Trying to find ways to cool your home without relying so much on an air conditioner can be a challenge. While there are lots of ways to help keep cool air inside your home, such as checking the weatherstripping and seals around your doors and vinyl replacement windows, sometimes you need a little more help. Planting trees in your yard is another great way to naturally cool your home, but it can take years for trees to fully mature and provide the most benefits. If you don’t already have an air conditioner or just want to use it less often, an option you may want to consider is an attic fan.
Types of Attic Fans
There are two main types of attic fans: whole-house fans and powered attic ventilators. If you’re considering an attic fan for your home, the type you’ll want to look for is a whole-house fan. Whole-house fans work by drawing cooler air from outside and pushing hot air out through vents in the attic. You can open the windows and let it run it at night to let cool air in, then turn it off and close your windows in the morning to enjoy a cooler house throughout the day. Unlike ordinary ceiling fans, which don’t actually lower a room’s temperature but make you feel more comfortable by improving air circulation, whole-house fans actually do work to lower the temperature in your home.
Powered attic ventilators, on the other hand, are generally considered a waste of money. Unless the floor in your attic just happens to be perfectly sealed and airtight, which very few are, a powered attic ventilator will draw cool air from your air conditioner into your attic, so you’re basically using more electricity for the sake of air conditioning your attic, which hasn’t been proven to be an effective way to make the rest of your home feel cooler. Meanwhile, warmer air will be drawn in from the outside through cracks and gaps elsewhere in your home, which will put more strain on your air conditioner and use more energy. Even if you don’t have an air conditioner, powered attic ventilators can cause moisture-related problems by drawing humid air into your home.
Benefits of a Whole-House Fan
Whole-house fans use much less electricity than a central air conditioner, so using one can help keep your home cool while keeping your electrical bills down at the same time. Not only can whole-house fans help save you money, they work to cool your home very quickly. They can lower the temperature in lower levels of a home by as much as 10 degrees sometimes in an hour or less.
Who Can Benefit from Whole-House Fans?
Whole-house attic fans are best for homes in areas that typically get cool at night or don’t already
have air conditioning. While attic fans can be very helpful in many homes, they’re not necessarily a good solution for everyone. Since you need to have windows open while you run a whole-house fan, they’re best for homes in areas that don’t get exceptionally humid. When you live in a very humid area, opening the window to run the attic fan will have the opposite of its intended effect and make your home feel warmer.
The fact that your windows have to be open to run a whole-house fan also means they’re not recommended for homes in neighborhoods with a high crime rate. You certainly don’t want to put your own personal safety and the safety of your family on the line for the sake of keeping your home cool.
If you suffer from allergies or live in an area that has high levels of pollution or dust in the air, an attic fan might not be right for you. As the attic fan works, it may bring allergens and other undesirable, airborne matter into your home. Depending on the type of allergies you have, you may not be able to run a whole-house fan at certain times of the year.
If you decide to get a whole-house fan, remember it’s extremely important to remember to open as many windows as possible when you run it. These fans, as well as powered attic ventilators, can depressurize a home and cause things like gas-powered water heaters and furnaces to backdraft and cause carbon monoxide to build up in the home. Having the windows open helps reduce that risk.