Did you know that you can use ceiling fans year-round to save money and energy on cooling and heating costs? That’s right, your fan can actually make you feel warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer!
HOW CEILING FANS WORK
While ceilings fans do NOT lower (or raise) the temperature of the room, we all know from first-hand experience that wind and circulating air makes us feel cooler. This is caused by a wind-chill effect on the skin. A ceiling fan can also make you feel warmer, not with the wind itself, but by using the fan to move warm air near the ceiling down to the living spaces below.
Remember, ceiling fans warm and cool people, not rooms. Turn off any fans when you leave the room.
DO CEILING FANS SAVE ENERGY?
Compared to a furnace or air conditioner, a ceiling fan is basically free to run. Costing only a few cents at most per hour, it makes economic sense to use the cooling and warming powers of a fan all year.
- In the winter, the floors are freezing while the air near the ceiling and upper levels are warm.
- Likewise, in the summer, our bottom floors feel comfortable enough, but the upper stories and attic can be intolerable.
- Reversing the ceiling fan makes the air go up and down the wall, helping to redistribute the heat down to the floor.
GETTING THE MOST FROM YOUR HOME HEATING
When you turn on your heating system, whether it is a boiler, heat pump, or furnace, the heat gets transferred to the rooms in your home where it rises toward the ceiling. Think of a hot air balloon. In addition to the “heat rises” problem, if you have air leaks in your home when the air is rising out of the attic, the negative pressure inside the home compensates by pulling in the cold air near the floor.
If you have very high ceilings, you know how long it takes to get warm. Homes with leaky ceilings and attics will have a hard time staying comfortable. Unfortunately, the heat that enters our homes heads to the ceiling, not near the ground where humans and pets are. To fix the problem, we recommend air sealing and using ceiling fans. Speak with a professional about how to improve the energy efficiency and comfort of your home.
DO CEILING FANS HELP IN WINTER?
Yes, ceiling fans can absolutely help during winter. Using them is a more economical way to keep warm than relying solely on your home heating system because they use less power.
HOW DO THEY WORK IN SUMMER?
The angled blades of your ceiling fan will blow air downwards during the summer when it is running counterclockwise (forward). You will feel the air blowing on you when you stand underneath the fan. According to the U.S. EPA, with a ceiling fan, you can lower the thermostat around 4°F with no reduction in comfort.
WHAT DIRECTION SHOULD A CEILING FAN SPIN?
Ceiling fans should rotate in a clockwise direction in winter, which will cause the fan to blow cold air towards the ceiling. By turning the fan to low for a continuous and gentle updraft, warm air will circulate from top to bottom.
Ceiling fans should rotate in a counterclockwise direction in the summer, which will cause the fan to blow cold air towards the floor. By turning the fan to low for a continuous and gentle downdraft, cool air will circulate from top to bottom.
Some older ceiling fans don’t have the reverse switch. Consider upgrading your ceiling fan for year-round efficiency and comfort.
CEILING FAN BENEFITS
- Running ceiling fans in reverse can save you around 10% on heating and air conditioning costs.
Ceiling fans allow you to raise or lower the temperature of your thermostat (depending on the season) about 4°F with no reduction in comfort. This could be the difference between a running or a silent HVAC system. The less you use the HVAC system, the longer it will last.
- Moving warm air downward reduces the amount of escaped heat in the attic. The less escaping air, the less of a stack effect. Sealing air leaks around your home, especially the basement and attic will help even more.
- Ceilings fans improve airflow and your home’s indoor air quality. While ceiling fans should never serve as your only ventilation method, they can help circulate stale air and prevent moisture problems, such as mold.