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Use Fans and Insulation to Help Retain Heat in Your Home

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It’s no secret that heat rises, and capturing the hot air that travels up to a home’s ceiling is one way to keep your home warmer during the cold months. Fans can be used to encourage air circulation and move the warm air down from the ceiling to your level. Using fans to circulate heat allows you to lower the thermostat and save on energy bills. Ensure your home is warm this winter by making sure your insulation is secure, and by using fans to circulate heat. Here’s a look at how it works.

Blinded by Science

The laws of thermodynamics tell us that hot air rises, but it can also move sideways, down, and back around again. Cold air is heavier than warm air, and settles closer to the floor. Heat particles are lighter and layer on top of the cold particles. During the winter months, warm, low density air wants to rise to the highest part of the room. By playing scientist and experimenting with fan placement, you can manipulate the balance of air flow in a room and direct the hot air where you need it most. If you have a ceiling fan in your home, air can be redirected by changing the direction of the fan. When the blades rotate in reverse (clockwise, as opposed to the counter-clockwise motion needed to cool a room), the hot air that is up by the ceiling is circulated lower into the room.

The Right Direction

This transfer of air can be achieved without a ceiling fan as well. If you have a pedestal fan, you can similarly use it to direct the heat. Most pedestal fans, like the 18″ Remote Control Cyclone® Pedestal Fan or the 20″ Oscillating Remote Control Pedestal Fan, come with a head that can tilt. Adjust your fan so that you are able to tilt the fan head fully back. This will allow the fan to move cold air up toward the ceiling and create a circular air pattern to push the warm air down. However, the movement of hot air downward only works if the fan is set to the lowest setting. Otherwise, a breeze is created that will chill the room. Some wall-mount fans and table fans also have a tilt head feature and can be used to circulate air. The 18″ Oscillating Wall-Mount Fan with Remote offers a multi-position head tilt, as does the 12″ Oscillating Wall-Mount Fan with Anti-Rust Grills. Table fans like the 12″ Classic Metal Table Fan and 12″ Performance Table Fan can also be used.

Not a Fan? Stick with a Ceramic Heater

Not a fan of using fans during the winter months? If you don’t plan to use a fan to evenly circulate your home’s heating, you can warm up selected areas of the house that are in use while other rooms aren’t being used. That keeps your thermostat down instead of setting it higher to compensate for cold spots. Ceramic heaters warm small areas just enough to keep them toasty while you’re in those rooms and can be shut off when you leave. Small heaters are relatively inexpensive to run, and portable enough to be moved easily from room to room. But making sure your home is properly insulated is a larger step you can take to retain heat and block the entry of cold air from outside as much as possible. If you’d like to experiment with a fan and air circulation, but are cautious about the effectiveness, there is a happy medium –  the All Season Comfort Control Tower Fan & Heater in One. This tower heater/fan hybrid offers four quiet fan speeds that can be used to circulate air, as well as three heating speeds to keep you toasty.

Retaining Attic Heat

Experimenting with fan placement or adding a personal space heater can only go so far if your home is not properly insulated. Heat may be rising to your attic space and leading outside before it has a chance to cycle back into the rest of the home. Whether you have a walk-up attic or one with just a crawl space, take the opportunity to retain the heat that naturally rises up there. If the attic is used as livable space, check the windows for leaks and make sure the walls are sufficiently insulated. Some simple methods for warming the area include tacking insulating plastic over the windows and using portable heaters during the cold season. Having an energy audit done by your local utility company is a smart way to determine if further insulation should be added to a crawl space attic, which is usually insulated with either batt and roll or cellulose loose-fill insulation. These materials are available at home improvement stores and can be installed yourself or by a contractor. Make sure your insulation measures at least 7 inches in depth. By using fans, new insulation, or a space heater (or a combination of the three), your home has the ability to retain heat longer, keeping you and your family warm and your energy bills down.


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