How to Get Your Ceiling Fan Spinning in the Right Direction

Candace Nelson
Written by Candace Nelson
Updated May 25, 2022
A mother assisting her sons in making crafts
Photo: Cavan Images / Cavan / Getty Images

Highlights

  • Ceiling fans can help you feel warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

  • Set the ceiling fan to spin counterclockwise in the hot summer months.

  • A clockwise spin at a low speed can redistribute warm air from the ceiling in the winter.

  • Fans cool people, not rooms, so there’s no need to run them when you aren’t home.

  • Ceiling fans use less energy than heaters and air conditioners, so using them can save money.

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The ceiling fan might be one of the most overlooked tools in the house for heating and cooling efficiency. They can help you feel 4 degrees cooler in the summer and cozier in the winter. If you only think about your ceiling fan when you notice how dusty the blades are, it’s time to take a closer look.

Set the Ceiling Fan Direction to Cut Energy Costs

On the ceiling fan base, you’ll usually find a switch that changes the direction the blades turn from clockwise to counterclockwise and vice versa. It’s worth grabbing a step stool twice a year and switching the direction the blades turn. While you’re at it, you can take this time to clean the ceiling fan blades

When switching the ceiling fan’s spin direction, turn the fan off and wait until it comes to a complete stop. Then flip the switch on the base or the fan’s remote.

Change the Ceiling Fan Direction in the Summer

A young man adjusting a ceiling fan
Photo: Yoke Fong Moey / E+ / Getty Images

Your ceiling fans should spin counterclockwise on a fast setting in the summer months. This helps push cooler air down and away from the ceiling and into the room. It also helps keep the temperature in the room consistent. Even if the room is warm, cooling a room with fans will feel cooler on your skin, just like you might feel on a windy day. 

A simple test to check that the blades are going in the right direction is to stand directly under the fan. You've got it right if you feel a gentle, cooling breeze like you’d feel on a beach vacay.

Because ceiling fans cool people rather than the room itself, you can turn them off when you’re not using the room. A simple flip of a switch saves even more energy.

Ceiling Fans Give Air Conditioners an Assist

Ceiling fans and air conditioners are powerful partners. When the air conditioning is on, you might not think to turn on the fans, but doing so can save energy. Ceiling fans can make you feel about 4 degrees cooler, so you can set the thermostat higher and still feel comfortable.

An air conditioner can use 3,500 watts of power when it’s running. A ceiling fan uses significantly less at about 50 watts of power. Flip on the ceiling fan, and you could use your air conditioner 15% less. That means you get a comfortable house and lower energy bills.

Change the Ceiling Fan Direction Again in the Winter

You may never give a second thought to your ceiling fan in the winter, but it won’t leave you chilled if it’s turning in the right direction. In the colder months, flip the switch on the ceiling fan base, so the blades are spinning clockwise. The clockwise rotation of the blades pulls the cooler air from the room up and forces the warmer air near the ceiling back down into the room. 

With the fan turning clockwise, you’ll have fewer cool spots in the room, and you’re less likely to turn the heat up a couple of degrees. Just run the ceiling fan at a low speed because fast speeds will leave you feeling a breeze.

Position Ceiling Fan Blades

For most types of ceiling fans, make sure that your ceiling fan blades are in the correct position. Ceiling fan blades sit at an angle between 10 and 15 degrees, known as a pitch angle. A zero-degree angle would be parallel with the floor. 

Any more than 15 degrees and your work papers might go flying around the room. The fan would also be noisy and use more energy due to increased drag. The parts could also wear faster. Without some angle, though, you won’t get much air movement.

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