Home Energy Hack: Cut Down HVAC Use with Ceiling Fans

Last month, we shared a Home Energy Hack on where to plant trees to increase shade and windbreak to save energy and money. We’re back with another helpful guide aimed at your HVAC system—the biggest use of energy for most homeowners. This time we’re headed indoors to harness the ancient and dependable cooling technology of the fan. We’re here to make sure your head isn’t spinning as you figure out how to set up fans in your home.

Wind Chilling

The Department of Energy says ceiling fans help the average homeowner adjust their thermostat by four degrees without sacrificing comfort. Those can be big savings over time! But ceiling fans don’t actually cool the air in your home. Instead, a fan maximizes the wind chill effect: By moving air around the room, fans can reduce body heat by helping air evaporate sweat from the skin making you feel cooler—even if the temperature in your room hasn’t changed.

Summer Spinning

In the summer, make sure your ceiling fan spins counterclockwise. This pushes air down. Cooler air naturally sits near the floor, while hot air rises. The counterclockwise motion moves cooler air to a level where you can feel it, making your room feel more comfortable.

Winter Whirring

It may seem odd to use a fan when you’re trying to get warm, but it works! In winter, you should reverse the setting on your ceiling fan to clockwise. While cool air sits near the floor, hot air pools near the ceiling. By forcing air upwards, the fan redistributes the warm air you’re getting from your HVAC system making your living space more comfortable. Once again, you should be able to adjust your thermostat a few degrees without losing any comfort.

Location, Location, Location

Any realtor will tell you about the importance of location when it comes to the value of your home. The same is true for the placement of ceiling fans. Many people naturally place a ceiling fan in the center of a room, and in a small room that works. However, in a larger room you should prioritize areas with seating so air is evenly distributed. For rooms larger than 18 feet long, you can use multiple fans spaced evenly at six to ten feet apart.

Running on Empty

Unlike your HVAC system, there’s no benefit to operating a fan when no one is around to feel its effects. You can treat your ceiling fan like a light bulb: Turn it off when you leave the room. 

That’s our hack for using ceiling fans to cut down on HVAC use at home—with absolutely no extra spin. Follow these tricks of the trade to lower your energy bill and you can save money all year long. For even more ideas on how to save money at home, follow Power Moves on your social media platform of choice and see if your co-op offers a home energy assessment to schedule a conversation with them today.