While they may not help you on the warmest days or on the coldest, whole house fans are a great way to keep your home comfortable in moderate weather without sending your utility bills soaring.
If your home has central heat and air, you may be able to install a whole house fan to your existing ductwork. For homes without duct work, whole house fans can be even more useful, providing the kind of ventilation these homes can’t get any other way.
In moderate weather, many people turn on the air conditioner. Often, however, all that’s needed is some air circulation and ventilation. Clean, moving air feels more comfortable than stale, stagnate air.
About Whole House Fans
Whole house fans are called attic fans in some areas, but most people now use the term attic fan for small fans mounted along ridge lines or in gables to provide attic ventilation.
The purpose of a whole house fan is to pull air in through open windows and push it out through attic and roof vents. Whole house fans are intended to keep the living areas of a home cool, but they also serve to ventilate the attic.
Whole house fans are evaluated by how much air they move. In general, they should completely change the air in a home 30 to 60 times per hour. More changes per hour are preferable in some climates. Local contractors can help you decide what’s best in your area.
Installing A Whole House Fan
You’ll be talking to a contractor anyway if you decide to install a whole house fan in your home.
It’s best to leave installation to professionals because these units must be sized to fit your home and often require a dedicated circuit and new wiring. You may also need additional attic exhaust vents.
A tightly sealing hinged door over the fan opening is essential if you plan to also sometimes use an air conditioner in the house. You don’t want to let out the cool air you’re paying to generate. For that matter, you don’t want winter heating to escape either.
Potential Problems with Whole House Fans
It’s important to keep safety in mind. Whole house fans should never be operated when windows are closed. This can cause a backdraft into a furnace or other gas-powered appliance and pull carbon monoxide and other combustion gases into your living areas. A fan that’s too large can cause that problem too.
Fans that are too large can also create an unpleasant feeling of suction within a home, making occupants feel uneasy.
The other major complaint about whole house fans is the noise. This is especially true of fans that are improperly installed. Rubber or felt gaskets can reduce noise, and so can choosing an oversized fan but running it only at low speeds. Large fans running at low speeds make less noise than small fans running at high speeds.
When you consider all the positives and minus, whole house fans can be a great way to reduce air conditioning bills during moderate weather while making your home more comfortable than ever before.