Reasons to change the direction of a ceiling fan during warmer months
On today's 'Science on Sunday,' it's that time of year when we need to be switching our ceiling fans from spinning clockwise to counterclockwise. If not, your ceiling fan will actually make it feel warmer in your home in the summer months, the exact opposite of what we want!
Here's how it works:
Warm air rises because it weighs less. In the winter months, we want that warm air to be pushed to lower levels to make the rooms feel warmer. In the summer months, we want warm air to continue to rise. As warm air rises, it cools as it ascends.
Clockwise rotation and counterclockwise rotation will determine the temperature of the room and essentially impact your heating and air conditioning bill beneficially if used correctly.
Now is the time to switch your ceiling fan to spin counterclockwise. A knob is usually located at the center of the fan. Some will have a hanging clicker. Adjust so the rotation of the fan is spinning counterclockwise. This will allow warm air to keep rising and obviously provide a breeze.
In the winter months, you'll want to change the direction to clockwise. The warm rising air will be pushed back down to lower levels where you're sitting or eating. This is in essence how low-pressure and high-pressure systems work, on a much smaller scale!
Today's experiment demonstrates how warm air rises. You'll notice the plate hardly moves until it's positioned over the mini tiki torch. The plate begins to spin over the flame. This demonstrates that warm air weighs less and, therefore, has more buoyancy and rises.
Fun fact: this buoyancy is many times the turbulence you feel onboard air flights, and planes are entering a warm layer or moving over a thermal.
Have a weather-related story idea or science experiment? Feel free to email Meteorologist Brittany Beggs at firstname.lastname@example.org