Using Fans To Stay Cool

Top tips to stay cooler using fans properly.

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If you're looking for ways to beat the heat this summer, there's more ways to do it than just cranking up the air conditioner and your electric bills. In fact, for thousands of years, people survived in hot climates by simply learning to manage the circulation of the air around them. Here's how to use fans to best create a cool breeze inside without turning on the AC.

Make Sure Ceiling Fans are Spinning in the Right Direction


Many people don't realize that their ceiling fans actually run in two directions. The normal direction, counterclockwise, pushes air down into a room and creates the breeze that helps you feel cooler. The reverse direction, clockwise, pulls air up towards the ceiling so that it forces warmer air back down to help you feel warmer during the winter. To beat the heat, make sure your ceiling fan is spinning the right way -- there's usually a small switch near the center of the fan just below the fan blades.

Some ceiling fans with remote controls may offer the reverse switch there. Regardless, make sure the fan is off and not spinning before changing direction to avoid burning out the motor.

Remember Ceiling Fans Only Help When You're in the Room

Ceiling fans are designed to move air within a single room. Even if you have the doors or windows wide open, they create minimal airflow between other rooms or the outside. Because of this, ceiling fans don't actually change the temperature, but only make you feel cooler. Leaving them running when you leave the room only adds to your electric bill.

Use Window Fans To Create A Breeze


The best way to create actual air circulation is to use window fans. Before air conditioning, most homes in hot climates were designed so that when the windows were opened, natural breezes would cool the home. Today, most builders forget about this natural cooling and just install a central air conditioner. This doesn't mean you can't duplicate the effect. To do so, just place window fans on each end of your home. Have the fans on the cooler side pull air in while the fans on the warmer side push air out.

Fans in windows is also great in the evening when the sun is down. They bring in fresh, cool air and help you sleep better as we mention in 10 Ways To Sleep Better and Best Ways To Stay Cool While Sleeping.

Don't Forget About What's Outside


Whether you're using window fans or just want to leave the windows open to take advantage of a nice day, don't forget about what's outside your home. Don't place fans in windows above garbage cans or other sources of foul odors. Keep in mind that an open window is an entry point for burglars, and take appropriate precautions for your area; an adjustable window lock that only allows a window to be partially opened will almost always be a good idea.

Be aware of humidity levels. While cloudy days just before or after rain may be cooler, they'll also be wetter. Leaving windows open during this time will increase the humidity levels in your home, and it will take hours of running the air conditioner to get the humidity back down. Also keep an eye on the outside temperature. Once it's warmer outside than inside, it's time to close your windows and the curtains to help hold the inside temperature longer.

Watch Out For Obstructions

Using fans to stay cool is all about air flow, so watch out for anything that might block it. With ceiling fans, this usually won't be a problem, but pay close attention to possible obstacles when using window fans to circulate air through your home. Doors between rooms are the most obvious, but large pieces of furniture will also get in the way.

Don't Use Fans To Push Air Conditioning


If you have a room or area of your home that is warmer than the rest of your home even when your air conditioner is running, you may be tempted to use fans to push the cooler air towards those areas. This will actually keep those areas warmer. The reason is that your air conditioner doesn't add cold; it removes heat. In order to do so, it sucks the warm air in your home in through the central intake vent. By pushing air into the warmer areas of your home, you block the warm air from being pulled towards the intake vent.

Bigger Is Usually Better

When it comes to fans, bigger is usually better. Two things affect airflow - fan speed and the size of the blades. Larger blades can push more air and create a strong breeze. In addition, faster fan speeds are usually noisier, so while a small fan on fast and a large fan on slow may be able to create the same airflow, the larger fan will probably be less noticeable if there's room for it.
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