Which way do you run your ceiling fan?

Conventional wisdom seems to indicate “down in the summer” to blow air onto you (even though I can’t really feel the air unless I’m right under the fan) and “up in the winter” to keep the warm air (which has risen to the ceiling) circulating.

I’m not so sure, though. In my two key rooms (living room and bedroom), we have window AC units and ceiling fans. It almost seems like if your fan is blowing down, then you are keeping the cool air at the floor. Of course cool/warm air separation doesn’t really work that nicely.

And in the winter, it seems like having a ceiling fan on low in “forward” would move the warm air trapped at the ceiling back down to a usable level.

What do you think is a more efficient method of getting cool air fully integrated into the actual 6 feet of the room that I use (well, more like 5’5", but some of my guests are 6 feet)?

For the purposes of discussion,

down = forward = the way you can stick your finger into the fan without serious injury

up = reverse = the way your finger will get chopped off if you stick it into the fan

I thought it was the other way around; down in the winter so the warm air is pushed back down at you, up in the summer so the AC air is pulled towards you and then up, cooling the hot air at the top.

The majority of answers in this poll seem to agree.

This lady disagrees with them.

Besides, most of the people in that poll completely ignore the effects of air moving over your body.

That’s what the instruction book for my fan says, but I don’t really get it. I would think that regardless of direction, the fan is going to set up a current that causes air to circulate and cause the same effect.

I’ve always thought it made sense to set the fan so that in the summer, warm air is “pulled” up and away from you, and in the winter, the warm air that has risen is pushed down, back into the room.

But I have also read that the heat generated by the fan itself makes the direction of the blades a moot point.

Absent A/C, I usually have the fan going in the finger-chopping mode, so it will pull the cooler outside air into the room.

With the A/C, I like to have the air blowing directly onto me, but that’s because my wife won’t let me set the A/C to 73F, which is where I like it. I needthat extra cooling effect!

In the winter, I have it going “good-finger”, as I just want to stip upthe dust on the floor.


When we didn’t have central air conditioning, we used the ceiling fans to blow air down over our sweat-soaked bodies, especially in the bedroom. With A/C, we run them the other direction because the cool air comes through floor vents, and we want to circulate the cool air through the room. I have absolutely no science to base this on, but we’ve used the A/C with and without the fans, and we believe we’re more comfortable with the fans running on low, pushing the air up to the ceiling (and, we assume, down the walls.) We don’t run the fans in the winter – my wife believes that any time she feels air moving over her body, it’s cooling her. The exception is her hair dryer.