Article Taken from "This Old House"
Written by LESLIE PLUMMER CLAGETT
The right ceiling fan will help cool down sizzling July afternoons and add a nice touch to any room. Ceiling fans are a happy meeting of the economical and the esthetic. They're one of the few household appliances that can save you money — as much as 15 percent off your energy bills — and look good enough to enhance the decor of nearly any room. Over the years, the choice of fan styles has broadened beyond the traditional Tiffany model with its dark wood blades and elaborate glass shade. You can now find designs that complement your clean-lined kitchen or contemporary living room as well as traditional bedroom or dining room. There's also a fan to meet any budget. The typical retail display includes models that range from less than $100 for a bare-bones unit to well over $1,000 for an ornate design with cutting-edge controls and light fixtures. Here's a primer on finding the fan that's right for your home.
Choosing a Fan
When shopping for a fan, you'll need to know what size and style are right for your room and if any of the optional features, such as light fixtures or remote controls, make sense for that environment. Fans are sized by the length of their paddles, which should be matched to room size. The paddle span on residential fans ranges from 29 to 54 inches. Select paddle size based on the room you want to cool; see "Size It Right." If you live in a three- or four-season locale, a reversible fan can provide year-round benefits. During the summer, the forward (counterclockwise) motion of the fan cools the room. With a fan, you'll conserve power without compromising on comfort. You can typically save between 4 and 8 percent of your cooling expenses for every degree you raise the thermostat in summer. Ceiling fans can also help lower heating bills — up to 2 percent on heating costs for every degree the thermostat is lowered in winter. To get savings, switch the fan to run slowly in reverse: The clockwise movement breaks up the warm air that collects at the ceiling and pushes it down into the room. (Some fans have a special winter setting, in which intermittent bursts of speed blend warm and cool air.) This can be especially effective in rooms with a very high, angled ceiling or cathedral ceiling that collects a lot of heat. However, some authorities argue the benefits can't be felt in rooms with standard 8-foot ceilings. If you are buying a fan for its cooling ability, experiment during the heating season. But not all fans have reverse switches, so double-check before purchasing a unit.