Running Ceiling Fans during Winter

Do people run ceiling fans during the winter to reduce their heating bills just like they do in the summer to reduce their air conditioning bills?

During the summer months I run my ceiling fans and the breeze they produce allows me to adjust my air con temp up a few degrees which saves me a little money on electricity. It seems the money spent running the fans is less than the money spent running the air conditioner. I have never tried it during the winter.

Since hot air rises, and I have 10 foot ceilings, much of the room I don’t use has to be heated before my thermostat decides to kick off. If I ran a ceiling fan it would force some hot air to circulate lower in the room, or at least mix the air around, which makes me wonder if it would be a good idea, but I haven’t heard of people routinely doing this. Please fight my ignorance.

I think someone asks this every year. :slight_smile:

I’ve found that running the fans in reverse (pushihng up against ceilings) at low speeds seems to distribute the heat better. It was true even for our forced-air heating in CA, and is way true for our hydronic (hot-water baseboard) heating here. It just evens out the air temp in the room (and house), which can only be a good thing for long term comfort and efficiency.

All of my fans have a reverse switch on them to, in theory, move the hot air down. In my living room and kitchen I have 14 foot ceilings. The change in temperature of the air at the ceiling is quite noticeable.

I run my fans “backwards” during the winter to move that warmer air around a bit more. I can’t say that my heating bill has been affected, but the rooms feel warmer. YMMV

I run mine not for cost savings but because I can’t stand the feeling of still, stuffy air. I’ve never switched direction and I don’t think it makes much of a difference for us, since we keep the house pretty cold anyway.

If you have 75º air at your ceiling … and 55º air around your couch … then just running a little fan with mix the air and give you 65º at both ceiling and couch … lots cheaper than jacking up your heater to get 85º above and 65º below …

The downstairs of my house is heated mostly by the pellet stove in the living room. The rest of the house by the gas furnace. The ceiling fan in the living room runs 24/7 all winter, usually blowing up to keep the seats near the walls warmer but sometimes down if I’m lonely for a “summer” breeze. Kids usually keep their fans blowing up year round to not have a breeze. Between the ceiling fans and box fans to move air into other rooms, I am able to keep the house comfier at a lower setpoint.

I ran the ceiling fan in my old house during the winter to get the air moving around. It didn’t seem to matter which way it turned, it got the air moving and made the big open living/dining room more comfortable. I doubt it saved any heating costs though, the roof was very well insulated.

The traditional answer is to run the fans to blow downwards in summer and upwards in winter.

The thought being that felt air motion from the fan is “Ahh, a cooling breeze :)” in the summer but “a nasty cold draft :(” in the winter. By blowing upwards in winter the same total air motion happens, but it’s more diffuse and less likely to be directly felt as a draft.

As you say, it’s a matter of taste. But when I lived in cold country I certainly changed my fan directions every 6 months. And adjusted the dampers on all my air vents to send more heat to lower floors in winter & more AC to upper floors in summer.

If you think about how air travels around a fan, you’ll realize that the air leaving the fan is in a fast-moving column and the air entering the fan is moving slower and has more of a large, funnel shape.

In the summer, you want the fan to direct air down so that it directs the fast-moving air across your skin to help evaporate your sweat away and cool you off better. In the winter, the fan pushes air upward so that the column of fast-moving air hits the ceiling and the air slowly circulates around the room.

In the winter, we don’t need help getting sweat to evaporate and we don’t want to feel the air blowing on us. By directing the fan up, the air in the room will generally feel calmer than if it was directed down.

Yes, we use the fans in the winter. Maybe it helps with the bills. Mostly, we don’t like still, stuffy air.

I do understand the logic- I was specifically saying that for me, it doesn’t make a difference because I don’t want the house warm to begin with. I like it on the very cool side, so I’m not motivated to direct any warm air that floated to the top to redistribute down.

Yup. Your post was just a good one to hang my general comments off of. I wasn’t intending to contradict your POV. I get that your personal preferences are a bit to the minority end of the spectrum. Vive la difference.

As to your last sentence. …

If your house is at all warmer inside than is Nature outside, it only got that way by you paying for it. Doesn’t matter if your idea of comfortable is 50F or 80F, that’s probably warmer than outside. And warmer costs money.

Presumably paying less would be better than paying more. We’re all stuck with convection moving the warmest air to the ceiling; we can’t make that not happen. By using a fan to offset convection and equalize floor and ceiling temps you’re able to obtain the temp you like, whatever that is, with less useless excess heating of ceiling air you can’t reach or feel and don’t really want.

To be sure, for your use case a fan blowing up or down is about 99% a wash. But fan on should result in less total furnace/heat pump use than fan off.

About the only exception would be if you had a super-insulated house and liked it cool enough that cooking & lighting & electronics & bodies provided all the heat you needed and you never ran a furnace or heat pump at all. Some folks can manage that. But not many. Yet. In 30 years it may be bog-standard for new construction.

If you sit or sleep next to a poorly insulated wall or window, like I do, then the fan in reverse can cause some uncomfortable cold drafts along those surfaces. So in that case I just keep the fan blowing down all year, but I use low speed in winter.

Years ago I was informed by a heating professional that reversing the fan in the winter makes no difference to the air circulation, and only serves to deposit dust and particles on your ceiling, which is almost impossible to clean off on a textured (popcorn) ceiling.

So, yes it works, but don’t reverse the fan; it makes no difference.