Know which way to turn for best seasonal air movement

Air movement in our homes can help us to feel much more comfortable in both the summer and the winter. It can keep your house from feeling stuffy and also help you stay warmer or cooler depending on the season.

The best way I know of to ensure good air circulation no matter what the season is to use your ceiling fan. Ceiling fans are great because they have a reversible feature. A flip of the switch and it spins the opposite way for a different season. The only problem I see is knowing which way should the fan spin for the wintertime.

If you’ve got a really good memory, you can try to remember to let it spin counterclockwise for summer and then clockwise for winter — or is it the other way around? Since I never seem to remember, I wind up using the paper test method.

Flip your ceiling fan on to a medium-speed position. Get a piece of notebook paper and hold it parallel up close to the blades. In the summertime, we want the paper to blow downwards. This creates a draft or a wind chill effect and helps us to feel cooler.

That’s the last thing we want in the wintertime, so now let’s flip the switch to the opposite position so the air is drawn upward. No more breeze and that’s the key. If you feel a breeze from your fans, you are operating them in a cooling position.

Now ask yourself this: If heat rises, why would we want to pull air upwards in the wintertime? We want the warm air down low, right? Don’t worry, the fans pulls the air upward at enough force that it effectively hits the ceiling and pushes itself back downward again. Problem solved — until next season.

Joel Wensley is a licensed mechanical contractor in the state of Michigan, a WJBK-TV Fox2 Detroit news contributor and president of Mechanical Heating & Cooling in Dearborn Heights.