How Changing Your Ceiling Fan Direction Can Keep Your Home Cooler

Learn how to set your ceiling fan direction for summer and winter to keep your home comfortable year-round.

Ceiling fans can make a stuffy room feel pleasantly cool, but unlike air conditioners, they don't actually lower the temperature. Instead, fans generate a breeze, creating a sort of wind-chill effect as the moving air helps you eliminate body heat. But if your ceiling fan is just pushing around hot air, this phenomenon won't be nearly as effective. To keep your home cool in the summertime (and comfortably warm in the winter), you might need to change the direction of your ceiling fan's blades.

living room with sectional and sofa table two ceiling fans
James Nathan Schroder

The way your ceiling fan blades rotate determines how air circulates in the room. As warm air naturally rises, cool air tends to settle near the floor. In the summer, ceiling fans should spin counterclockwise, which creates a downdraft that redistributes cool air around the room. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, running a ceiling fan correctly can allow you to bump up your thermostat by about 4°F with no reduction in comfort. And since ceiling fans use much less energy than most air conditioning units, this is a smart way to cut down cooling costs during the warmer months.

When colder weather hits, your ceiling fan should be set to rotate clockwise to help distribute heat coming from your furnace, fireplace, or space heater. By creating an updraft, the fan pulls cool air from below up toward the ceiling and pushes the warm air around the room, effectively eliminating any cold pockets. Just be sure to set the fan to low speed so it doesn't create a wind-chill effect.

How to Change Your Ceiling Fan Direction

Most ceiling fans have a small switch located on the side of the base that allows you to change the direction of the blades. With the fan off, use a sturdy ladder to reach the switch near the motor. In some cases, you can also change the direction with a remote or wall panel; check your fan's manual for instructions if you can't locate the switch. Once you flipped the switch, turn on your fan, stand directly underneath, and look up to ensure it's turning in the right direction. Plan to change your ceiling fan's direction seasonally so it turns counterclockwise in the summer and clockwise in the winter.

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