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Using Ceiling Fans Properly

Posted June 11, 2008

Using Ceiling Fans Properly

Ceiling fans are a great way to keep cool in the summer and warm in the winter if you know how to use them properly. Though there is much confusion on the subject, it’s not that hard as long as you remember two simple rules.

Rule #1: Run ceiling fans counterclockwise on medium to high speeds during hot weather only when the room is occupied.

Ceiling fans make you feel cooler in the summer by creating an artificial breeze that evaporates moisture from your skin. This allows you to set your thermostat higher, saving money on air conditioning bills.

When a ceiling fan rotates counterclockwise (while looking up at it), the slant of the blades pushes air down, causing a noticeable breeze. The faster the fan spins, the cooler you feel. This cooling effect doesn’t change the temperature of the air, it only makes you feel cooler. That is why you should turn the fan off when the room is empty. Otherwise, heat from the motor will actually increase the temperature in the room.

Rule #2: Run ceiling fans on low in a clockwise direction during cold weather.

Ceiling fans can produce the opposite effect in the winter by gently circulating hot air that is trapped near the ceiling. Since heat rises, the temperature near the ceiling is greater than at floor level. This is particularly true in houses with high ceilings or those with heating systems that do not circulate the air.

The reason the fan is set to rotate clockwise on low is to keep from creating a strong draft, which would cool you down just like it does in summer. Instead, the air near the ceiling is pushed up and outward, causing it to circulate down near the perimeter of the room.

Since the air at floor level is warmer, the thermostat can be set lower, saving money and helping the environment at the same time. Any heat generated by the fan’s motor is a bonus in the winter, so you can keep it running whether you are present in the room or not.

Follow these two simple rules, and your house will feel more comfortable while being a little greener at the same time.

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