If "pretty is as pretty does", then pretty is a ceiling fan in the summertime saving energy while cooling the house. In the South, ceiling fans are about as essential as sweet iced tea. We don't like to suffer the heat or ugly fans, if we can help it.
Ceiling fans have a reputation for being unattractive or unsophisticated, even if they are highly practical and energy efficient. Maybe ceiling fans are just misunderstood? If that's the case, then it's time to set the record straight on these whirling wonders.
Why do I need a ceiling fan?
Ceiling fans help maintain a constant temperature in the room to prevent the AC (or heater) from working too hard, thereby saving energy. With windows open, fans circulate the fresh air so "canned" air doesn't even have to be used. Operating a ceiling fan requires no more electricity than a 100 watt bulb but can shave up to 40% off your energy bill when used consistently. That's green for the planet and for your wallet!
What sized fan do I need?
For rooms that are smaller (11 x11 or so), a 42" or 36" fan is appropriate. For larger rooms, fans can be closer to 52" in diameter. There are even tiny ceiling fans that are about 30" wide for small spaces like pantries, bathrooms, offices or apartment size kitchens. Basically, choose the fan that fits the scale of the room. Any size fan can move around air, but if you are concerned just check the CFM (cubic feet of air per minute) rating.
Which direction is my fan supposed to turn?
In the summer, rotate the blades counter-clockwise to cool a room. In the winter, flip the switch on the fan's motor to rotate the blades clock-wise to push the warm air down into the room.
Why is my fan noisy?
Start with a fan from a reputable company and be willing to pay a little more. A quality fan will be worth a few more bucks and should not be noisy due to finer machined parts. However, any fan can get out of balance or have a loose light kit. Tighten the screws or use a balance kit to take the wobble out of your fan before giving up on it.
What are the best ceiling fan brands for quality and beauty?
Yes, fans can be just as lovely as designer light fixtures. Vintage ceiling fans have gorgeous, weathered wood blades and hand-tooled metal casings. Newer fans are being developed with more ingenuity and variety in design to coordinate with modern or classic interiors. For example, Casablanca has a stately chandelier ceiling fan and a grand 84" wide fan with silk blades. Novel, no? Fanimation, Minka-Aire, and Hunter are also quality fan companies with stand-out designs. Be aware that the lines (like the lower grade Hunter) carried at large hardware stores are not necessarily the best of the brand as those stores commission fans for their purpose.
Now that you've had a little fan-ucation, go out and buy one before the summer sets in. You can sip your iced tea and feel smug about doing your part to save energy while keeping your cool.