I don’t know about you, but I LOVE those articles about the everyday things most people are doing wrong.  Like, “Oh, peeling a banana? Pretty sure at 33 I’ve got that one figured out.Wrong!

So, when I recently saw an article about how most people are using ceiling fans wrong, I knew I had to check it out!

Since we are right in the middle of cooling season (and what feels to be one of the 9 circles of hell) I thought this would be a great time to set the record straight on some important ceiling fan facts.  Here’s the deal…


Ceiling Fans Heat Your Room

Crazy, right?  So while fans are capable of cooling people, they actually make the room warmer.  This is because the motor in the fan creates heat, which warms the air that is then blown down into the room.

The cooling effect you feel when lounging underneath a fan is due to air movement across your skin, not a reduction in air temperature.  This means that unless you can feel the wind from a fan, it is doing absolutely nothing to make you cooler.

IMPORTANT: If you are fan-sleeper married to a fan-hater, as I am, feel free to use this fact to convince your lovey that a blanket will eliminate most of the cooling effect from the “torture device” hanging above your heads.


Your Ceiling Fan Might Not Reduce Energy Usage

It may seem obvious, but ceiling fans use electricity (energy).  If you want to reduce household energy usage, you must combine your ceiling fan with a reduction in AC temperature.

According to Dr. Allison Bailes, there are 3 ways to do this:

  • “Turning off the air conditioner when ceiling fans will suffice
  • Setting the thermostat to a higher temperature by using ceiling fans to keep cool
  • Turning off ceiling fans in unoccupied rooms

If you do all those things, the most optimistic projections show that you might cut your air conditioning bill by 15%. Then you add back in the energy that you’re using for the ceiling fans, and you start to see how difficult it is to save energy this way.”


Ceiling Fans Can Reduce Efficacy of Smoke Detectors

While fans do not seem to totally prevent smoke detectors from working, they do delay detection time by 34 seconds, on average.  Because fans work by moving air, it is no surprise that they can inhibit the efficacy of smoke detectors.

According to father-daughter researchers, Dan and Elyse Gottuk, the best practice for fan placement is at least 3 feet from the nearest smoke detector.


There is No Evidence That Running Your Fan In The Winter Saves Energy

Many newer fan models have settings for running the fan in regular (summer) mode (breeze blows downward) and in reverse (winter) mode (breeze blows toward the ceiling).

The idea is simple.  An upward facing breeze will force warm air (which rises, if you’ll remember from 5th grade science) down into the room, reducing the need for mechanical heating.

The problem is that no one has ever been able to prove it.


How to Use a Fan the Right Way

  • Only use fans when people are in the room, and then on the lowest comfortable speed
  • The bigger the fan blades, the greater the area of air flow (and, thus, people-cooling effect); When purchasing a fan, buy the largest blades that will fit in your space
  • Tip of fan blades should be no closer than 36″ to nearest smoke detector
  • Don’t use fans in the winter



7 Things You May Not Know About Ceiling Fans

Using Ceiling Fans To Keep Cool Without AC

Effect of Ceiling Fans on Smoke Alarm Performance


8 Healthy Home Tests

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