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Ask the Energy Expert
Energy Expert

About "Ask the Energy Expert"

Craig Muccio runs FPL's Conservation Research & Development Program and crunches the numbers to figure out how you can save by managing your energy use.

Your questions on energy-related topics can be submitted anytime to our Ask the Energy Expert blog. Just click here to submit your question, and if chosen, it will be answered here

What is the most efficient way to use ceiling fans in the winter?

We have seven ceiling fans in our house. What is the most efficient way to use them in the winter in Florida?

Ceiling fans can save you energy during the winter when running your central heating system. Normally, the breeze from fans make you feel cooler by increasing the evaporation of moisture from your skin. But, you can also use your ceiling fan to help you feel warmer by redistributing the warm air that rises towards your ceiling. Many ceiling fans, including all fans manufactured in the U.S. after 2007, have a switch to make the fan turn in the opposite direction blowing the air upwards. By running your ceiling fans in reverse on low speed, the warmer air near the ceiling will be pushed toward the walls and down to the floor. The air from the floor will be drawn back to the fan in the center of the room again. This helps distribute the warm air throughout the room making you comfortable at a cooler thermostat setting. Since the electric heat strip in a typical Florida central heating and cooling system costs about $1 for each hour the heater runs, the savings can add up. You may be able to save a few bucks this winter. Give it a try.

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Comments [60]

EcoGuy // January 21, 2013

You need to be careful that you are not just helping the air cool faster against surfaces like windows. You would get benefit ensuring the windows have full curtains and pelmits to break the air exchange cycle against any windows.

T Carlson // February 14, 2013

Are you sure? When I worked in the home center industry, the popular wisdom was that in the summer the fan should push the air up, to circulate the cool air up from the floor and to force the warmer air off the ceiling. In the winter, the fan should push the warm air off the ceiling.

William ECustard // February 15, 2013

Question about fans in the winter months. When you say reverse,are you sasying counter clock wise or clock wise?

A.J. Oakley // February 8, 2013

I was told ceiling fans cost approx. $7.00 a month..Is this true?…AJO

Jack Davis // February 8, 2013

Good post on the ceiling fans. America seems to have forgotten all the lessons we learned in the ’70s after the Arab oil embargos and this one deserved to be dusted off and put out there for the younger folks.

Guy Magliocco // February 8, 2013

After reading your answer above is it then correct to have the fan work in the direction to pull up the air from the floor to aid in cooling with the air conditioner? Thank you

Lorraine // February 8, 2013

You say have the fan turning the opposite direction for the winter. My question is…which way is the opposite? Clock wise for winter and counter clockwise for summer? I have always wondered about this.
Thank you,

Shelby McMahan // February 8, 2013

You should really indicate whether clockwise or counterclockwise when talking about ceiling fans and their role in heating and cooling.

Richard // February 8, 2013

I have known this fact, on reversing fans to re-distribute heat at the ceiling, since 1981!
I installed seven reversible fans in my home and three in my Mother’s home, in that year! It’s great that FPL lets their customers know of this savings idea! Obviously many fan owners have been born since that time! Yes, it really does work and save money, too!!

Diane Wright // February 8, 2013

I would like tips on how to rotate what fans you have on in which rooms to get the best cooling.
I understand that you should turn the fan off when you leave a room. Is this correct? Does this
mean then that you normally would not have all of your fans running at the same time.
We are away in the summer but leave our A/C at
78-80. Usually rotate two fans in our larger
rooms to help cool. What should we be dooing?

Cathy Glassman // February 8, 2013

Is it more efficient to leave a ceiling fan on low in a bedroom to keep the temperature lower all day, or to turn it off when you leave? It seems if I turn it off, the air conditioner has to run longer to cool the room at night.

Kenneth Bednar // February 8, 2013

Ceiling fans do exactly the same movement of air whether in winter or summer mode. The only difference is that in summer mode (counter clock wise)you feel the movement of air.

judith // February 8, 2013

so which way IS REVERSE?????
is it clockwise looking UP. this has always confused me.

Mark Minnick // February 8, 2013

when running your air condition should the ceiling fan turn clock wise or counter clock wise?

