questionsdo you use your ceiling fans in the winter?

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Yes. Reversed. It is supposed to save on the energy bill (South Carolina here).

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I know it is supposed to help on heating bills too, but I never seem to do it. It just seems wrong to use electricity to save gas.

And having the warm air blowing back down on you just seems colder. Maybe I'm doing it wrong.

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@bnbsouthworth: There is a switch on your fan. If you move it up when your fan is off, it will reverse the direction of the fan pulling the air.
I have tried this and do not like.
FYI

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I agree, I tried this once and I just felt a draft. Maybe it makes things more efficient, but if it makes you FEEL colder then it's not worth it in my opinion. Plus, I have allergies and have heard that using the fan this way pulls up allergens/dust from the floor. I don't know if it's true or not, but that's what I heard.

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we keep the house at 67degs in the winter and still often run the ceiling fans, but we prefer the "I'm cold so I should snuggle under this blanket with my spouse" feeling...getting too hot is just annoying.

we don't switch the direction of the fan, but that's probably just laziness/"i don't ever think about it"-itis.

worth noting we're in Chicagoland, so it's always cold outside at this time.

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My fans run all the time. Of course it's 74 here in south Florida today.

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Here in the south eastern US, it still gets chilly in the winter, so we usually reverse the fans at night, or chilly days. As long as the heater/AC is up to par then the fan should help equalize the temperature. With it blowing down, its pushing the warm air down to be cooled off which is the opposite of what you want in the winter and can cause the heater to run longer than it should increasing your heating bill.

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I live in balmy Michigan where it's about 26 degrees right now. I have good fans, but they're not going to magically turn 26 into 70. Hence, I use my furnace.

By my unintelligent logic, if I'm using my furnace there shouldn't be any need for a ceiling fan.

EDIT: Just read answer from @screwballl and am trying this fancy technique in my family room currently. I'm trying to have faith, but all I feel so far is a draft...

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@caffeine_dude: Thanks -- I KNEW I was doing it wrong! I thought that you turned it clockwise to blow the risen hot air back down. I can never keep it straight, and neither way seems to feel right. I'll just stick to using it (probably the wrong way) in the summer -- when all I'm really looking for is some feeling of air movement.

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Running the fans is probably more important if you have vaulted/cathedral ceilings -- all that hot air gets "trapped" up at the top, by running the fans in reverse, it pushes it up to the top and down the sides as illustrated above.
Running the ceiling fan in one room would also help if you have poor circulation/ventilation in that room and are trying to draw in air from the adjacent room or hallway.
I live in Northern IL and do not run the ceiling fans in the winter.
I will however, turn the fan on my furnace (from the thermostat) to "ON" vs. "AUTO" sometimes. This forces the furnace fan to run continually, always pushing air from the vents. Theoretically, it should be cheaper than running several ceiling fans.
I pretty much only do that on days when we're in the single digits or below zero though.

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Referencing @caffeine_dude's diagram here is the logic.
Air is best circulated.
Fans blowing down recirculate air but keep you cool because they blow on you keep.
Reversing the fans keeps them from blowing on you while still recirculating air to bring the warm air down.
Also, this is far more effective in rooms with very high ceilings (loft) since there is more warm air farther away from inhabitants.....dammit @sgrman05 was quicker on the draw. :)

eta: running you furnace fan continually is not good practice. The heat loss from the venting system increases the amount of work the furnace must do.

j5 j5
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Yes, but the same reason you do - we live in Mobile and it's not that cold here most days.

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I'm in Florida....

Yes we do, pretty much all year round and just reverse the cycle on the freezing days.

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South Louisiana here. We run ours occasionally to pull down the hot air from the vaulted ceiling, but mostly we run them just to stir up the air. Although we rarely have to run the heater, it gets stuffy inside and it helps to just get the air moving.

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Central FL here. My ceiling fans run 24/7 almost year round. Only turned off when it gets really, really cold outside for several days in a row. I do have vaulted ceilings and the air vents are at ceiling height. Odd, but it seems to push the hot/or cool air down into the room.

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We only use ours when the ball-and-chain has a hot flash.

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@sgrman05: I run my fans in the winter for this exact reason. What some northerners may not realize is that most houses in the south have the climate control vents in or near the ceiling. Most homes in the north have them in the floors. And this all makes sense. In the south, you're more likely to run the air conditioner. Cold air sinks. So you want vents in the ceiling so that the cold air coming out will sink to the floor and be more likely to cool the whole room. Similarly i the north, you're more likely to run the heater. Hot air rises. So you need the vents in the floor.
I live in Texas and have very high ceilings (14+ feet in most of the house). Which is great and I love it. But between those ceilings and the vents being way far up, if I didn't run my ceiling fans, it would be pretty chilly in the house most of the time. The fan, run in the "pull the air up" direction helps a lot.

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A lot also depends on the type of heating you have. We live in an older house with badly located and inefficient electric baseboard heaters. Instead of using them, we heat the house with a wood stove. If we didn't run our ceiling fans in the winter, all the heat would stay near the stove and the ceiling.

Since the fans are always running, we do notice an uncomfortable draft when the house is cold (such as after we've been away), but once we build a nice fire, everything evens out again. (Luckily we also have nice thick walls that help hold the heat.)

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We live in an older home with no heat upstairs, so when it reaches 20 or below we turn on the fans at night.