Author Topic: Running a Ceiling Fan In the Winter - Do they help?  (Read 7153 times)

Edge of Reason

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Running a Ceiling Fan In the Winter - Do they help?
« on: December 07, 2014, 08:13:22 PM »
Ceiling fans installed in all bedrooms (with 8' high ceilings).  The house is entirely electric (including electric baseboard heat  supplemented with a wood stove).  The wood stove does keep the electric bill down (averages out to $177/month burning around 2 cord per winter) but that heat has to travel upstairs and across the house to reach the bedrooms.  The bedrooms are above the stove but at the farthest possible from the stairs.  I won't cut vents in the floor because the family room downstairs (where the tv and stove are) is right under the bedrooms and I want these to remain quiet.  I run a small fan (facing into the family room) the bottom of the stairs to kick start the heat up the stairs and this does make a difference.

A ductless mini-split heat pump is hopefully in our future but in the meantime....I know ceiling fans are a great help in the summer (making the rooms feel cooler when you run them counter clockwise) but I wonder if running the fans clockwise in the winter will help make these rooms feel warmer or will this just run up my electric bill.   Any thoughts? 
« Last Edit: December 07, 2014, 08:27:14 PM by Edge of Reason »

SwordGuy

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Re: Running a Ceiling Fan In the Winter - Do they help?
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2014, 08:20:57 PM »
My wife loves running the damn fan during the winter.  I hate it.  Anywhere the fan's air touches me starts to freeze.

deborah

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Re: Running a Ceiling Fan In the Winter - Do they help?
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2014, 08:36:07 PM »
According to my energy efficiency book
Quote
Heating efficiency can be improved by using heat shifters such as a ceiling fan or a simple ducted system. A reversible, variable speed ceiling fan (which can also be used for summer cooling) is useful in rooms with high ceilings to help break up the layer of hot air at ceiling level and move warm air beck down to floor level.
Sounds like they won't do you much good, as the ceilings aren't high, but it could be worth it.

Another Reader

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Re: Running a Ceiling Fan In the Winter - Do they help?
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2014, 09:10:45 PM »
Most ceiling fans are reversible.  They are designed to push warm air down in winter.  Your problem is moving the warm air up the staircase and circulating it upstairs.  Perhaps leaving the bedroom fans in the "summer" position will pull warmer air into those rooms.  You will have to leave the bedroom doors open to get the benefit of the upward pull, however.

You could also try a couple of radiant oil-filled heaters in the bedrooms and turn the central heat down at night.  Just heating the spaces you are using should in theory reduce your electric bill.

Emg03063

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Re: Running a Ceiling Fan In the Winter - Do they help?
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2014, 09:53:28 PM »
Air seal, and up insulate your attic.

deborah

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Re: Running a Ceiling Fan In the Winter - Do they help?
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2014, 09:57:36 PM »
Most ceiling fans are reversible.  They are designed to push warm air down in winter.  Your problem is moving the warm air up the staircase and circulating it upstairs.  Perhaps leaving the bedroom fans in the "summer" position will pull warmer air into those rooms.  You will have to leave the bedroom doors open to get the benefit of the upward pull, however.
I don't think ceiling fans would work particularly well for this - they aren't in the right position to suck air from elsewhere.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Running a Ceiling Fan In the Winter - Do they help?
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2014, 11:41:32 AM »
I work in the industry. In your case, no. The energy savings by pushing the hot air off the ceiling is completely negated by the electric cost of running the fan. It's really only when ceilings get >10feet, particularly cathedral peaks that the winter benefits come into play.

Another Reader

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Re: Running a Ceiling Fan In the Winter - Do they help?
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2014, 12:44:23 PM »
The OP is not trying to push hot air down from the ceiling.  He is trying to move it from the heat source in the family room across the first floor to the stairs, up the stairs, and back across the house to the bedrooms.  IOW, he wants to circulate the heated air throughout the house.  The easier choice would be direct venting, but he is concerned about the sound levels.  Because the OP does not have a forced air system with ducts, his alternatives seem limited.  Can you think of another way?

Greg

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Re: Running a Ceiling Fan In the Winter - Do they help?
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2014, 09:09:19 PM »
Some small box fans hanging on hooks from the ceiling would help, try to find ones that have a quiet low setting.  One or two in strategic places could make a real difference.

About ceiling fan direction for hot or cold; for cooling effect you want the fan turning so the air right beneath it is moving down, this creates more of a feel of cold air.  When heat dispersion is wanted, reverse the flow so you still are moving the air, but the downflow is at the perimeter of the room instead (air under fan moving up).  This way you usually don't feel the airflow as directly, and it will be less chilling.

chucklesmcgee

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Re: Running a Ceiling Fan In the Winter - Do they help?
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2014, 09:50:24 PM »
Depending on how much heating you need, you may find space heaters in those cold areas to be more effective long-term. Paying to push around slightly warmer air to colder areas seems like a lot of energy and fan time to get a small temperature change.. Might be a lot better just to run space heaters in the bedrooms when someone's actually inside.