Dick Vanstone // February 8, 2013

I haven’t turned on my heat this year, other than once to make sure it was functional. SW Florida FTW!

claude vezina // February 8, 2013

I have a condo here in Florida and I live here only from November to April. I have seiling fans in each apartment. Do you think that it is a good decision to let the fans runs when I’m not here from May to November. Samething for A/C and humidistat.

Emily // February 22, 2013

Gosh, people, clockwise—counter-clockwise—can’t you tell which is reverse? Normally the fan will blow the air down, and you feel the movement of the air….and can see papers moving on your desk, or such. When reversed, the fan blows upwards, and you feel little movement directly under the fan.
For this reason you let the air blow down when you want to be cooled, and then reverse would be just the opposite.

Janet Ouellette // April 21, 2013

I’m new to Florida, how do you use ceiling fans in the summer? My blood is still thick from living in Minneapolis.

Bob Klein // February 22, 2013

When looking up at the fan, it should turn clockwise in the winter months (heating) and counter-clockwise in the summer months (cooling).

Michael lockwood // February 23, 2013

So, clockwise in summer, counterclockwise in winter is most efficient?

dewey // February 23, 2013

fans normally run counter-clockwise. Reverse then would be clockwise.

dewey // February 23, 2013

Carl V., Port St. Lucie, FL asked you how to run fans in the winter, not summer. Your answer was how to run a furnace, he’s not asking abt furnaces since we don’t need them in South Florida.
It’s warm here in the winter and treacherous in the summer.

Susan Thomason // February 23, 2013

I have a newly built home with a small unscreened covered porch. It has a huge double open sided glass door. Would my electric bill be cheeper if i have french doors installed?

Thank you,
Susan Thomason

Linda Stagnitta // February 8, 2013

Is it less expensive to run your ceiling fans with the windows open during the cooler weekends then running the AC?

louis beltrone // February 8, 2013

using ceiling fans during summer months: is this an energy saver setting fans on low always making it feel cooler and setting ac at higher setting? also leaving ac air handler on always does this save energy

RitaR // February 8, 2013

a Question: which direction is for summer (warm weather).
If I reverse, which way should the blades turn?

gus // February 8, 2013

Should I invest in a solar water heater.

Donald Schalekamp // February 8, 2013

By suggesting that ceiling fans be run in reverse in Florida during the winter do you mean counter- clockwise?

Dorothy Smith // February 8, 2013

I am confuse as to what is reverse. Clockwise or counter clock? I could never notice the flow. Thank you..

Blas De la Cruz // February 8, 2013

During the blow downward or upward I don’t see the difference in the energy consumption and as consequence in savings. In any case the ceiling fans need the same amount of energy along any season.

martin Kalish // February 8, 2013

What is the ideal ac temperature when I am away from my home in the summer

Writer // February 8, 2013

Question…………I have a wall switch to turn my hot water heater on and off……..I only use hot water to shower/bath with during the winter
months……..is it more economical to turn it on when I need hot water and then turn it off, versus leaving it on all the time……during the winter, never have it on in the summer….thanks.

S. M. Writer

Joe Marshall // February 8, 2013

Re: Your e-mail about the savings gained by using natural gas. FYI We have no natural gas supplied to the Savannah’s on north Merritt Island! Is there any plans to make it available in the future?

Danielle Pickard
Danielle Pickard // February 20, 2013

Hey Joe, thank you for reading our email. FPL’s use of natural gas has benefitted customers by helping us to have the lowest typical residential customer bills in the state and well below the national average. However, we are not a retail gas company. We recommend contacting your city’s utilities department or a retail gas utility that serves communities near yours, such as Florida City Gas.

tom randolph // February 24, 2013

what is the most efficient way to run our six ceiling fans in the summer with the air on? Waiting for this important message. Thank You Connie randolph

Julie // February 8, 2013

I am glad to see that FPL is using videos. They are much easier to follow than a written blog. Plus I like to see there is a real energy expert who is more of a scientist than a marketing person. Good job.

John St Denis // February 9, 2013

It would be more informative to specify ‘reverse’ as clockwise or counterclockwise rotation. I do not know the rotation direction which the author describes as ‘reverse’.

gerhard pietsch // February 9, 2013

What is “backwards”? Clockwise or counterclockwise?

Larry Park // February 9, 2013

Do ceiling fans help, in any way, to leave on in a vacant house or condo in SW Florida during the summer months when owners are “up-north” – or, are ceiling fans entirely for “creature comfort”?

