Three common myths about ceiling fans - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Three common myths about ceiling fans

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

$35 a month: That’s the amount of money we might be wasting thanks to a common household myth.

Most people thin a ceiling fan cools the air and spins cheaply -- perhaps just pennies per month.

"Unfortunately it doesn't," said Robert Williams, a Duke Energy consumer advisor.

Williams debunked the myth that ceiling fans are cheap to run – specifically when they’re running around the clock.

First, Williams explained that ceiling fans are only effective in an occupied room.

"Ceiling fans do not cool rooms,” he said. “Ceiling fans cool people."

Fans merely circulate the air and give occupants the feeling of a lower temperature. So a fan that is running in an empty room is worthless.

"That's a waste of energy," he said.

Next, Williams estimated five fans hang from the typical home and that it costs $7 per month to run full time. Multiply those two and you discover a whopper of an unnecessary addition to your monthly electric bill.

“That's $35 bucks a month that it, conceivably, could cost," Williams said.

Williams said smart consumers should switch their fans off when they leave a room.

We questioned two other commonly held notions about fans:


For years, I’ve heard that the invisible vortex fans create is too much for bugs. The thinking is, their little wings can’t keep up with the swirling air.

So we asked an expert.

Dr. Phillip Koehler, a renowned entomologist at The University of Florida, said lab experiments have shown mosquitoes are unable to bite at wind speeds in excess of 5 mph. Koehler said flies don't like wind either.

But breezy conditions are no replacement for repellant.


It’s probably coated in dust, but the little switch on the side of your ceiling fan has a big impact on how useful your fan is.

That switch controls which direction the blades spin. And Williams said it is vital for maximum efficiency.

"We have a winter season and we have a summer season," he said, noting that those seasons hinge on the switch.

Williams recommended counterclockwise for spring and summer, saying that direction helps lift warm air toward the ceiling. For fall and winter, Williams suggests turn your fan blade to clockwise, since that direction pulls warm air toward the floor.

Confession: most of the fans in my house were spinning the wrong way. That mistake has since been corrected!

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