Can Ceiling Fans Improve Home Heating Efficiency?
The sight of a slowly-rotating ceiling fan keeping rooms comfortable on a hot summer day has been a fixture in American homes since the 1920s. However, modern ceiling fans have a year-round role in home comfort. Today’s high-efficiency fan motors do the job at a much lower cost than those classic models from the past. An energy-efficient, mid-sized ceiling fan running on the “high” setting only consumes a little over one cent of electricity per hour. We know ceiling fans have a long tradition of making rooms cooler in summer, but what about winter operation?
The problem with keeping rooms comfortable in winter is the simple fact that heat rises. Hot air from a forced-air furnace enters a room through the supply vent and almost immediately heads for the ceiling. All that rising heat energy stratifies in layers—often conducting through the ceiling and into the attic—and doesn’t contribute much to comfort down near the floor, where people and pets live. To stay comfortable, occupants of the room crank up the thermostat, causing the furnace to run longer and consume more energy, increasing monthly heating costs.
Forward in Summer, Reverse in Winter
With the fan directional switch set to summer or “forward” mode, ceiling fans rotate counter-clockwise, pushing air down and creating a mini wind-chill effect that makes rooms feel up to eight degrees cooler. But ceiling fans also include a “reverse” mode for winter. In this setting, the fan blades rotate clockwise, drawing air upwards toward the ceiling and pushing accumulated heat out toward the walls, then back down into the room. Indoor comfort is enhanced without turning up the furnace and increasing costs. Disrupting the stratification of warm air at the ceiling also reduces the amount of heat energy lost by conduction into the attic.
At Sobieski Services, Inc., our goal is to help our customers in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey learn more about energy and home comfort issues – especially HVAC and plumbing issues – so that they can save money and live in healthier, more comfortable homes.
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