Do you recall a time when a ceiling fan in a room was a new development? I hear stories about only the very most modern houses including a ceiling fan with their overhead lighting design. Some people applauded the ability to do away with the free standing fans they would use to circulate air in bedrooms (though some kept them on, even to this day, for the white noise…. if you know one of these rare folks I would like to direct you to Brookestone Store for a noise machine that will check one gift off of your holiday shopping list!). As they became less costly and installation was as easy as watching a DIY television show, we all went ceiling fan crazy.
If there wasn’t a ceiling fan in every room, it seemed passé or inadequate and immediately mandated an adaptation kit to transform that plain glass fixture to a fan mount. As with everything else in design, the pendulum slowly crept the other way until weary buyers wondered if the faux wood fan blades connected with fake brass were a dated element that signaled tired design. At this point, there are a few points to be made about ceiling fans that will certainly be an argument in the positive for this commonly unmentioned hero.
First, as stated above, a ceiling fan in the bedroom is a must have for many buyers. We are certainly spoiled, particularly in America, when it comes to our desire for sleeping in temperature controlled comfort. It really isn’t even as much about the temperature of the room as it is about the air circulation. Something about unmoving air trapped by our energy efficient windows and highly insulated walls can become stifling by 3am and cause a restless night or even worse lead to that wide awake middle of the night list making insomnia that never lets up until approximately 45 minutes before your alarm is supposed to ring……
Anyway, the ability to sleep under gently moving air is indeed a plus. How many writers have described an ideally relaxed moment including a gently blowing breeze? Exactly. It’s an ideal. Yes, you could achieve this with a $20 oscillating fan from the drug store but that creates its own shadowed dark of night obstacles for you to navigate on your bleary eyed way to the bathroom…. Certainly better to have the fan tucked tidily away on the ceiling. Smart use of space I say.
Next is energy efficiency. We are all trying to be better conservationists of our natural resources and living in the relative hardship of keeping the thermostat a little higher in the summer and a little lower in the winter. However, we certainly can make this sacrifice more tolerable by keeping the air moving. Obviously, we can accomplish this with the ceiling fan, however, there is a little secret some people don’t know or don’t recall that can make this effort even more productive. Here goes. You can change the direction of the fan blades in order to increase your fan’s contribution to your desired temperature. Because the blades are tilted, the fan either pushes air up or down according to the direction it spins.
In the summer, you want to set the fan to spin so that it is pulling hot air UP and away from the surface. As we all learned in primary school science, hot air rises so the fan is simply working with nature when spinning this direction. You can probably surmise that this means you want the fan to work toward the opposite goal in the winter, helping keep the heated air down closer to the surface to maximize our comfort without turning up the thermostat.
Though we typically associate fans with cooling us off in the summer, when used correctly in the winter, a fan becomes a true energy hero fighting against nature to push that warm air back down from the ceiling. How is this accomplished you may ask? Typically, there is a small switch on the body of the fan that you simply move from one position to the other to change the spin direction. It’s as easy (or hard) as finding a ladder.
Finally, the thought that ceiling fans may be part of only dated designs. This is categorically untrue. There are so many different styles of ceiling fans now, many lighting stores have their own show room or area dedicated to showing them off. There are sleek modern looking affairs, various sizes, multiple colors and finishes…. I even saw one recently with clear Lucite blades that was extraordinarily high tech, industrial looking, multiple location coordinated blades, ones designed to look like palm fronds, etc. etc.
Though most people discovered they did not want a fan over the dining room table where it was likely to rapidly cool off the Holiday meal, most other rooms can find a fan that blends completely with the overall design while still working to accomplish the goals stated above. Oh and perhaps one of the best technological advances in the fan industry was pairing this circulation work horse with the undeniable pinnacle of modern convenience: the remote control!