I don’t often quote Voltaire in my head when thinking about ceiling fans, but a line from the poem “La Béguele” came en tête when I learned about proposed legislation that would potentially increase costs significantly for the category in order to achieve modest gains in energy efficency: “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” Something that is already beneficial — providing airflow to keep rooms cool and reduce the need for air conditioning — might be made impractical for some to purchase in an attempt to make it more efficient in its operation.
I don’t often quote Rodney Dangerfield in my head alongside Voltaire either, but ceiling fans already get “no respect” from some designers and others who have an outdated impression of fans as eyesore appliances, a necessary evil in climates that require them, the first thing to go in any home makeover show. Progressive designs have invigorated the category with more excitement. Many fan styles can now hold their own as substitutes for standout lighting fixtures, swirling centerpieces that enhance a room’s décor and its comfort. But fan design freedom is also at stake in the new legislation that favors function over form.
It seems counterintuitive to me to take a product that is by nature designed to save energy on one front and restrict its creation to such a degree that it becomes cost-prohibitive for some or perhaps unattractive to others. This brings another quote to mind from Oscar Wilde (someone whom I enjoy quoting often in just about any context): “No good deed goes unpunished.”
Fortunately, the American Lighting Assn. (ALA) — an effective voice of reason for our industry in such matters — has taken charge of this issue as well, meeting with ceiling fan manufacturers in April to draft an official response to the ceiling fan and light kit framework document. The public can also comment on the document through June 14 at www.regulations.gov  (search “ceiling fans”).
In a related effort, Fanimation actually has proposed a National Ceiling Fan Day on Sept. 18. The concept is somewhat similar to Earth Hour, when Americans were asked to turn their lights off for an hour to save energy. The fan “holiday” would encourage Americans to turn off their air conditioning for an entire day to feel how much of an effect ceiling fans can have on their own. This campaign would also include an educational component to optimize consumers’ proper use of fans, maximizing their assets as energy savers without resorting to restrictive mandates.
These are the sort of creative solutions that have real potential to resonate with the public, particuarly if they go viral. It’s a theme showrooms can build advertising and events around. And it would be nice to see something positive come from ... this ... hitting the fan.