• Category:
    Energy Efficiency
  • Published:
    July 16, 2020
  • Updated:
    July 6, 2021

Which Way Should Your Ceiling Fan Turn in the Summer?

When the temperature goes up, often so does air conditioning usage. But the AC can eat up a lot of electricity, which can be expensive. That’s why it pays to find alternatives to air conditioning that use less energy, like ceiling fans. Whether you run them instead of the AC or together, a ceiling fan can help reduce your home energy usage. The only catch is that you must know the correct ceiling fan direction for summer.

Use ceiling fans to make rooms feel cooler during the summertime

In summer, you want your ceiling fan to push cold air down toward the floor. The breeze makes perspiration on your skin evaporate, creating a wind chill effect. People under a ceiling fan can feel several degrees cooler than the room’s actual temperature. By running your ceiling fan in the direction for cooling, you’ll rely on air conditioning less and help save energy in your home.

As mentioned, ceiling fans cool people, not rooms. They just affect airflow in the room they’re mounted above. So, when you leave the room, save energy by turning off the ceiling fan.

Which direction should your ceiling fan turn in the summer?

fan direction in summer

The correct ceiling fan direction for summer is counterclockwise. Running the blades in that direction ensures that the air blows straight down. As you stand under the fan and look up, you’ll see the blades start at the top left, move down and finally make their way up the right side to the top again.

More importantly, you should also feel the telltale breeze that means you’ve successfully set your ceiling fan direction for cooling. If you can’t feel anything yet, try increasing the fan’s speed.

Do you need to turn your ceiling fan in the opposite direction for winter?

Yes, the ceiling fan direction for winter is clockwise. When set at a low speed, your ceiling fan draws cool air up and forces warm air down. Redistributing warm air that collects near the ceiling helps make your room feel warmer and keeps you from needing to use more energy to raise the temperature.

To make sure your ceiling fan direction is right for warming, stand under the ceiling fan and look up. You should see the blades rotating in the direction the hands of a clock move: starting at top right, moving down and back up the left side to the top again. The speed should be set to low. You shouldn’t feel a breeze coming down.

How to change the direction of your ceiling fan

To change your ceiling fan direction, the most important thing is locating the switch that controls blade rotation. Traditional ceiling fan models have a toggle switch on the housing, just underneath the blades. (Sometimes the switch is on top of the fan, above the blades.) Some ceiling fans can be reversed by pressing a button on a wall-mounted control. Others come with remote controls — and smart ceiling fans can even be controlled with an app. (If you can’t locate the switch that changes blade rotation, consult the user manual that came with the fan or call the manufacturer.)

If you don’t have the ability to change your ceiling fan direction from the floor, you’ll need to climb up and change the blade rotation by hand.

how to change ceiling fan direction

Steps to take when switching the direction of your ceiling fan by hand:

  1. Get a sturdy ladder. Inspect it first to make sure your ladder is safe for use. You may need someone to hold the base of the ladder for support.
  2. Clear furniture or other obstacles underneath the ceiling fan. You should be able to set up your ladder directly under the fan. You shouldn’t have to stretch to reach the switch.
  3. Set up the ladder. You want it close enough that you can easily reach the blade direction switch.
  4. Turn off the ceiling fan. Many traditional models have cords or chains that hang down from the center. Each pull switches the ceiling fan’s speed and turns it off and on.
  5. WAIT FOR THE BLADES TO COMPLETELY STOP MOVING. Safety first! The blades can injure you if they’re still moving. Wait for them to come to a complete stop before proceeding to the next step.
  6. Locate the blade direction switch. Many ceiling fans have it on the housing, just under the blades. It may also be on top of the fan, above the blades.
  7. Flip the switch in the other direction. If it’s a vertical (up/down) switch, the down position is the ceiling fan direction for summer, and the up position is the direction for winter. (Think pushing air down and pulling air up.) For horizontal (side-to-side) switches, the left position should be the summer setting and the right position should be the winter setting.
  8. Turn the ceiling fan back on. Beforehand, make sure you’re safely out of the way of the blades. If you choose the ceiling fan direction for winter, make sure the speed is set to low.
  9. Confirm the blade direction. Look up to make sure the blades of the fan are moving in the right direction: counterclockwise for warm weather, clockwise for cold weather.

What ceiling fans are best for the summertime?

The ceiling fan that’s best for your summer use will depend on where it’s going and how much you want to spend. Ideally, you’ll want one with multiple speeds. You may want one that doubles as lighting, or that runs silently. And if you want to avoid climbing up and reversing the direction by hand, you should look into ceiling fans that have a wall-mounted or remote control.

Smaller rooms will be served well by smaller ceiling fans; bigger rooms will need larger, more powerful models and possible multiple units. The larger the fan, the more energy used. To cut down on energy use, you may want to get a ceiling fan with an ENERGY STAR® rating, which is up to 40% more efficient than a traditional ceiling fan. If your ceiling fan has lights, use LED bulbs for increased energy efficiency. You can also save energy by turning fans off when you leave the room.

And if you’re looking for additional ways to reduce AC use and improve energy efficiency, you may want to look into other types of fans.

Tips for each room of the house

Ceiling fans are suitable for indoor and outdoor use and can be mounted in nearly every room of your house. Size, type and installation will vary by location. Many also double as lighting, which may factor into your decision.

  • Ceiling fans in a bedroom — Keeping air circulating at night will help keep you cool and get a better night’s sleep in summer. Light sleepers will want a model that runs silently. And unless you have a very large bedroom, you’ll probably want a smaller ceiling fan with a flush mount (anchored only a few inches below the ceiling).
  • Ceiling fans in a bathroom or kitchen — Keeping air circulating in bathrooms and kitchens can help regulate temperature. However, those rooms often fill up with moisture, which can damage indoor-only models. Choose a ceiling fan with a damp rating for these rooms.
  • Ceiling fans in the living room — You’ll want a larger model for your living room or great room. Ceiling fans are most effective when their blades are about 8 or 9 feet off the floor, so you may need a downrod mount. A downrod simply lowers the fan from the mount secured to the ceiling. Pro tip: If your ceiling fan has been idle for a long time, dust the blades before you start it up again. Your family will breathe easier without all those dust particles kicked up into the air.
  • Ceiling fans in the dining room — Cool, circulating air can make for a pleasant summer dinner. But if you want a ceiling fan in your dining room, make sure you don’t install a more powerful fan than you need. You don’t want too much air blowing down on your family and guests, blowing napkins off the table. Look for a model with a low-speed option. Also, moving dining room furniture out of the way to change the ceiling fan direction can be taxing. If possible, you may want to consider a fan model that can be controlled remotely.
  • Ceiling fans for outdoor use — If Mother Nature isn’t cooperating with a nice breeze, a ceiling fan can be just the thing. Just make sure you get one that’s wet-rated, which means it won’t be damaged by the elements. If the area you want to cool won’t be directly exposed to rain, snow or ice, you may be able to get away with a damp-rated ceiling fan. Fans with a dry rating are meant for indoor use only and should never be used where they’ll be exposed to any moisture.

Staying cooler when it’s hot and warmer when it’s cold — and cutting energy consumption year-round — can be as simple as knowing the right ceiling fan direction for summer or winter. But using fans is just one of many energy-saving tips for summer. With some wise investment in the right equipment and some thoughtful changes to your daily routine, you can potentially lower your cooling and heating use during the year’s peak months.

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