You may have heard that reversing a ceiling fan can help keep you warmer during the winter (and also cooler during the summer) while saving energy and reducing your utility costs. It’s a simple fix that sounds almost too good to be true, so is there any truth to these claims?
Why does the direction of my ceiling fan matter? According to Apartment Therapy, running your ceiling fans during the cold winter months can help you save as much as 10 percent on your heating costs. How is this possible?
The blades of a ceiling fan are angled slightly. During the summer, when your fan is spinning counterclockwise, those angled blades help move air down. You know it’s working because you can feel a cool breeze when standing directly underneath the fan. This is called the wind chill effect and it makes you feel cooler. Things change a bit during winter once your heating system kicks on.
Warm air always rises (which is why attics and upper levels of homes are so much warmer than lower levels), so the warm air generated by your furnace naturally rises up to the ceiling while cooler air sinks toward the floor. When you switch the direction that your ceiling fan’s blades turn (so that they’re spinning clockwise), that cold air is drawn upward. This updraft forces the warmer air back down toward you and your family.
Changing the directional settings of a fan can have a profound effect on air circulation. Your ceiling fans should go counterclockwise during warming months to create cool downward airflow. However, it should go at a low speed in a clockwise motion during the cooler months so it can help evenly distribute warm air.
Most ceiling fans have a small switch that allows you to change the direction the blades spin. You may need to poke around a bit and remove some screws to find the switch on your model, but it’s there!
For the best results, run your fan on a low setting to stimulate air movement and stay warm all winter long.