Despite their long history, ceiling fans are still a commonplace item in many American homes, allowing people to beat the heat without the expense of air conditioning.
But how exactly do ceiling fans work, and do they actually cool down a room?
Do Fans Keep Rooms Cool?
Despite their reputation, ceiling fans do not actually keep a room cool – or at least not in the truest sense of the word.
What they actually do is create a windchill effect that makes the occupants of the house feel cooler, when in actual fact the temperature of the room remains the same.
How Does This Work?
This process works in the same way that the weather does, wherein the speed and veracity of the wind can make a mild or warm day feel cooler as a result.
This involves the increased motion of the air, creating greater movement, which helps to lower the temperature of our bodies enough that we feel noticeably cooler.
This is because the rapid air generated by the fan permeates the aura of warm air around our bodies, increasing the amount of heat loss, and lowering our core temperature by a few degrees.
Does This Process Have A Name?
There are two main processes that can occur, depending on the start temperature, and our initial bodily conditions.
One such process is called convection, wherein hotter particles rise, and cooler particles descend. The second is through a process called evaporate cooling – a technical term for sweating, the normal human process by which we all cool down our core temperatures.
How Cooler Do They Make Us?
Most ceiling fans have the ability to lower our body temperatures by roughly 4 degrees, which might not sound like a lot, but is a noticeable difference depending on the start temperature and the heat of the environment we are in.
So Why Do We Feel Cooler?
Ultimately, we feel cooler as a result of the rapid heat reduction caused by the processes described above. As soon as the cooler air touches your skin, the layer of heat will begin to dissipate, causing your body temperature to decrease.
This only happens when you are in the path of the fan – at least to the rapid extent we have discussed – which explains why we only feel refreshed and cooled down when we are in the path of the fan’s spinning blades.
What Are The Best Ways To Use Ceiling Fans?
The process of running a ceiling fan might seem like a no-brainer – you literally just flip a switch and the thing begins spinning.
However, there are ways and means to use ceiling fans to get the highest level of efficiency and performance all year round.
During The Summer
When using a ceiling fan during the hot summer months, it is recommended to have it spin counterclockwise, as this will cause the cool air to be directed towards the floor, cooling the room below.
This helps to create the windchill effect that is responsible for cooling us down and making our homes somewhat ambient during particularly hot weather.
During The Winter
Something that might come as a surprise is just how much of an asset a ceiling fan can be during the winter months too.
You might find yourself wondering why you would want the fan on during the colder weather, but having it set to clockwise, and at a lower speed will ensure that the cold air is pulled up from ground level and dispersed to the ceiling.
Turning It Off
It is also best not to use the ceiling fan when there are no people in the room. After all, despite what we have said, the fact of the matter is that they don’t actually cool down houses, and that the only effects that can be felt are on our skin.
This can save money, and avoid wasting electricity and energy.
Using It Outside
It is not uncommon for people to have external ceiling fans, either under an overhanging porch or canopy. These can be great ways to beat the heat during the summer, and work in very much the same way as their indoor counterparts.
When installing these fans, it is important to ensure you have fans suited to wet and moisture conditions, as this can help it work more effectively, and ensure the fan doesn’t become damaged or rusted from being outdoors.
How To Save Money With Ceiling Fans
It has also been recorded that the proper use of ceiling fans can help to save us money – both during the summer and the winter, and for different reasons.
During the summer months, experts suggest that using a ceiling fan alongside air conditioning – at a low level – can help save up to 40% on our energy bills, as the fan does a lot of heavy lifting to reinforce the air conditioner’s effectiveness.
Alternatively, during the winter, the above described process of dispersing cold air upwards can help us save 15% on our heating bills, making the room feel warmer, and reducing the need for us to turn on the heat quite as high as usual.
Other Uses Of Ceiling Fans
As well as cooling us down and dispersing cold air, ceiling fans can also be used for ventilating our homes. This can be a great asset if you are cooking spicy or overpowering foods, dispersing the smells.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about ceiling fans, and whether or not they actually keep a room cool.
Ceiling fans have a long history around the world, and despite being less effective as air conditioning, remain a popular addition to homes thanks to their attractiveness and the windchill effect they create.
However, if you are looking to really beat the heat, then you might want to opt for an air conditioner!