Fans are widely used in industrial and commercial applications. From shop ventilation to material handling to boiler applications, fans are critical for process support and human health. Fans are also found in many wastewater treatment plants and are essential for the activated sludge treatment process. In the U.S. manufacturing sector, fans consume approximately 79 billion kilowatt-hours per year, representing approximately 15% of the electricity used by motors[1].

In manufacturing, fan reliability is critical to plant operation. As a result, system designers often oversize fans to mitigate against uncertainties in production. However, this creates problems that can increase system energy and maintenance costs while decreasing fan reliability.

Energy-efficient operation of industrial fan systems requires attention to the needs of both individual equipment and the entire system. A “systems approach” takes into account how the individual components interact, thereby shifting the focus from individual components to total system performance.

Top Five Energy Efficiency Measures for Fan Systems

  1. Shut down fans when not needed by manufacturing processes
  2. Use variable speed control on fan motors instead of modulating dampers or inlet guide vanes for air flow control
  3. Ensure uniform airflow before fan inlet and after fan outlet to avoid swirls and vortices in the ducts
  4. Replace standard V-belts with cogged belts
  5. Operate close to Best Efficiency Point

You can read related TIP SHEETS AND PUBLICATIONS to improve performance and save energy, accumulated over time by the DOE Advanced Manufacturing Office.

Learn more with the FAN SYSTEM CHEAT SHEET, explore additional resources specific to Better Plants partners, and connect with the fans-subject matter expert below.

[1] Improving Fan System Performance: A Sourcebook for Industry. April, 2003.


Learn about innovative, replicable fan system-solutions and best practices implemented by Better Plants Challenge partners.

Toyota: Fan System Upgrade

Spurred by a successful pilot project at its facility in West Virginia, Toyota implemented a comprehensive heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system upgrade at its Georgetown, Kentucky, plant that is expected to result in over $700,000 a year in energy savings, or about 2.5% of the plant’s total electric spend.


The fan systems sourcebook was developed for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO). AMO undertook this project as a series of sourcebook publications. Other topics in this series include: compressed air systems, steam, process heating, pumping, and motor and drive systems.

Improving Fan System Performance: A Sourcebook for Industry

This sourcebook is designed to provide fan system users with a reference outlining opportunities to improve system performance. It is not intended to be a comprehensive technical text on improving fan systems, but rather a document that makes users aware of potential performance improvements, provides some practical guidelines, and details where the user can find more help.


Access free software tools to help assess your fan system.

Fan System Assessment Tool (FSAT)

The Fan System Assessment Tool is a free online software tool that helps industrial users quantify energy use and savings opportunities in industrial fan systems. Use FSAT to understand how well your fan systems are operating, determine the economic benefit of system modifications, and establish which options are most economically viable when multiple opportunities exist for system modification.


Pre-In-Plant Training Webinar (Fan Systems)

This pre-In-Plant Training webinar for the Better Plants Program covers the basics of finding energy savings in industrial fan systems.

Subject Matter Expert - Thomas Wenning

Thomas Wenning is a program manager for industrial energy efficiency at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). As a member of ORNL’s Energy and Transportation Science Division, he manages ORNL’s domestic and international industrial energy efficiency technology assistance and deployment activities. He also supports the DOE’s Better Buildings, Better Plants program and the Federal Energy Management Program by providing industrial sites with technical assistance activities, energy assessments and training, and energy management guidance. Tom also manages the student activities for the US DOE’s Industrial Assessment Center program. He has led numerous international industrial energy efficiency workshops, trainings, and assessments on behalf of the US DOE. Tom is a registered Professional Engineer, a Certified Practitioner in Energy Management Systems, an SEP-Performance Verifier, and a DOE Qualified Specialist in the areas of steam, pumps, and fans.

You can reach Tom with fan systems-related questions at