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Smart Home

The amazing ceiling fan trick you're not using

Depending on the time of year, your ceiling fan should rotate in a different direction. Here's why.

Taylor Martin/CNET

Your ceiling fan is something you generally regard as something that is either on — and set to one of the three or so speeds — or off. It moves the air around your house to keep it from feeling too stagnant or to help cool you off without running your air conditioning too much in the summer.

What you may not have known, however, is that you can control the direction in which the fan rotates, which completely changes how the fan works. Here's how and why you should change your ceiling fan direction.

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Which direction should your fan run?

Just below the blades on your ceiling fan's motor housing, you should see a switch. If you turn the fan off and flip this switch, the fan will reverse direction. This is so you can alter how the fan works at different times of the year.

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

Summer

In the summer, the fan is meant to cool, so you'll want it to push air down. This forces the airflow to hit you directly, causing a cooling, wind chill effect. For this to happen, the fan should be rotating in a counter-clockwise direction.

To check this, stand underneath the fan and check which way the fan blades are rotating. If they are rotating clockwise, turn the fan off, wait for it to stop spinning and flip the switch.

Winter

In the winter, you likely don't want cold air blowing on you. A downward draft from a ceiling fan can make you feel up to 8 degrees cooler. 

When you want a warming effect, you should switch the direction of the fan to clockwise. Instead of pushing cool air down, it pulls it up, which forces the warm air near the ceiling (remember, heat rises) back down.

For this, the fan should be rotating clockwise. Stand underneath to check the direction. If it's rotating the wrong way, turn the fan off and flip the switch.

To be fair, this trick doesn't specifically have to be used in the summer or winter. If you ever want to make a room feel warmer or cooler, reversing the direction of the fan will allow you to make small changes to the apparent temperature without relying so much on your expensive air conditioner or furnace.