Okay. True. When it’s 34 degrees outside, the air is sticky with all manner of mystery vapour, the sun’s beating down on a rare blue-sky day and the weatherman told us the UV index would be 166 it’s hard not to crave a little air conditioning when we get to work or back home. But as we’ve been told so many times, A/C is filthy as well as a great way to burn major cash. It’s beautiful to walk into, but sometimes it’s a bit much. Only in Hong Kong do you need a sweater to ride the bus or see a movie.
The combination of rising costs to both one’s personal bank balance and Mother Earth have made fans — ceiling fans in particular — an increasingly viable alternative to A/C, and there is no shortage of suppliers and retailers in Hong Kong that can deck you out. Fans are already standard issue at most resort properties, but they’re starting to find a place in our homes too.
Sure, in the hottest parts of July and August we may need both, but Jennifer McBride at fan specialist Life’s a Breeze points out, “A fan uses a lot less power than an air conditioner and cools you, not the room. A ceiling fan costs the same to run for 24 hours as it costs to run A/C for one hour. It can save you up to 45 percent off your electricity bills, and is much better for your health especially if you have asthma, children and babies.”
Fan distributor el: ar’s sales manager Chris Leung agrees. “Yes, air conditioners dry the air and cool you down but it’s not always comfortable and A/C consumes a lot of energy. In hot summers you need both, but you can set the temperature lower and have a ceiling fan to better circulate the flow around the home. A ceiling fan motor only consumes about 30 to 60 watts. That’s a lightbulb.” Air quality can also be an issue, but in a city where many a doctor would recommend opening a window instead ahead of breathing in toxin-heavy indoor air, that improved circulation becomes crucial.
Naturally, the big issue with the ceiling fan is image. Back in the day brown wicker mesh dominated the fan-scape and left behind a lingering disinterest in something one might find in the shrine to elegance that is Graceland. No more. “The designs released over the last five years are amazing, available in all different shapes, colours and sizes,” McBride notes. “They are available for indoors and out also with a misting function. There’s a fan available to suit all budgets and with excellent warranties. There really isn’t any excuse not to have a fan especially as everybody is so environmentally aware.”
Leung also attributes the rise in ceiling fan interest in the SAR to superior functional (through careful blade angling for instance) and aesthetic (a wide variety of materials and colours) design. “In the past people didn’t consider ceiling fans because they weren’t that nice looking. They were outdated,” he theorises of Hong Kong consumers. But the combination of environmentalism, cost and multi-tasking — many ceiling fans come with light fixtures — has breathed new life into an old product. “That’s our message. This is a product that’s fairly new here. The quality is better, the designs are better, streamlined and very contemporary,” Leung finishes. Sadly, the toga-clad Roman with grapes at the ready is not included.