To keep your energy bills lower as the temperatures rise, you might consider installing ceiling fans in the rooms around your home. Hung out of your way and offering extra style to your bare ceilings, fans are practical and attractive additions to your interior spaces.
Yet, believe it or not, many people are not using their ceiling fans to maximum benefit. First you must understand how ceiling fans are supposed to moderate the temperature of your rooms before you can ensure that your ceiling fans are functioning as intended.
Why Ceiling Fans Keep You Cool
Ceiling fans contain motors, which convert electrical energy from your home’s electrical system into mechanical energy in the form of circling blades. It does this by creating an electromagnetic field that exerts force in a circle, compelling a spinning motion from coils of wire within the motor, which are attached to the fan blades.
Air naturally stratifies — hot air rises while cool air sinks — and the motion of the blades helps to accelerate the movement of hot air upwards, away from living areas. Then, as the hot air is rising, the blades break it up with their slicing movement and push the air out and down into the room. This process happens continuously, providing the space with constant air circulation.
However, the circulation itself is not what keeps you cool as moving air does not remove its heat. Rather, fans rely on our natural processes for keeping cool: convection and evaporation. By moving the hot air around our bodies, fans improve the body’s ability to shift heat from the skin into the air, a process called convective heat transfer. Additionally, moving air efficiently wicks sweat away through evaporation, which is perhaps the body’s most effective natural cooling process.
Common Ceiling Fans Mistakes to Fix in Your Home
Installing a ceiling fan is not particularly difficult, especially if you are replacing an old fan or light fixture and you have some experience with electrical work. However, how you install your ceiling fan could impact its performance — meaning you might make mistakes that will prevent your fan from keeping your space as cool as you expect. Here are some of the most common fan errors that negatively impact how fans function:
Your fan is spinning the wrong way. Most ceiling fans come with two settings, which allow the blades to rotate clockwise (pushing air into the room) and counter-clockwise (pulling air away from the room). These settings are supposed to help maintain an ideal temperature in different seasons. When your room feels hot in the summertime, your fan should be spinning counter-clockwise. If it isn’t, you can change the direction of the blade movement by flipping a switch located on the fan’s motor casing.
Your fan is not positioned well in your room. If a fan is not hung in an optimal position, it might not be able to circulate air in all corners of the room. The fan should be as close to the center of your space as possible, and it should not be surrounded by features like beams or ceiling overhangs that might interrupt air flow. At the very least, a fan should be 18 inches from the nearest wall to allow for efficient airflow, and it should be between seven and eight feet from the floor — which might mean that you need to use a down-rod to create enough space between the fan and the ceiling.
Your fan is not the correct size. With fans, size matters. Fans that are too small for a space are not capable of pulling or pushing enough air to create effective circulation. What’s more, perpetually running your too-small fan on higher settings to improve airflow will only cause your fan’s motor to wear out sooner than it needs to. It might be necessary to add more than one small fan or upgrade to a single larger fan in the largest rooms of your home. You should measure the height, length and width of your room to find the cubic feet of your space, and then you can compare that number to the optimal room sizes of different fan models.
Ceiling fans are incredibly efficient at keeping your interior spaces cool and comfortable all summer long — as long as they are properly installed and working as intended. The sooner you install a ceiling fan in your room, the sooner you can benefit from its easy cooling effects.
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