Handy Guide to ceiling fans

LOW, MIDDLE, HIGH: Doug Miller, a buyer at Annapolis Lighting, recommends these fans from the summer lineup at the company’s stores in Rockville, Fairfax City and Annapolis. / 1) Panama by Casablanca, $299, 50- or 42-inch blade span. Choice of finishes for motor and blades. Six-speed control or pull-chain. Remote control adaptable. (CASABLANCA)

Blame the 1970s energy crisis for igniting America’s crush on the ceiling fan. Fans gained popularity because they were less expensive than running air conditioning. Today, they are staples of the American home, whirring away in millions of bedrooms, family rooms and porches.

Fan styles match any decor, or you can choose a model more functional than decorative. Alexandria designer Barbara Franceski goes for minimalist alternatives, such as those from modernfan.com.

Doug Miller, a buyer at Annapolis Lighting, recommends fans from the summer lineup at the company’s stores in Rockville, Fairfax City and Annapolis. (Click through the photos above and read the captions to see his picks.)

An essential thing to remember: A fan does not cool a room; it cools the person (or pet) under it. It doesn’t make sense to leave fans running unless someone is in the room to enjoy the breeze.

What’s New?

New locations. Fans are being installed in laundry rooms, master bathrooms and closets.

Coordinating designs. Manufacturers are creating design “families” of ceiling fans, sconces and bath fixtures to unify rooms.

Energy savings. Recent models have more efficient motors; larger numbers are now Energy Star rated.

Operating Tips:

Install safely. Place fans at least seven feet above the floor. Ceiling-hugger styles are advisable for lower ceilings.

Use in cold weather. During the winter, reverse the motor and operate in a clockwise direction to recirculate warm air trapped near the ceiling.

Buy two. For a room that is more than 400 square feet, sometimes getting two smaller fans is more efficient than one large one, says Joe Rey-Barreau, spokesman for the American Lighting Association.

Shop Smart:

There are lots of things to consider when buying and installing a fan to ensure you get the maximum comfort from it. Testing the noise level before you buy is also a good idea.

1. Most fans have a blade span of 36 to 60 inches. The most common size sold is a 52-inch fan. The American Lighting Association Web site, www.americanlightingassoc.com, has a guide to selecting the right fan based on the size of your room.

2.Fans have three ratings. Indoor-rated fans are for inside rooms only. Damp-rated fans are for use outdoors but in covered spaces, or in bathrooms. Wet-rated fans can be placed outside, where they have direct exposure to water.

3. Hire professionals to install your fan. They will make sure all safety regulations, electrical connections and codes are met.

Did you know?

— You can feel up to eight degrees cooler when sitting under a ceiling fan. (American Lighting Association)

— The three most popular places to put ceiling fans are bedrooms, living/family rooms and porches. (Fanimation Inc.)

POLL: Which do you prefer: ceiling fans or air conditioning? Cast your vote above left.

6Which do you prefer: ceiling fans or air conditioning? Vote in our online poll at washingtonpost.com/

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Online poll Do you prefer ceiling fans or air conditioning? Vote at washingtonpost.com/home.

The home and design coverage of Jura Koncius has taken her inside hundreds of homes, from tiny studios in Penn Quarter to country castles in Warrenton. Jura also hosts the Home Front live chat, Thursdays at 11 a.m. ET.
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