Keep Your Summer Energy Bills Low With This Ceiling Fan Hack

If you want a cooler home without overspending on AC, try doing this with your ceiling fan.

3 min read
a hand points a remote control at a white ceiling fan hanging below a wood ceiling

Switching the direction of your ceiling fan might be as easy as pushing a button.

Giuliano Benzin/Getty Images

How are you planning to keep your home cool during this scorcher of a summer? You can always use an air conditioner, but that can quickly become expensive. If you use your ceiling fan instead, you could end up saving big on your utility bills. 

CNET Home Tips logo

According to the US Department of Energy, ceiling fans, when used properly, can make you feel up to 4 degrees F cooler. That means you can raise your thermostat and cut costs without sacrificing your own comfort -- all by making a simple adjustment to the fans in your home. 

Coupled with the right fan size and placement, setting your ceiling fans to rotate properly can net you big savings on your energy bill each month. You'll also be doing your part when it comes to protecting our environment. Most importantly, however, you'll be staying cool -- or warm, depending on the season. 

For more on saving money on energy, learn how unplugging some appliances can save you $100 a year and the most efficient temperature for your thermostat this summer.

How to change the direction of your ceiling fan

Changing the direction your ceiling fan rotates is simple. It's usually controlled by a sliding switch you can find on the motor housing of the fan. This switch lets you change the fan from spinning clockwise to counterclockwise and vice versa. 

Before you make any changes, turn off your ceiling fan -- you don't want to hurt yourself or anyone else in your home. Look for the small sliding switch on the side of the fan's motor housing. It should be labeled with markings like "Forward/Reverse" or have arrows pointing in opposite directions. 

To switch rotation to counterclockwise, slide the switch to the Forward or the counterclockwise setting. For clockwise rotation, slide the same directional switch to the Reverse or clockwise setting. The fan blades will start to push air upward to recirculate warmer air. 

If there's no switch on your ceiling fan, you may have a remote control that can change the direction with the push of a button. And if you've got a smart fan, you can probably change direction with your voice or by using an app. You may need to check your instruction manual for further help here. 

Set your ceiling fan to counterclockwise in the summer

During the summer, you'll want your ceiling fan to rotate in a counterclockwise direction, which will blow cooler air straight down into the room. Just make sure the fins on your fan blades are tilted downward to help push the air towards the floor. You should feel the air in the room start to get cooler. 

Switch your ceiling fan back to clockwise in the winter

In the winter months, you'll want your ceiling fan to rotate in a clockwise direction. The airflow will then be directed upward, which circulates hot air from the ceiling back down into the room to help spread warmth. 

Other tips for making the most of your ceiling fans

If you're looking to reap even more benefits from your ceiling fans, be sure you choose the right kind of fan. According to the Department of Energy, you should look for fans with the Energy Star label, as they're around 60% more efficient than conventional fans. 

You'll also want to make sure the fan you're using is the correct size for your room. Larger rooms may need bigger fans with blade spans of at least 52 inches or more, while smaller rooms can get by using fans with spans of 36 inches.

If changing your fan blades' direction becomes a pain, you might also consider installing a ceiling fan with a remote control or implementing a smart switch. This makes it easier to change the fan direction and speed without having to reach up, use a ladder, or fumble around for the switch to push. The easier it is to change the fan blades' rotation, the easier it is for you to be cooler or warmer in uncomfortable temperatures.