Ceiling fans are one of the most sensible solutions when it comes to achieving a comfortable, energy efficient home. In fact, ceiling fans have been helping to heat and cool residences for more than a hundred years. By stirring up breezes in the summer, and circulating warm air in the winter, ceiling fans effectively reduce the demand on conventional heating and cooling systems. And to top it all off, they do it with undeniable charm.
Ceilings Fans and Energy Efficiency
Ceiling fans increase the energy efficiency of your home in two ways. In the summer a fan makes a room more comfortable at higher temperatures thanks to the slight breeze it creates. That simple fact makes it possible to set the A/C five to seven degrees higher than if fans weren't installed.
In the winter, on the other hand, your fan serves another purpose altogether. Warm air from your furnace rises and collects at the ceiling, where it doesn't do you much good. By flipping the switch on your ceiling fan so it turns the other direction, you eliminate the stiff breeze it creates, but still benefit from the air circulation it provides. All that warm air up at the ceiling is conveniently recirculated throughout your home.
Ceiling Fan 101
The amount of air a fan moves depends on its construction and placement. The number, length and pitch of the blades are important, as is the fan's distance from the ceiling and the revolutions per minute delivered by the fan's motor. More blades, bigger blades, steeper fan blade pitch, and more powerful motors provide you with the biggest returns. From a design perspective, most fans have three to five blades made from solid wood, plywood, or composite wood materials. The blades can be painted or veneered, and come in so many styles that there's sure to be a ceiling fan out there to catch your fancy.
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Ceiling Fans and Placement
First of all, a fan should be installed in the center of a room, where it can provide the widest area of circulation, though be careful that blade tips are at least two feet from walls or sloped ceilings. You can mount your fan flush or suspended from a drop rod, depending on how high your ceilings are. In order to avoid injury, however, you're well advised not to mount your fan lower than seven feet from the floor. Any lower than that and you could lose a finger or two stretching when you stand up from the couch.
Ceiling Fans: Installation
Fans can be installed by a do-it-yourselfer, though since installation involves working with electricity it's important that you understand basic electrical work and safety before you tackle this job. If you have any doubts about your ability to get it done safely, you can hire just about any handyman or small contractor to come in and install your new fans for you. If you do install fans yourself, be sure to cut all power at the breaker box before you begin, and remember that ceiling fans require solid support. Their heavy weight and centrifugal motion strains hangers, so they should never be mounted to conventional ceiling fixture boxes. Other than that there's not much to it. Some basic wiring, attaching the fan to the box, and you're in business. All you'll have to do is balance the blades, so that your ceiling fan runs smoothly, and provides with the comfort and improved energy efficiency you expect.