Attic Fans as Alternatives to A/C
Many people look for ways to keep cool without resorting to air conditioning when the temperatures rise. While A/C is great, it can also be costly if you have to run it constantly. For those looking to stay cool on a budget, a whole house attic fan is a great option that will likely suffice on all but the hottest days. These fans are able to pull air from every part of the home via suction and replace warm air with cooler air.
1. Getting the Most Out of a House Fan
It’s a good rule of thumb to open some window screens and turn on the house fan whenever outdoor temperatures fall below indoor temps. In these scenarios, your fan will pull the cooler air through the house and force the warm air out through the roof vents.
If you like the way air-conditioning can cool down the house before the day gets started but want to save energy, there’s a way to simulate this feature with your fan. You can run the fan prior to sunrise and trap the colder air inside. This should last you for quite some time in a moderate climate and in the evening you can open the windows again when the temperatures drop.
Whole-house fans are typically ideal for multi-story homes, although they can still work in single-story homes. There are some regions—mostly those with mild climates—that utilize the full potential of these fans more effectively.
2. Choosing a Whole-House Fan Design
Consumers seem to like the ceiling-mounted models best. They’re unobtrusive as they are installed between the living area and the ceiling, as the name suggests.
Another option is to go for a ducted whole house attic fan, a quieter model as they’re placed in the attic proper, further from the living space. You can position the ducts to vent air out of the house directly via flexible ductwork.
A variable speed model works just like it sounds by letting you circulate air at a gentle speed or flush air out of the house quickly at higher speeds.
Fans with programmable thermostats give you added control and convenience but make sure before you use them that your heating and cooling are switched off, windows are open, and there is no fire going if you have a fireplace. There are a few models with insulated doors for an air seal. If your model of choice doesn’t have these doors, remember to cover it up in winter, otherwise, it will be as though a window is open. Just take the covering off in the spring and remember to open at least one window.
3. Choosing a Size
Experts say that a good whole-house fan should be able to exchange all the warm air in your home within three or so minutes maximum.
You can calculate the flow rate by doubling the total square footage of the whole house. Find this number and then find a fan with the same or better cubic feet per minute capacity.
We recommend consulting an expert in ventilation to get a professional opinion on the ideal size of a whole-house fan for your needs.
4. A Cost-Benefit Analysis
On the budget end, whole-house fans are about one hundred and fifty dollars, and five hundred and fifty on the premium end. You should also factor in the cost of installation, which could be as much as one thousand dollars.
There are certain places and companies that will give out rebates for whole-house fans. For example, in Sacramento reports indicate that these fans use only ten percent of the energy that air conditioning uses. Thus, in only a few seasons the fans pay for themselves many times over