Tower fan vs. window air conditioner: Which is more cost efficient?

Tower fan vs. window air conditioner: Which is more cost efficient?
(Image credit: Home Depot)

If like many people at this time of year you’re deciding between a tower fan vs window air conditioner in an attempt to battle against the summer heat, then you’re in the right place, as we have all the information on what will be best for your home. That way, you won’t have to suffer another sleepless night of unpleasant hotness, especially if you don’t have a central air conditioner installed in your home.

In apartments and homes around the US, central AC isn’t a viable option, so many people turn to the help of either the best tower fans or the best window air conditioners for a cool breeze to bring them some respite. If you’re in the same boat, you might be unsure which option is most effective, in terms of both efficiency and cost. 

When it comes to the question of tower fans vs window air conditioners, the outcome is finding a model that will relieve you in the heat without breaking your bank. Here’s what we’d recommend in order to find the right choice for you this summer....

Energy Usage

Tower fan vs. window air conditioner: Which is more cost efficient?

Tower fans can be an attractive addition to your home.  (Image credit: Home Depot)

When it comes to a traditional window AC unit, there are three distinct parts: The compressor, a condenser and an evaporator. The unit works by using a chemical (Freon) that basically takes in warm air from the surroundings, cools it and then pushes it back out through the vents, so you get cooler air. Because there are several processes happening at once, a window AC uses more energy than a traditional tower fan. Tower fans work by simply pushing air outward, without actually cooling it. Therefore, they use much less energy than an AC unit. In fact, the average AC uses about 3500 watts, or 3.5 kWh, in just one hour, while a fan uses only 2.4 kWh in 24 hours.


Tower fan vs. window air conditioner: Which is more cost efficient?

Window air conditioners often cost more than tower fans. (Image credit: Home Depot)

If you're going for cool air with a window air conditioner unit, you'll pay more than if you were to grab a standard tower fan. Usually, window air conditioner units start at about $300 for a basic model, with prices going up as you add features, like a sleep timer. Tower fans are relatively inexpensive, with one exception. A traditional tower fan will probably cost between $30 and $80, but new designs, such as the Dyson Pure Cool TP04 tower fan, are much more expensive, at around $400. You'll also need to consider the cost of operation. Using up more energy, a window air conditioner will typically cost you more on your utility bill, so make sure you factor in all of the expenses before buying.


Tower fan vs. window air conditioner: Which is more cost efficient?

Window air conditioners are more efficient than tower fans.  (Image credit: Home Depot)

This is the category where the window air conditioner is a clear winner. Since it actively cools the air, you'll drastically drop the temperature in any room where a unit is installed. With a fan, you shouldn't expect dropped temperatures, just a more comfortable sensation. Tower fans might alter the room temperature a few degrees, but it's really the moving air that gives you a sense of coolness. In reality, the window air conditioner unit is much better at giving you a total reprieve from summer heat.

Tower fan vs. window air conditioner: Which should you buy?

If you’re set on making a choice between either a tower fan or a window air conditioner and need your solution to be a more permanent one, our suggestion would be to opt for a reliable window air conditioner with low running costs, such as the LG Dual Inverter. Though the up-front cost of this model is larger, it’s efficient to run and it won’t ruin the vibe of your home, with its sleek minimalist look. 

If you need something that’s affordable over any other factor, then a tower fan will help you keep costs down, both initially and in the future. It won’t be as effective as a window air conditioner, but it’ll certainly help you through those extremely hot days. 

If you need to ramp up the efficiency of either your window air conditioner or tower fan, then we’d suggest combining their strengths together. The setup we would recommend would be a tower fan in front of your window AC, which can help push the cold air farther away for top-tier cooling. 

With this duo, you’ll be much more likely to enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep in the height of summer. For more help in surviving the summer heat, check out our guide to the Top 10 Tips for how to sleep when it’s hot at night

Tower fan vs window air conditioner: Final things to consider  

Before you hit ‘checkout’ on your new air conditioner or tower fan savior, remember to get a picture of how user-friendly it is too. Of course, one crucial concern with any cooling appliance is noise. 

If you know you’re more sensitive to that background hum that often comes with fans, then make sure to read up on user reviews before you make your final choice. And if you’re particularly choosy about your interiors, think about whether your new AC or fan will fit into the carefully curated space you’ve designed.

Molly Cleary

Molly is the Staff Writer for the Home Section at Top Ten Reviews, joining the team after finishing college. When she's not writing she enjoys baking and embroidery, as well as getting stuck into a good book. She now enjoys writing about kitchen appliances, gardening tools, and will even dip her toe into writing about fridges and ovens.