The cost to heat and cool your home is likely your most significant energy expense. It accounts for 48 percent of the energy use in a typical American household, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. While that number may seem a bit discouraging, it provides you with a significant opportunity for savings. As the largest energy cost, any changes you make to your heating and cooling habits can have a considerable impact on your bill. One way you can cut back on these costs is to use your ceiling fan year-round.

When it’s hot
For summer cooling, a ceiling fan turning counterclockwise creates airflow providing a cool breeze directly below the fan as soon as you turn it on. This simple act can help you save on air conditioning costs. The draft from the fan can make you feel 4 to 8 degrees cooler, but you’ll only save if you increase your thermostat setting by that amount. Since a ceiling fan uses significantly less energy than you’re HVAC unit, it can lead to serious savings on your electric bill. A 4-degree increase can save 10 to 15 percent on your cooling bills.

While using your ceiling fan is an excellent way to save some money on cooling costs, there are still a couple of ways the device could cause you to waste energy. First of all, you should know that a ceiling fan cools people, not rooms. The draft makes you feel colder, but it does nothing to change the overall temperature in the room. Therefore, if there are no people in the room, you should turn the ceiling fan off. Otherwise, it’s just wasting energy.

You should also be aware that the ceiling fan’s draft does little to cool your pet. If your pet stays indoors while you’re away from home, you need to keep your home at a comfortable temperature for their well-being. However, leaving the ceiling fan running for them is pointless. The sweat glands on your pet are much different than they are on a human. For example, most of your dog’s sweat glands are located around his footpads. Because of this, the draft from your ceiling fan won’t keep him cool. Turn it off to avoid excess spending.

When it’s cold
Although it may seem counterintuitive, you should also use your ceiling fan in colder months when your heater is on. Most ceiling fans are equipped with a switch to change the direction the blades rotate. In the winter, flip this switch, so your blades rotate clockwise.

At a slow speed, the clockwise movement of these blades will create an updraft, pushing the warm air near your ceiling down into your living space. This added warmth can help keep your home cozy so you don’t have to raise the temperature on your thermostat…and it can help lower energy use by up to 10 percent.