As temperatures drop, you may be wondering about some quick and easy ways to keep your home warm while keeping your energy usage low. Regardless of how you heat your home, one thing is common knowledge: heat rises. More specifically, hot air rises. Managing that fact is one of the keys to a warm and efficient home. So, how do you keep the warm air where you want it?
We might not all remember our high school physics lessons, but the laws of thermodynamics tell us that warm air tends to rise. Cold air is denser (so, heavier) than warm air, which means that in the cooler months, less-dense warm air particles float up to the highest point in a room. So frustratingly, the warmest part of any room is probably up near the ceiling. This is especially true in homes with high ceilings, multiple levels, or attics that haven’t been insulated against the rest of the home.
But even though hot air rises, it can be made to fall and circulate with a little purposeful airflow. Your heating system is already making warm air, it might just be getting stuck up at the ceiling. But if you can keep that warm air moving down towards your living areas, you can cut down on your energy bills and keep your space more comfortable without cranking the thermostat up. You may even find that you can turn your thermostat down a few degrees and still feel comfortable! So, how do you get that warm air down?
Fortunately, there’s a super simple answer: keep your ceiling fans on! Most people only think about their ceiling fans in the summer, when the breeze can help keep you feeling cool. But did you know that your ceiling fan can also help in winter?
Almost all ceiling fans can spin in both directions. Usually, there is a little switch on the base that toggles between clockwise and counterclockwise rotation, although some newer fans may have a remote control for this. Fan blades are beveled, so the direction of the rotation affects the direction that the air is pushed when the fan rotates. You can use this to your advantage to both heat and cool your home.
Here are two simple rules for using your ceiling fans in the winter months:
1) Set your fan to move clockwise as you look up at it. This will pull the cooler air up, which then will force the warmer air near the ceiling down along the walls, creating a little circling effect that will keep your living space warmer overall.
2) Keep your fan at low speed to make sure you’re not creating a strong breeze that could make you feel chilly.
Even if you don’t have ceiling fans, you can still create this air circulation effect in your home down using wall-mounted or tabletop fans. Just tilt the head all the way up towards the center of the ceiling and set the fan on low speed. This should encourage the cool air upwards and bring the warm air down where you want it!
Making sure your home is well-heated and energy-efficient can involve a lot of work, but sometimes, the little fixes can make a big difference and save a lot of energy and money. So once you turn your heat on for the season, make sure to set your ceiling fans to rotate clockwise to keep that warm air moving where you want it!