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Heat rises, so blowing air at the windshield, or at the face, will just result in heat near the roof of the vehicle. You need to blow air at the "feet" level and it will rise upwards heating the entire vehicle.
The exception to this rule is if your windshield is foggy, or has a layer of frost on it. In this case a concentration of high heat, and high air velocity will help in clearing the windshield more quickly. Once the windshield is cleared then return the controls to the "feet" level. The RAV will automatically turn on the AC compressor in this position (defrost) to help remove moisture from the air (remember those puddles under you car on hot humid summer days).
As you have already noted, the "recirc" position can result in faster temperature rises, but since the moisture from your breath, and melted snow on the floor now saturates the air, it forms condensation when it touches the cold windshield. I have not seen much reduced heating times in the "recirc" position so I do not use it.
When you are not using the "recirc", fresh air is drawn from outside, through the grills at the base of the windshield. It is important that this area be swept free of snow so that air can enter the vehicle and blow across the heater core with high volume.
Rick L Ontario Canada
2008 Silver RAV4 Limited V6 4WD
Last edited by Rickl; 12-31-2012 at 07:02 PM.