Do ceiling fans really help in the winter? Can they warm a room?

So, you’ve been using a ceiling fan to feel comfortable in those hot, humid days, but have you ever considered the benefits of using a fan in the cold?

Ceiling fan in sitting room

Yes, ceiling fans really do help in winter. A ceiling fan helps by distributing war air in any room when run in reverse and can also cut down on heating costs when used in combination with a heater. 

Not many people know that ceiling fans can effectively circulate hot air and provide additional comfort.

This may even sound bizarre to some people, but it is science!

How can ceiling fans warm a room?

Essentially, a ceiling fan has blades that move in the same direction to create a cool breeze during the summer. It helps evaporate warmth and perspiration and gives a cooling effect to the body. 

The same circulation and distribution of air in a room can also help warm up a room when it is cold.

Lab tests have revealed that when a ceiling fan is used in combination with a heater, there is improved hot air circulation. Due to this, you can lower the thermostat of your heater as well. 

The key to using ceiling fans to circulate heat

If you’re trying to understand how to utilize a ceiling fan in the winter, you must understand the proper process that goes behind it.

Ceiling fans run in an anti-clockwise direction when used in normal mode during summer. This generates cool air downwards and helps in lowering the room temperature. Read more in our guide; which way should a ceiling fan turn.

In the cold weather, you want to achieve the opposite, which means you want to push cold air up. To make the blades push air upwards, you need to run the fan in a clock-wise motion. Many new fan models now have a lever or setting with a ‘reverse mode’. Switching to this mode will facilitate heating by moving warm air from the ceiling to floor.

Basically, air will be drawn from the room and be pushed up to the ceiling. Then, the force of the fan will push this air from the top, towards the room’s walls. Finally, the air will move towards the ground.

This mechanism ensures that warm air from top of the room (since warm air rises) and is circulated to the bottom and all around.

With a heating system in place (such as a space heater, electric fireplace or wall heater), the room starts to feel warmer and cozier if the ceiling fan is turned on at a slow and gentle speed. Without using a fan, the hot air will stay upwards. So, this reversal method can really add a dose of warmth and comfort to your living space. 

Ceiling fan blade length also has an effect on how efficient the air circulation can be, but it’s not always a good idea to change the length – find out whether you can change the size of ceiling fan blades here.

Can ceiling fans help save money in the winter?

You may be thinking that running both a heater and a fan will create a dent in your wallet, so why bother? Well, interestingly, using a ceiling fan can help you achieve the opposite. 

This is because using the ceiling fan on reverse mode actually means less reliance on the heater. As running a fan is much cheaper, you can simply turn down the thermostat of your heater and cut down on its use. With improved heat distribution from the fan, you won’t compromise on comfort and will also save some money. 

In fact, experts have estimated that this method can even help you save up to 15% on heater costs when you turn down the thermostat a few degrees. Your heater will then consume less energy, and the fan will maintain a constant warm temperature in the room. 

Another study was conducted by experts who found that the total power used by a heater and fan together is ultimately less than half of solely using a heater – amazing right?

You can maximize your cost-saving by choosing the right ceiling fan. Try to look for more energy-efficient models with improved blades and motors. We recommend ENERGY-STAR rated ceiling fans for minimal energy consumption, compared to conventional fans. 

House in the winter snow

Additional benefits of using a ceiling fan

Regardless of what time of the year you use a ceiling fan, this cool appliance can help improve air-circulation as well as air quality. There is more ventilation in the room which makes the atmosphere more fresh and removes staleness.

Many fans nowadays also have built-in lighting in them. So, they can also help illuminate a room as a multi-purpose appliance. 

Did you know that Radon levels are highest during the winter? Find out if a ceiling fan can help reduce radon.

Finding reverse mode on a fan

The latest ceiling fans come with a clearly shown reverse mode. However, some older models do not have a visible switch, or a reverse mode at all. You can try and look for a setting on the remote, or a switch on the fan’s motor or base. Sometimes, the switch can even be found under the cover of the ceiling fan. 

An alternative is to use the ceiling fan in the normal mode. While it will circulate warm air too, it is not guaranteed to give the same, comfy results as you would get from a fan in reverse mode. This is because air will blast downwards directly. 

Can you use a pedestal fan as an alternative?

A pedestal fan simply does not work in the same way as a ceiling fan does. It can’t bring air downwards or make it circulate all over the room. It will end up making the room uncomfortable and simply less pleasant in the winter months.

Final recommendation

It is important to remember that your ceiling fan is not an exact alternative to your heating system, rather it is complementary to it.

There is no benefit of leaving the ceiling fan on in the room, whether in the winter or the summer. This is because a fan does not work the same way a heater or air-conditioner does, it doesn’t create heat, it simply distributes it.

So, the best way to enjoy the perks of a ceiling fan is to be in the room when it is on. A word of advice is to save electricity by using a fan wisely, according to the weather.