Smart Robotic Ceiling Fan Wants To Save You Money On Heating Bills

robotfanConsumers are often advised to install ceiling fans as a way to feel cooler in the summer without actually running the AC, but can a “smart” ceiling fan save you some money on your heating bill? The whimsically-named industrial fan company Big Ass Fans thinks so. Unveiled at CES 2015: a “smart” ceiling fan that they claim could save consumers an estimated $200 on winter energy bills.

The pricey smart-fan has been around awhile, (here’s an article from Cnet with a photo of an editor trying to break the bamboo fan blade and failing) but soon will feature Winter Mode, an automated fan operation that combines the company’s hi-tech Haiku with SenseME ceiling fan with Nest thermostats.

According to Big Ass Fans, Winter Mode allows heating systems to run for less time, saving users up to 25%, or an average of $200, during the winter months.

Winter Mode, which will be available in February, automates the fan so as to gently push warm air down to occupant level.

You may have heard that reversing your fan in the winter helps move the rising hot air more effectively, but Katheran Wasson, spokesperson for Big Ass Fans tells Consumerist that testing by the company found that simply reversing a fan actually causes more of a draft. Instead, the Haiku uses sensors to behave in a more nuanced fashion.

“The fan has an occupancy sensor, as well, so it knows when you’re there and when you’re not,” she says. “When you’re in the room SenseME tells the fan to speed up, getting the hot air off the ceiling, but when you return the fan slows back down.”

Users with Nest thermostats can easily opt into Winter Mode when they turn on their heater, Wasson says. Those without a Nest thermostat can still use Winter Mode, but they have to activate it manually.

Can a smart robot ceiling fan with temperature and motion sensors and wifi actually save you some cash? We have absolutely no idea. It clearly wants to. One thing is certain: While the company estimates a hefty energy-saving during the winter months, the initial investment in the SenseME fan and Winter Mode isn’t exactly cheap. The price for your semi-literal robot overlord starts at around $1,000.