You might think you know how to use a fan to cool down a room already – you just switch it on, right? But in actual fact, fans don't cool down your room in the way that an air conditioning unit can.
They do relieve some of the struggles of living in high temperatures, circulating air and making you feel cooler, but even the best modern fans won't actually lower the temperature of your room by themselves.
There are, however, still good reasons to use a fan. 'While air conditioning systems are powerful and undoubtedly effective in cooling down a room, fans are easily the most energy-efficient and, therefore, cost-effective solution,' says Chris Michael, managing director of Meaco.
'A fan blowing cool air around a room is far cheaper than running an air conditioner, in fact, the difference in energy consumption is quite staggering,' he adds.
There are also simple hacks to make your fan work harder for you during hot weather, helping to bring down the overall temperature of your home if you use them in the right way. Here are our top hacks you need to know for a heatwave.
How to use a fan to cool down a room
Think of it this way, a fan cools down your body thanks to the sensation of air movement, but not the room at all, so there's no point putting a fan on in a room you're not using. With a few simple additions, or by using the fan in a specific way at a certain time of day, you can help shift the balance in your favour and keep your room cooler.
1. Try the ice trick
This idea isn't new, but it's a tried and trusted hack to make a fan act more like an air conditioner that can help you better sleep in the heat. 'A simple trick is to place a bowl of ice in front of the fan to cool the air,' says Hayley Thistleton, a sleep expert at SleepSeeker (opens in new tab). Make sure to put the bowl on a tray, or similar, to catch any condensation as the ice melts.
If you find that ice cubes are melting too quickly, 'try bottles of frozen water instead,' Hayley adds. These should last longer and still cool the air being circulated by the fan.
2. Use a fan to cool your home at night
One of the best ways to use a fan in extreme weather is to cool down a room once the temperature drops outside.
'Instinctively, the first port of call is often to open a window as far as possible, but consider this: is the air outside cooler than the air inside?' asks Meaco (opens in new tab)'s Chris Michael. 'If the answer is no, you may want to keep the window shut.'
Once the evening sets in, you might find that your home has retained heat from the day, while the outside temperature has dropped. Here's where your fan can help to cool your home effectively.
Once the temperature outside is lower, open windows on either side of the house to create a cross-draft. Then place a fan by one of the windows, facing outwards. This will help to draw out and displace the hotter air inside your home with the cooler air outside. If you have another fan, use it in the room to help circulate the air coming in from outside, too.
3. Ensure ceiling fans are going in the right direction
Ceiling fans can feel like a lifesaver in absence of air conditioning, but did you know that the direction they rotate matters? In summer, fans should be set to rotate counterclockwise. This creates a downdraft that generates that air movement factor that generates that cooling sensation. In winter, they can be set to rotate clockwise, which creates an updraft that can help distribute warm air from your home's heating system.
Hugh is the Deputy Editor of Livingetc.com. From working on a number of home, design and property publications and websites, including Grand Designs, ICON and specialist kitchen and bathroom magazines, Hugh has developed a passion for modern architecture, impactful interiors and green homes. Whether moonlighting as an interior decorator for private clients or renovating the Victorian terrace in Essex where he lives (DIYing as much of the work as possible), you’ll find that Hugh has an overarching fondness for luxurious minimalism, abstract shapes and all things beige. He’s just finished a kitchen and garden renovation, and has eyes set on a bathroom makeover for 2022.
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