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Why Your Home Might Need a Whole-House FanJanuary 6th, 2020 by
When the weather gets warm, chances are your house gets even warmer. Proper house ventilation is essential for keeping your family cool during the summer months, but continuously using the air conditioning can be a financial drain on your utility bills. Some families are turning to whole house fans as an alternative. Is this solution right for you?
What Is a Whole House Fan?
A whole house fan is a venting technique to help cool a home without the cost of air conditioning. Typically built into the home’s attic, these fans pull hot air out of a home or building and force it into the attic or an opening in the roof. The creation of a pressure differential also pulls in air through open windows, which helps to bring in cool air while removing the heat.
These fans were a popular cooling method before central air and are recently becoming popular again as energy costs rise. There are four types of whole house fans:
- Ceiling-mounted. Technicians place these models in the ceiling that separates the attic from the home’s living space.
- Ducted. Ducted fans are set away from the ceiling, such as in the rafters, and remove heat from several locations.
- Rooftop-mounted. In homes with no attic, whole house fans are mounted on the roof.
- Window-mounted. Positioned in a window frame, these fans can also bring in the cool air from outside.
Advantages of a Whole House Fan
There are several reasons to put a whole house fan into your home. Some homes have HVAC problems that make creating a central air system impossible or ineffective. If you don’t have air conditioning, a whole house fan can help to cool your home more efficiently than if you were to place box fans around the house.
Even if you do have central air, using the fan only on days that aren’t too hot can save on energy costs. Additionally, running the fan for a while before turning on the air conditioning on the hottest days draws out some of the hot air and make it easier to cool your home faster.
Finally, circulating stale air out of your home and bringing “new” air in can help to reduce airborne hazards, such as carbon monoxide, pet odors, or radon.
Do Whole House Fans Work?
Whether a whole house fan will work in your home greatly depends on your house and the type of climate you live in.
These fans work best in areas where the nighttime temperatures are lower than the temperature you want it to be inside. If you prefer your indoors to be 70 degrees but it never gets below 75 degrees outside at night, a whole house fan won’t be efficient enough to meet your needs.
In addition, if you live in an area that is very humid or has a lot of pollen in the air, a fan will bring these problems indoors, which can have a negative impact on people who have allergies, asthma, or other respiratory issues.
There are also possible disadvantages that are unrelated to health or energy costs but may still matter to you.
First, whole house fans make at least some noise, and some models are very loud. Noise-sensitive people sometimes can’t handle the humming sound while the fan is on.
Additionally, there may be style issues. Fans that are installed in the ceiling or in a window sometimes clash with the home or its decor aesthetics.
How To Choose the Right Whole House Fan for Your Home
Installing a whole house fan requires a reputable HVAC technician. This professional can help you choose the best model to fit your home based on its size and the type of climate you live in. These are a couple of the factors technicians use to determine the right type of fan:
- Size. While large fans move air quickly, they are also harder to install, may not look as good, are louder, and cost more.
- Attic Ventilation. If there isn’t enough ventilation, the hot air the fan grabs may just make its way back down to you. The amount of ventilation helps to determine the size of the fan you can support.
3 Types of Whole House Fans
There are three basic types of whole house fans, each one with its own advantages and disadvantages. They also vary in size and price point. Below is a breakdown to help you determine which one you might need for your home.
1. Inline Fan
Also called duct fans, inline fans move about 1,500 cubic feet per minute (cfm) in airflow and cost about $235. They don’t move as much air but are a good choice for people who can’t afford to put larger fans in the attic. Placing a duct fan in each bedroom is a common method of bringing in cooler air and is easier to install.
2. Insulated Door Fan
Ranging from $525 to $769, insulated door fans move as much as 1,700 cfm. This type of fan is important if you live in an area that sees a lot of cold snaps, as the insulated door keeps your warm air inside when you need it. The R-22 or R-38 insulated panels open when you turn the fans on. These fans are quieter than standard ones but don’t move as much air, making them a common middle-of-the-road option. Insulated door fans often go in hallways, although some are designed to fit around joists for easier installation.
3. Standard Fan
A standard whole house fan moves between 4,500 and 6,900 cfm for a price ranging from $200 to $450. They are the most widely available option, the most affordable, and therefore, the most common choice. Standard fans do tend to be more difficult to install and often require moving a joist or adding extra venting to the attic. It is also important to keep in mind that these fans act like an open window during winter months, so you’ll need to create an insulated box to cover it during cold spells.
After you purchase a whole house fan, it is important to have a reputable technician install it for you. If you try to do it yourself, you risk making mistakes that are not only more costly but could cause trouble for your home or your family.
A professional HVAC company has the tools, knowledge, and experience to install your fan correctly the first time. Look for a business that is licensed and insured and has excellent online reviews. Be sure to compare prices of several experts before signing a contract, especially if you want to get the most for your money. Find an HVAC technician today!