Are Bathroom Fans Expensive To Run? (5 examples)


bathroom fan save money

With rising energy prices and everybody looking to conserve energy to keep our planet clean, it’s wise to analyze everything that consumes energy in our households. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that you even don’t think about that make a big difference!

Bathroom exhaust fans are not expensive to run when they are working only when necessary. On average it costs $3.5 per year to run a modern correctly sized fan. Heated bath fans are much more expensive to run costing an average of $113 per year.

How Much Electricity Does a Bathroom Fan Use?

Here is a table demonstrating how much electricity bathroom fans use and how much it costs to run different sized extraction fans hourly, annually, and just for the sake of it, for 10 years. This is the average expected lifespan of the fan.

CFMWattage(watts)Hourly cost(USD)Annual cost(USD)*Lifetime cost(10 years)*
8020 w0.0031.414
13050 w0.0063.535
30080 w0.0105.656
620160 w0.02111.3113
1101616** w0.208113.71137
How much it costs to run bathroom fan.


Notes:
*1.5-hour usage per day (3 person household, 10 minutes during shower + 20 minutes after the shower, times three showers)
**Electricity cost $0.1285/kwh (Source)
**Heated fan with a 1600 heating element

How can I reduce bathroom fan electricity consumption?

Here are a few easy ways to reduce the energy consumption.

Buy a timer switch for your bathroom fan

Usually, the beginning of the day is very busy, everybody tries to sleep till the last second and it is easy to forget things.

Investing in a timer switch can in the long run save you more money than it costs. (Consider also the heat loss from excess ventilation during the winter months)

If you are looking for a timer switch head out to my list of top 9 timer switches.

Let’s say the morning started with the typical family’s morning chaos -everybody running around, trying to rush to work/school, and nobody remembered to turn off the bathroom fan. In that case it would keep running all day until someone finally gets home and turns it off.

Wouldn’t it be nice in this scenario if the fan would stop working automatically after 30 minutes it was last turned on? This will not only save money but extend the lifespan of the fan.

If the fan is left on for 3 hours extra every day it will cost an additional $65 in electricity costs over a 10 year period.

Invest in a Moisture Sensing Fan

Some bathroom fans come with a really useful extra feature – a moisture sensor, this is a must for a person like me, who simply forgets to turn on the fan before showering.

This is a built-in feature, so installing it is no more difficult than a normal fan, just make sure that you size the fan correctly to the hole in the ceiling/wall and the duct.

The sensor in the fan simply measures the moisture level in the room, when it passes a certain threshold it will automatically turn the fan on and keep it running until the moisture level drops back down to normal. This ensures that the room humidity stays within an acceptable range and your energy bills stay low, even when the person using the bathroom forgets about the fan.

Clean the fan regularly

While the bathroom fan is doing an excellent job sucking in moisture and directing it out of your home, it is also sucking in dust and lint from the air. Over time this will collect on the grill and blades of the fan.

As the dust collects on the fan it loses efficiency and runs longer, hotter, and uses more electricity in the process. All the dust accumulation will make the fan louder too. Most of the time when people clean their fans that solves the excessive noise problem as well.

In our article about why bathroom fans get noisy, we explain in more detail how to clean your bathroom fan.

You wouldn’t believe what the fan blades look like after a couple of years of neglect. I know it’s a chore climbing up the ladder and cleaning it, but it is well worth doing.

According to the American Society of Home Inspectors dirty bath fans can be a cause of fires. The fan relies on cool air moving over the fan motor to keep it cool. If the fan is filled with lint and dust the airflow is severely restricted. Combine a hot motor with dry lint and you have a recipe for disaster.

Buy a correct size fan for your bathroom

There are many different types and sizes of bathroom fans on the market today. It can be a challenge to pick the one that is right for your needs. It is wise to do some digging around and find out which one is optimal for your bathroom.

As I recently discovered when shopping for a new fan there are way too many options available with features that you will never need on a bathroom fan. This makes it difficult to concentrate on what really matters, noise level and CFM.

The general recommendation stated by the Home Ventilation Institute is 1 CFM per 1 sq. feet of space. This means for a 50 sq. feet bathroom you will need a 50 CFM fan. This is the minimum recommended value. However this is a generalization and does not apply to very big bathrooms or when you have multiple showers.

In a couple of weeks, I will put a calculator on this website that will make choosing the correct sized fan for your bathroom a much easier task.

Make sure you don’t get an underpowered fan thinking it will save you money. It will struggle to dry the room in a reasonable amount of time and will cost you more in the long run. So brew yourself a cup of joe and dive into the bathroom fan world.

How much does it cost to run a fan 24 7?

Running a medium-sized fan 24/7 will cost around $52 a year or $4 a month in electricity costs. Dual speed fan running on a low setting will cost around $25 per year or $2 a month.

Before you even consider running the fan 24/7 you should find out if your fan is rated for continuous operation. You can do that by finding out what model fan you have and googling for it’s manual. You can find the model number printed on the fan when you remove the grill.

However most bathroom exhaust fans are not designed to be on 24/7 and keeping them on for extended periods of time will dramatically shorten their lifespan. This is especially true for the smaller cheaper models that go through walls.

How to Find out if You Have a Heated Fan.

In case the electricity cost for the heated fan scared you, I will let you know how you can easily check if you have a heated fan.

By using only the exhaust fan the electricity usage is the same as a normal fan.

By checking if one of the settings blows air back into the room you can determine if it is a heated fan. Normal exhaust fans only suck the air out of the room. There should be an extra switch for the heater so that it is possible to use the heater independently of the exhaust fan.

How Long Should a Bathroom Fan Run After a Shower?

Let us start by saying that it is important not to forget to turn on the bathroom fan before you start showering, then you can be sure that all the moist air will be directed out the moment it appears.

After you have finished enjoying your relaxing shower it is recommended by the Home Ventilating Institute to keep the bathroom fan on for a minimum of 20 minutes after the shower, provided you have a correctly sized fan.

However this is the absolute minimum, normally it takes at least 40 minutes to properly dry out the room. This of-course will depend on your climate, the time of year, and how careful you are at drying the walls and floor after the shower. All the water on those surfaces will evaporate and can cause excess moisture build-up and potential mold problems.

Here is a picture from my smart home system that monitors the humidity in the bathroom. You can see how much the humidity rises with every shower, and how long it takes to drop back to normal.

Turning off the fan too soon or completely forgetting to turn it on can cause major problems over time including mold, mildew, and even structural damage in the most severe cases. Excess moisture can also cause allergy problems for some people.

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Joonas Pütsepp

I like it when I'm able to fix everything that needs fixing around the house. In order to do that, I have to do a lot of research. This site will cover everything I learn and maybe help others do the same.

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