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This Ceiling Fan Trick Can Save You Big Money on Heating Costs This Winter

One simple change to your fan can slash those high utility bills.

White ceiling fan spinning
Keep your rooms warmer this winter with a simple ceiling fan adjustment. 
isitsharp/Getty Images

This story is part of Home Tips, CNET's collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.

With utility costs rapidly increasing this winter, you may be looking for ways to cut down on heating costs. Look no further than your ceiling fan. While you might think of it as a summer-only appliance, there's a money-saving trick that can make it useful year round -- and make a dent in your monthly bills.

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Here's the secret: Almost every ceiling fan is designed to rotate clockwise and counterclockwise. Most everyone is familiar with the benefits of a fan's counterclockwise motion: It creates a downward airflow to cool you, which is ideal for anytime you're hot. The downward draft from a ceiling fan can even make you feel up to 8 degrees Fahrenheit cooler, which means you can rely less on air conditioning in the peak summer season. 

But what you may not know is that by simply changing the direction of your fan to rotate clockwise, you can make your ceiling fan into an essential item in the colder months too. It may seem counterintuitive to turn on the fan to get warmer, but the clockwise direction draws cool air up and forces warm air down, which is great for winter or whenever you're cold. 

Sure, you could always rely on a smart thermostat to save money by changing its location and setting your thermostat to the ideal temperature, but this simple tip could increase your savings this winter. And here's some good news: It's super easy to switch the rotation of your ceiling fan. This hack is truly one of the quickest ways to save money. Here's what you need to do. 

Here's how to reverse the rotation of your ceiling fan

There should be a switch on your ceiling fan's motor housing below the blades. Make sure your fan is turned off and flip the switch to reverse the direction of your fan. This quick and easy adjustment makes your fan usable no matter the season.

If your fan has a remote, it might have a button to reverse the direction of the fan blades.

Winter: Clockwise

In the winter, you don't want cold air blowing on you. Because of this, most people instinctively turn their fans off. Reversing the direction is an even better option. 

When you want a warming effect, your fan should be rotating in a clockwise direction. Instead of pushing cool air down, the clockwise rotation pulls it up, forcing the warm air near the ceiling (remember, heat rises) back down. Stand underneath your fan while it's turned on to check the direction. If it's rotating the wrong way, turn the fan off, wait for it to stop spinning and flip the switch.

Summer: Counterclockwise

In the hottest months of the year you want your fan to cool you. For that to happen, you need your fan to push air down. This downward airflow causes a cooling, wind-chill effect that's perfect for summer. 

To confirm your fan's current setting, stand underneath it while it's running and check which way the blades are rotating. If they're rotating clockwise, turn the fan off, wait for it to stop spinning and flip the switch. If your fan is rotating in a counterclockwise direction already, you're all set.

One last thing to keep in mind about your ceiling fan

This trick doesn't have to be used only in the summer or winter -- and you don't have to have it rotate counterclockwise all summer and clockwise all winter. 

If you ever want to make a room feel warmer or cooler, simply reverse the direction of the fan to feel a little more comfortable without having to rely on your heat or AC quite so much. 

For more, check out how much you can really save on electricity by unplugging appliances, how to slash water bills by taking shorter showers, what you can save by turning off the lights and how to save on your gas, electric and water bills

More money-saving tips for your home