Handyman: Fans can keep you cooler this summer

Glenn Haege
Special to The Detroit News

Back in the day, having a big window fan was about the only way to stay cool in the summer if you didn’t have a window air conditioner. Now’s a good time to do a fan overview so you can make a wise choice.

Fan physics: When buying fans, you should also consider the amount of air that fan will push into a room to make you feel more comfortable. For example, bathroom and whole house fans generally are rated based on their ability to move air, which is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). The bigger your bathroom or house, the higher the CFM rating you’ll need.

RPM (revolutions per minute) numbers are used more for ceiling fans. Blade pitch refers to the angle of a blade as it moves through the air, with flatter ones between 10 and 12 degrees and steeper versions that have a pitch of 14 or 15 degrees.

Ceiling: Ceiling fans are one of the best ways to circulate the air and increase your comfort level and are especially popular in bedrooms. But remember, ceiling fans are only effective when you are actually in the room, because the circulation of air makes you feel cooler. The good news is that advancements in technology have also come to the ceiling fan industry.

For example, some fans use a combination of built-in sensors to autonomously control the fan’s speed to maintain a consistent room temperature. They also automatically turn on when someone enters the room.

One thing to remember is that you have to have the fan-direction switch on the ceiling fan either in the down position or to the right to ensure the blades are turning counter-clockwise, which pushes the air toward you.

Oscillating: An oscillating fan is one of the best ways to increase the air circulation in a room. Even if you are running your air conditioning, using an oscillating fan when you are in a room improves overall air circulation and will make you feel cooler and more comfortable. It also has the advantage of being portable, so you can move it from room to room.

Ventilation: Commonly known as a bathroom fan, the purpose is to vent moist air caused by using a shower or bath outside to help control the potential for mold.

Whole house: Using a whole house fan increases the air circulation throughout your entire home by drawing out the hot air and replacing it with cooler air from the outside. And it generally costs less to run than central air conditioning. But the key is that the outside air has to be cooler than than the indoor air for it to cool your house. Bringing hot, humid air into the home won’t cool you off. That is why the best time to use a whole-house fan is at night when the outside air is generally cooler.

Window: Window fans are popular in small rooms like a bedroom to help circulate the air and keep the room cooler. But today’s window fans have come a long way from the big box versions, and now you can get them with a reversible fan to allow you to bring in cool air at night or exhaust hot air during the day. These fans even have adjustable thermostats for automatic temperature control.

With all the options, you can sure find a solution to your cooling needs. There are even personal fans like the Zippie from Vornado,, that you can set on a desk or table in your home or office. They have soft, cloth blades that are safe to the touch even when the fan is operational.

Now that I’ve helped you become a fan of fans, remember those lyrics from the song: “The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind.”

If you would like to suggest a question for this column, e-mail If you want to talk to Glenn Haege, call his “Handyman Show” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536, from between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. “The Handyman Show” can be heard on more than 130 radio stations.