Switch Your Ceiling Fan Direction Each Season for Increased Comfort

White ceiling fan hanging from a support beam in a vaulted living roomVBD / Shutterstock Photos

Come the change of seasons, you should take a moment to check that your ceiling fans are turning in the right direction to keep you very cool in summer and broiled in winter. Here’s how.

Why reverse the direction of your ceiling fan?

Not all ceiling fans are reversible, but many are, and the benefits of a reversible fan are quite significant. In summer you can adjust them to push the air down and cool you down, and in winter you can change them to pull the air up and push it into the room for better heat distribution without having the impression of blowing yourself up by a draft. The key to adjustment is the direction in which the blades rotate.

In summer, you want the fan to turn counterclockwise. When they rotate counterclockwise, the blades push the air towards you, which, thanks to the power of evaporative cooling, makes you feel much cooler when you sit underneath (and helps, overall , to distribute the cooled air more efficiently throughout the room.).

In winter, you want the fans to turn clockwise. Unlike the bottom cooling that you get from the DST setting counterclockwise, the clockwise movement creates an updraft and pushes the air toward the ceiling. The result is that you don’t feel like the fan is blowing on you, but it is pushing the trapped hot air near the ceiling towards the walls and down into the room – so the hot air is where you are want it around you instead of hanging near the ceiling.

How to change the direction of your ceiling fan

There are usually three ways to change the direction of the fan, depending on the model you have. If you’re not sure which method works with your fan, consider the ones that don’t require you to jump a ladder first.

Start by examining the wall fan switch and the remote controls that come with the fan. In our living room, seen below as an example, there is a clearly labeled “Reverse” button on the wall switch.

Jason Fitzpatrick

However, not all switches immediately contain clear instructions, so note the brand and search for it online. Some older Casablanca fan switches did not have a dedicated reverse button, for example, and required you to hold the power button and the fan speed button simultaneously to reverse the direction. Also, many newer models have simple symbols instead of text, and it may not be immediately intuitive what combination of buttons are used to adjust the direction. If in doubt, consult the online documentation.

For reversible fans that do not have a wall switch or remote control, you must manually activate it on the fan body. Here is an example of such a switch.

A physical direction switch on a ceiling fan bodyJason Fitzpatrick

The rocker switch on the fan body is usually wired so that the vertical switches are raised for winter / clockwise movement and lowered for summer / counterclockwise movement. You can remember this easily by thinking that the direction of the switch indicates the direction in which the air will circulate (you want it to blow down in summer and blow in winter).

The horizontal switches are generally on the right for the winter / clockwise movement and on the left for the summer / anti-clockwise movement. Alas, we do not have a smart memory tool for this one, but as long as you remember that winter goes clockwise and summer counterclockwise at least the direction of the switch matches at the direction, the blades will rotate.

That’s all we can say about it. Whenever you perform other seasonal tasks, such as setting your HVAC registers for more efficient heating and cooling– also take a few minutes to change the directions of your fans.

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