most cases heating or cooling isn’t being produced. The ‘Auto’ setting, on the other hand, will run the fan during a heating or cooling cycle and switch it off once the cycle is over.
There are pros and cons to using the fan setting on your thermostat, and the ideal option can depend on your unique comfort needs.
Advantages to switching to the Fan/On setting:
- You can keep the temperature throughout your home more balanced by permitting the fan to keep circulating air.
- Indoor air quality will be highest because steady airflow will keep moving airborne contaminants into the air filter.
- Fewer start-stop cycles for the system's fan helps lengthen its life span. Because the air handler is usually connected to the furnace, this means you can minimize the risk of needing furnace repair.
Downsides to using the Fan/On setting:
- A continuous fan will likely add to your energy bills slightly.
- Continuous airflow may clog your air filter up more quickly, increasing the frequency you will want to replace it.
Should My Thermostat Be on Fan or Auto in Summer/Winter
Through the summer, warm air may persist in unfinished spaces including the attic or an attached garage. If you use the fan setting, your HVAC system might draw this warm air into the rest of your home, pushing the HVAC system to work harder to keep up with the preferred temperature. In extreme heat, this may lead to needing AC repair more regularly as wear and tear gets worse.
The reverse can take place over the winter. Cooler spaces such as a basement will hold onto cooler air, which can eventually flow into the rest of your home. Leaving the fan setting on will sometimes pull more cold air upward, increasing the amount of heating you need to stay warm.
If you’re still trying to figure out if you should try the fan/on setting, keep in mind that every home and family’s comfort needs will vary. Leaving the HVAC system’s fan on might work for you if:
Someone in your household suffers from allergies. Allergies and similar respiratory conditions can be stressful on the family. Leaving the fan on is more likely to enhance indoor air quality, helping your family breathe easier.
Your home experiences hot and cold spots. All kinds of homes wrestle with difficult hot and cold spots that quickly shift to a temperature different from the rest of the house. The fan setting can help lessen these changes by constantly refreshing each room’s airflow.