Case Study: My Kmart fan has lasted three summers

Susie Newton


It’s news to no one that Sydney’s weather is unbearable at the moment. Thanks to our architectural forefathers, a lot of the charming old houses that young people cohabit were not designed with this extremity in mind. My house, for example, is a lovely terrace that is probably around 100 years old. My bedroom is upstairs, with one tiny window that catches the first six hours of searing sun every day. It is a literal sauna when I go to bed at night.


The solution for me, and probably the majority of students in share houses, is a cheap, crappy fan. Everyone has seen them: the piles of boxes in Kmart as soon as you walk in, tantalising you with the huge ‘$13’ sign. The perfect solution to your humid nights! The only problem is your mum’s voice in the back of your head: “you really should invest in a good-quality fan, it’ll last you much longer.” It’s a valid point, except you only have $50 in your account and this is a problem that needs an immediate solution. So you buy the fan, and after spending an hour assembling it you try to ignore the fact that it really doesn’t do that much.  


I have lived in my Inner West share house for three summers now, and I have some breaking news for mums out there. I still have the same fan I bought when I moved in! It may be caked in dust from 2016 but it still works in the less-than-desirable way it did when I bought it. It lives, along with my other two housemates’ fans, on the landing between our rooms during the cold winter months. The three of them sit huddled together, taking up the space quite awkwardly as they wait until they are summoned on the first 25 degree night of the summer.


I have compiled a list of handy tips that I’ve employed to keep my Kmart fan alive and healthy:

– Don’t overclean: it’s important for your fan to have at least a thin layer of dust on its blades so it feels like it belongs with the rest of the furniture in your share house.

– When you’re not using it, make sure you leave it somewhere in your house where there’s a lot of foot traffic. It needs to feel seen and appreciated all year round — just like you!

– Leave it running throughout the day — even when you’re not home — to ensure you really ‘break it in’.

– Every night, pray to the god of cheap white goods that your fan will live a long and semi-useful life.


I have another housemate who bought himself a ‘silent, remote-controlled fan’, claiming that it was the best purchase he’d ever made. The fan can only be controlled with the remote, and in a room as messy as his, that little device has no chance. We are into the second month of summer now and he has not been able to use his wizz-bang fan once — need I say more?


If that isn’t the greatest promotion for the Kmart fan, I urge you to go and buy one so you can really appreciate the just-too-loud whir sound it soothes you to sleep with. A true reminder that you should start budgeting better, or find a share house with air conditioning.