What Direction Should My Ceiling Fans Turn, When, and Why?

Ceiling fans are a great way to help cool down a room.  Sure, they won’t do the job all by themselves if it’s the middle of July but they can circulate the air, spinning the warm air up and keeping the cooler air down at your level. Since warm air naturally rises anyway, it’s a pretty simple system. But did you know that ceiling fans can also be used in the winter to help keep a room warm? Most ceiling fans have a switch that reverses the direction that the blades spin. If the fan blades spin in one direction, they push warm air upward. If they spin in another direction, they push warm air down. Another great thing about ceiling fans is that they are very conservative of energy. If ceiling fans rotate in the proper direction during the right months, they can save on your monthly electric bill. So what direction should my ceiling fans turn for which month? How do I know that they are turning in the right direction? If you have never used your ceiling fan for anything other than keeping cool, you may find this information useful.

Ceiling Fans In The Winter

Yes, it is true. Your ceiling fan can help to keep your room warmer in the winter. To do this, you need to set your fan to rotate in the proper direction. Try flipping the switch on the fan and turn it on. You want the blades to spin in a counterclockwise rotation. Because of the way fans are built, this will look clockwise as you look up at it. Confusing? Try this. The blades on a ceiling fan are angled. You want the blades to rotate in the direction that the blades are angled downward. This will cause the warm air to be pushed back down from the ceiling and the walls and redirected into the living space below.

When running your ceiling fan in this direction, make sure it runs at low speed. Otherwise, a higher speed may actually cool down the warm air which defeats the whole purpose. If you live in a house with a high ceiling, then you may want to run the fan at a higher speed in order to get the air back down to the living quarters. Just make sure that the fans are not creating so much of a breeze that the room feels cold and drafty instead of warm.

Ceiling Fans In The Summer


In the summer months is when most people use their ceiling fans. For them to work properly, the blades need to turn clockwise (or counterclockwise if looking up at the fan). Take a look at the fan blades. You want them to spin in the direction that the blades are angled upwards. This will push the warm air up and create a downward draft. You can even run the ceiling fan at a higher speed for a stronger (and thus cooler) draft. Now, this is not going to make the air cooler. It just creates a breeze which cools your skin, much like the wind on a warm day. You still have to use your house’s cooling system to keep the room from getting hot but by using it in conjunction with a ceiling fan you won’t have to turn your thermostat down as much. This can save you some money right there. You can save a little more by turning the ceiling fans off when no one is home.

Contrary to what you may think, if you have high ceilings in your home, you probably shouldn’t run your ceiling fans at all. By having the hot air up near a high ceiling, this creates an insulated cushion between the hot air outside the roof and the cool air near the floor below.

Testing Your Fan

Just in case you are still unsure which direction your fan should turn, there is an easy way to test it out. Stand directly underneath your ceiling fan and turn it on the highest speed. Try this out by flipping the switch both ways. If you feel a breeze blowing in your face, then that is the right direction for running the ceiling fan in the summer. If you don’t feel any breeze, that is because the fan is pulling the air up, not down. This would be the right direction for winter.