Diane // February 9, 2013

My husband and I disagree on which is the correct way to use the fan to cool the room. If you look up at the fan, should the blades be moving in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction? Every married couple we have asked have also disagreed with each other. Please settle this.

Pam // February 9, 2013

I just purchased two air purifiers and wondering how they will effect my electric bill.

Iris // February 9, 2013

Okay, so if I am looking up at the fan during the winter which way should it turn?

Terry Jones // February 25, 2013

How much does a ceiling fan cost to run all day everyday?

Earl Tessimond // February 9, 2013

Hello, Great tip on ceiling fan use, but does anyone actually use their heating system in Florida? We may warm up the house on occasion, but certainly we would not reverse our 7 fans for that brief period. Too much trouble to save a dollars’ worth of electricity don’t you think?

Thanks, Earl T.

Paul Gozzo // February 9, 2013

Good information here. Fans can be used a lot more than people probably realize including ground fans used in combination to help to bring in outside air and redistribute it throughout a dwelling that does not otherwise have good cross ventilation.

Gary // February 9, 2013

The ‘off’ position isn’t a bad option for South Florida during Winter.

gerhard pietsch // February 9, 2013

its feb and 84 degrees

Beth Black // February 9, 2013

“turn your ceiling fan in the opposite direction”….does that mean clockwise or counter clockwise in the Florida winter?

Christopher // February 10, 2013

It would be useful if you could tell us which way, clockwise or reverse, the fans should be turning when you look them from under for instance to achieve either results. Thanks.

L X V // February 10, 2013

Many thanks for your above info about ceiling fans.

I wonder if it makes a difference how many blades the fans have?
I have seen them with 3, 4, 5 blades and also of different shapes?

Also, is it smart to install a fan in small kitchens in condominiums? We do not even have exhaust system….

Thanks in advance.


Lynda Harris // February 10, 2013

Instead of saying “run your fan in reverse”, it would be more helpful if you would specify either clockwise or counter-clockwise.

beatrice bootle // February 11, 2013

i will try the reverse, my problem is that everytime I turn on the heat, it stays on for about fithteen min. and the breaker trips, what can I do about that?

judy griffin // February 12, 2013

Every month there is a new and reliable tip from you at FPL-other electric suppliers should take a tip from you folks!!!thanks

priscilla hamilton // February 12, 2013

so to be clear…in the summer fans should run clockwise and in the winter fans should run counterclockwise?

Susan // February 15, 2013

Please remind me…..ceiling fans to run clockwise or counter-clockwise normally (when a/c is on)??

Energy Expert
Energy Expert // February 18, 2013

Some people wrote in to ask should the fan be turning clockwise or counter clockwise in summer and winter? Ceiling fans typically rotate counterclockwise when you look up at the fan while the fan is blowing the air downward. That is the normal operating mode in summer or anytime you want to feel cooler without lowering the A/C thermostat. If you have a fan with a reversing switch to blow the air upwards on low speed while space heating in winter for better heat distribution, then the typical fan blowing air up will be rotating clockwise when viewed from underneath.

Lucky42 // February 20, 2013

Summer mode pushes hot air from the ceiling directly down to the floor where the cool air is, in order to completely cool the room. You know it is in summer mode when you feel the breeze blowing on you. In winter mode, the fan pulls cold air up from the floor to the ceiling, and the warm air down with no direct breeze. If you feel a direct breeze, it’s in summer mode.

Don // March 5, 2013

High, vaulted ceiling in our great room, so I believe in and subscribe to the theory. But my wife always complains and says it is just blowing cold air on her (especially when it is really cold out) and wants to put the fan off, leaving ałl the hot air to rise. When I go upstairs, there is not only a “feel” of a 5 – 6 degree temperature difference, but it can be seen on the digital readout of the thermostat! Question: what does one do about cold, complaining wives who always want to put the fan off and don’t believe the the theory??

GLORICE PHOEBUS // March 8, 2013

Is it more costly to leave the computer on all
day or turn it off until you may need it later??

Drive Change // October 23, 2013

So investing in a solar water heater or ceiling fan. Which one is a best option for now? What is the cost of ceiling fan if it runs for 12 to 14 hrs a day?


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