In the middle of a hot Omaha summer, your ceiling fans are probably on full blast—racing to beat the heat and generate a cool indoor breeze. But did you know your ceiling fan can be just as effective at improving your indoor comfort in the cold of winter, too?
It sounds counterintuitive, but switching your fan direction in the winter is one of the ways you can warm up your rooms—without having to crank up the heat.
Read on to learn how changing your winter fan rotation can reduce your energy bills and keep your family warm all season long!
How does swapping your ceiling fan direction for winter keep your rooms warmer?
Strap in, it’s time for a brief science lesson!
Hot air rises because it’s less dense than cold air. As the molecules in hot air heat up, they expand and become lighter than the surrounding colder air. This makes them rise, bringing the warm air up towards your ceiling, while pushing colder air down towards the ground. To make matters worse, if your room is over a crawl space or garage, where the ground has less insulation and more cold air can get underneath the floor, the lower half of that room will become even colder.
But when you switch on your ceiling fan, and ensure it’s spinning in the right direction for winter, the blade motion pushes that toasty air down while drawing the colder air upwards. That redistribution alone can reduce your winter energy usage by as much as 15%!
Which way should a ceiling fan spin in winter?
Your fan’s winter mode will cause it to spin in a clockwise direction. The winter fan direction causes your fan blades to pull air upwards, creating an effective updraft.
Be sure your fan is set to low, so the effect of the warming updraft outweighs the cooling effect of moving air.
Bonus: Want more tips for preparing your home for the bone-chilling cold of winter? Check out these 7 ways to protect your home plumbing when temperatures drop!
How to change your fan direction for winter
Most ceiling fans have a small switch on the motor housing or hub of the fan. This switch allows you to change the direction of your fan blades, while the unit is off, with just a click. The switch may also be located inside the fan’s housing, and you’ll need a screwdriver to remove the cover. On older fans, the blades themselves can be removed from your unit, and reinstalled in the opposite direction.
If you can’t find the direction switch, and it doesn’t appear that your fan blades are easily removable, look up your fan’s operating manual. With a quick search, you should be able to find a copy of the instructions, or a quick how-to video.
If you have high ceilings, you may not need to change your ceiling fan direction in winter
In particularly tall rooms, like living rooms with vaulted ceilings, the ceiling fan is high enough to redistribute your warmer air, even in summer mode, without creating a cooling effect.
Before you break out the ladder and shimmy up to that 20-foot-high ceiling fan, try running your fan on low for an hour or two. If that airflow has you feeling more shivery than cozy, swap the fan rotation direction and try again.
Still not convinced you should change your ceiling fan rotation for winter? Here are three more reasons!
You may be skeptical about the recirculation effect of a clockwise-spinning fan, but there are multiple benefits to increasing airflow through your home.
1. Reduced condensation. Airflow helps move humidity through your home and away from susceptible areas like the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room. That reduces the condensation that clings to your windows and protects your interior from mold and mildew.
2. Lightens the load for your home furnace. In winter, your furnace is your home’s MVP. By helping your furnace move warm air through your home, your ceiling fans actually allow the furnace to work less hard while achieving more evenly distributed heat.
3. Extend the life of your furnace. Not only can your ceiling fan make your furnace’s job easier, all that time off adds up! By resting your furnace throughout the day, you can effectively extend its life a bit longer, giving you more time to plan and save for a new, energy-efficient heating system.
In the heat of summer and cold of winter, Burton’s HVAC and furnace experts have you covered
Your winter-mode fan is only as good as the hard-working furnace supplying your home with endless warm air. If your furnace is faulty, all the ceiling fans at your big box store won’t keep your toes warm this winter! So when it’s time for a furnace tune-up, repair, or replacement, Just Call Burton!