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What Direction Should The Ceiling Fan Go In The Summer?

Turns out, it matters. Who knew?!

A mom and her kids change the ceiling fan direction.
July Alcantara/Getty Images

Whether you're inching towards menopause or simply run hot, a ceiling fan can be a godsend, especially on sticky summer nights. As it turns out, the direction your ceiling fan blades rotate can make a massive difference in the room's airflow, which means a few minutes of seasonal maintenance can help keep you cool and breezy as outdoor temps continue to rise.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which runs the Energy Star program, you'll want to ensure your ceiling fan blades rotate in a counterclockwise direction in the summer (and clockwise when the temps are colder).

While ceiling fans don't actually impact a room's temperature, the agency notes that airflow pushed in a counterclockwise direction creates a "wind-chill" effect, which helps you feel cooler. (Who knew?)

In the winter, you'll want those blades spinning clockwise at a low speed, which helps create a gentle updraft that forces warm air from the ceiling down towards the floor. Heat famously rises, so keeping your fan running on low can help encourage the warm air to flow downwards, keeping you toastier.

How to Change Ceiling Fan Direction

If you're unsure how to do this yourself, consulting your specific fan's user manual or guide can help, but the pros at The Home Depot note that most ceiling fans have a switch on the motor. Your fan model may even come with a remote control that will let you change its direction with the touch of a button. Of course, if you have to do it manually, you'll only want to attempt this when the fan is not running to prevent injury.

To check the direction of airflow, they recommend standing beneath the fan and looking up. If it's running counterclockwise, you'll feel the rush of a breeze from up above.

Different Directions for Different Rooms

In rooms with vaulted ceilings, Home Depot’s pros recommend keeping the blades running counterclockwise year-round, as the height of the fan mount reduces any frosty wind chill vibes even when the weather outside is frightful. In dining rooms and home offices, the pros suggest keeping your fan at a low speed to prevent your food from cooling too quickly or your paperwork from blowing everywhere.

Outdoor ceiling fans running counterclockwise at high speed can not only make those warm summer nights feel a bit breezier, but they're also solid for keeping mosquitoes and other flying insects from crashing your party.

Cool & Cost-Efficient

Saving money on your energy bills is high on everyone's priority list no matter the season, and thankfully, utilizing your ceiling fan efficiently can help you save some bucks. (Win!) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends turning them off when no one is in the room since they cool people, not rooms.

The Home Depot notes that in the summer, a high-speed, counterclockwise-spinning ceiling fan allows for a thermostat increase of four degrees without any discomfort. A counterclockwise ceiling fan direction can reduce energy costs by up to 30%. Conversely, in the winter, changing the direction of the blades can keep the room from feeling drafty, lowering your utility bills by as much as 15% or more.

Cleaning Ceiling Fan Blades

As with any home maintenance, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, which means a few minutes spent cleaning your ceiling fan can help keep it running efficiently for far longer. The pros at The Home Depot suggest cleaning the blades at least once a year using a step stool or step ladder on a stable, flat surface with the fan powered off.

You can insert a pillowcase over each blade, one at a time, which will collect any dirt or dust from the sides, top, and bottom of the fan blade. Then simply take the pillowcase outside and shake it out, throw it in the laundry, and you're good to go. You can also use an extendable duster if you've got one handy.

For a deeper clean, wipe each part of the blade with a mild cleanser and cloth — they suggest using a mix of 50/50 white vinegar and water. Don't overlook the ceiling fan's pull chain, motor, and glass globe if it has one. You can clean these using soapy water or the vinegar mix, but make sure you're drying each part thoroughly to prevent any safety concerns.

And there you have it, folks. A well-running ceiling fan can save you serious bucks and keep you from losing your cool — quite literally — when it's hotter than the surface of the sun outside.