Everyday Cheapskate: Let's Clear up the Mystery of Ceiling Fan Direction
Most ceiling fans have a switch with two options. Forward spins one way and Reverse the other. But why? What for? Who made that rule?
Years ago, a reader sent in her handy tip, passed along from her husband, a heating and air conditioning specialist: "In the winter, make your ceiling fans spin counterclockwise." Or was that clockwise? To be honest, it totally slipped my mind as soon as I shared it.
But I do remember the barrage of responses I received. Some thanked me for printing the correct answer to the burning question, while others told me I was wrong and it should spin in the opposite direction. But why?!
Today, I have the answers.
To make this easy, first we need to understand the principle behind moving air. You may be familiar with the terms "wind chill" and "heat index." These terms indicate what the temperature feels like, not what it is in reality on the thermometer.
Ceiling fans cannot reduce the temperature inside your home in the summer, but they can certainly make you feel like they do. Ditto for making you feel warmer in the winter. A ceiling fan that is set properly can make you feel as if the temperature is either cooler or warmer.
Knowing how to use fans in summer to send a rush of air downward, cooling your skin and making it seem up to eight degrees cooler than it is, lowers the chill factor.
Knowing how to use fans to circulate hot air in winter is equally important because you will be able to increase your heat index while creating less actual heat.