Something is blowing in the wind, and hopefully it’s hot air, not your hard-earned dollars.
Most ceiling fans come with 3 cords, one for light, one for speed, and one for direction. Now assuming you’ve got the light and speed figured out, what about direction? It’s important to understand the physics of heat movement to get the most out of your fan.
In the summer your ceiling fan should turn counter-clockwise. This pushes air down, giving you a cooling feeling of air movement on your skin, but more importantly, forcing hot air down, away from where it usually wants to be. This causes the cool air generated by your air conditioner to mix with the hot air up at your ceiling to create moderate temperature air. If you don’t have fans used in conjunction with your air conditioning, you will often experience the cake-layer effect, where the basement is chilly, the main floor is moderate, and the upstairs is stifling.
In the winter your ceiling fan should turn clockwise. This pulls colder air upward to the middle of the room and sends warmer air down the sides of the walls, warming rooms gradually and evenly. In the winter you can set your fan at a slower speed since you do not want to experience a breeze in the winter, which will make you feel cooler.
There are of course exceptions! In the summer in areas where you are working with papers, playing cards, or eating, you may not want a breeze directly on you, in this case you can reverse the fan to increase air flow or turn it off entirely. In the winter if you have smokers in your house, having the fan draw air upward will push the smell of smoke throughout the house. In this case having a fan pushing air down will help to suppress and contain the smoke smell, for those days when it’s too cold to go outside for a cigarette!
Air circulation is an important part not only of keeping your home’s air temperature comfortable, but it will help save money on heating too, by making the most out of the conditioned or heated air your house produces, and evenly distributing it throughout, it reduces the load on your air conditioner and furnace. Objects in your home absorb heat and cold, which is why it is easier (and cheaper) to maintain a warm room than it is to warm up a cold room. Good air circulation has the benefit of a healthier home too, as stagnant indoor air can exacerbate a build-up of molds and dusts causing a worsening of allergies and sickness.