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Craig Muccio

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.

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The best ceiling fan settings for summertime

By Craig Muccio

Asked on: July 22, 2015 by Linda S., Delray Beach

Should the ceiling fan turn clockwise or counterclockwise in the summer?

The direction a ceiling fan should turn can be confusing. Modern fans have a switch that enables them to blow the air either up or down. For summer, the fan should spin counterclockwise to blow the air downward so you can feel the breeze. Remember, fans consume energy, so the only way a fan will actually help lower your bill is to set your thermostat a degree or two higher when using ceiling fans. The breeze from the fan makes you feel cooler at a higher temperature. Just be sure to turn fans off after you leave the room since they do not actually lower the room temperature. 

Don’t choose a higher speed than necessary to feel comfortable. The higher the fan speed, the more energy it uses. A typical modern ceiling fan uses about 30 Watts on low speed, 55 Watts on medium speed and 95 Watts on high speed.

Does your home still have any of those heavy duty ceiling fans from decades ago? You know the ones; they seem to last forever. Did you know they can use up to 500 Watts on high speed? If you use that fan several hours a day, you should seriously consider replacing it with a modern fan to cut your energy costs up to 80 percent. If you were thinking of replacing the fan yourself, do so safely by recruiting someone to help. You don’t want to fall off the ladder when you unhook a heavy fan from the ceiling and suddenly discover it is much, much heavier than you anticipated! 

Ceiling fan safety tips

If you are installing a new fan, replacing an old one, or just changing a broken switch, here are some safety tips to be aware of: 

  • Electrical code specifies fans must be attached to an electrical box in the ceiling made especially for that purpose. The box must be securely anchored to a wooden beam.  
  • If you are taking down an existing fan, older heavy duty fans are extremely heavy. The weight of the fan can cause you to fall off the ladder or spill the oil inside the fan on the floor. Getting experienced help to remove such fans is strongly recommended.
  • Did the switch with a pull chain break on your fan? Look for the Wattage written on the fan or call the manufacturer before buying a new switch. Older fans can use 500 Watts or more, and that will burn up most replacement switches you will find today in the home improvement stores. The camera in your phone can be a handy way to read the nameplate on the fan with the Wattage, manufacturer, and model number. 

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