Ceiling fans have become a staple of the American home



photoRecommended ceiling fans: Delano by Minka-Aire ($429), from bottom; Panama by Casablanca ($299); and Bullet by Casablanca ($419).



Doug Miller, a buyer at Annapolis Lighting in Maryland, recommends these fans:

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

Bullet by Casablanca, $419

54-inch blade span

Halogen down light

Four-speed wall control with light dimmer included

Remote control adaptable

Delano by Minka-Aire, $429

52-inch blade span

Integrated up lighting with halogen down light

Available in bronze, pewter or copper

Wall control included

Remote-control adaptable

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. Virginia designer Barbara Franceski goes for minimalist alternatives, such as those from modernfan.com.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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

• Did you know?

8: The number of degrees cooler you can feel when sitting under a ceiling fan, according to the American Lighting Association

3 most popular places to put ceiling fans, according to Fanimation Inc.: Bedrooms, living and family rooms and porches

$63: Average cost per year to operate a ceiling fan.