Attic fans, or whole-house fans, are an important tool in your home cooling toolbox. These large fans, installed in your attic, suck in air from windows and exhaust it out of the top of your home. Whether you are looking to lower your energy bills or rely less on your central AC system, whole-house fans can be the right solution for your home.
Just how much energy can a whole-house fan save? The folks at Green Building Advisor explain: “A whole-house fan usually draws between 200 and 700 watts — about 10% to 15% of the power drawn by a central air conditioner (2,000 to 5,000 watts).” That’s no small savings! Whether you’re trying to cut your energy bill or aiming for a greener lifestyle, a whole-house fan can help you meet your goal.
In addition to the energy savings, and perhaps more importantly for most homeowners, attic fans are very effective at cooling down your home. While, alone, they take longer to cool your home than central AC might, the US Department of Energy notes that “Whole house cooling using a whole house fan can substitute for an air conditioner most of the year in most climates. Whole house fans combined with ceiling fans and other circulating fans provide acceptable summer comfort for many families, even in hot weather.”
There are some things to keep in mind before choosing to have a whole-house fan installed. Firstly, geography. Your fan should only be turned on when temperatures dip below 80 degrees. In some parts of the country, the temperatures remain at or above 80 degrees, even overnight. And while a whole-house fan can be an excellent alternative to central AC in parts of the country (or during seasons of the year) that experience cooler nights, there are some factors to consider. Green Building Advisor notes that whole-house fans “don’t make sense for homes in neighborhoods where security concerns prevent homeowners from leaving their windows open.” Without open windows, your whole-house fan cannot function properly.
A final consideration is installation. Because whole-house fans have specific building requirements and constitute a big old hole in the top of your house, professional installation is a must to ensure that your fan runs quietly and efficiently, and that it is sealed properly to protect your home in the winter months.