In some climates, you can substitute an air conditioner with a whole-house fan to cool your home. For many families, combining whole-house fans with ceiling fans and other types of circulating fans can offer sufficient summer comfort.
Whole-house fans draw in air through open windows. Then they exhaust the air through your home’s attic and roof. A whole-house fan offers ideal attic ventilation along with whole-house cooling. It should provide your home with three to six air changes per hour.
You’ll want to speak with a professional to identify what’s right for your house. The air-change rate you decide on will be based on how much dependence you’ll have on your whole-house fan to cool your home and the climate you live in.
With frequent spikes in energy costs, operating an air conditioning unit night and day can be a costly proposition. This makes many families wonder if it’s in their best interest to install an energy-efficient alternative such as a whole-house fan to keep their energy bills reasonable while cooling their homes.
Benefits of Whole-House Fans
Whole-house fans provide you with substantial benefits. Below are six key benefits of running a whole-house fan in your home:
1. Fast Performance
The effectiveness of a whole-house fan shows when it’s able to cool a home 10 degrees the minute you turn it on and continue cooling your house up to 30 degrees. A whole-house fan can even keep your attic cool by up to 50 degrees.
2. Low Operating Costs
A whole-house fan can provide you with significant energy savings. In fact, it can cost you up to 90% less to operate a whole-house fan versus running your AC unit. This could mean a sizable reduction in your energy bill.
3. Quiet Operation
A whole-house fan can be noisy if you install it improperly. Therefore, it’s important that you hire a licensed professional to come and ensure the installation job is done correctly. When installed properly, most whole-house fans operate quietly, and all you hear is a slight hum when they’re running.
4. Reduces Your Need For AC
Since whole-house fans can significantly and quickly cool your entire home, this means your air conditioner won’t need to work that hard to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. Plus, your attic will stay cooler. In fact, you might not even need to operate your central AC unit except for very hot summer days.
5. Improves Air Quality
Whole-house fans provide targeted circulation, which helps keep the indoor air in your home from becoming stagnant. Your house will smell fresher since it removes odors linked with pets, cooking, and other culprits.
Whole-house fans help:
- Prevent accumulation of pollution and harmful gases
- Ensure proper ventilation
- Protect your health (and your loved ones)
Factors to Consider Before Using a Whole-House Fan to Cool your Home
How efficiently a whole-house fan cools your home will depend on various factors, including:
Whole-house fans work best when you use them in dry, cool locales. Since they draw the outdoor fresh air into your home but don’t dehumidify it, it’s best you use them in climates where the humidity levels are fairly low already. Generally, this corresponds to regions away from the coast and desert areas.
For example, whole-house fans wouldn’t be advisable in climates where the humidity level is high, such as Pensacola, FL where there’s a 72.5% average humidity level. In an appropriately dry area, like here in San Marcos, CA, whole-house fans can replace warm, uncomfortable indoor air quickly with refreshing and cool outdoor air once the temperature outdoors cools off.
You’ll typically need to increase attic ventilation in order to exhaust the air the fan provides outdoors. You’ll require two to four times the normal attic vent area, or around a square foot of net free area for each 750 cubic ft. per minute of fan capacity. A vent’s net-free area will take into account the resistance provided by its insect screens and louvers. It’s better to have more vent area for maximum performance of your whole-house fan.
If there’s no tight-sealing winter cover for your fan, you should either build one or buy one. As summer approaches, if you are switching between your AC unit and whole-house fan to cool your home, you’ll want to build a tightly sealed, hinged door. This will cover the fan opening. It should be simple to open and close when you switch between the cooling methods.
When operating your whole-house fan, you’ll want to be cautious. Open windows throughout your home to prevent a concentrated and powerful suction in one area. If you don’t provide enough ventilation, the whole-house fan can lead to a backdraft in your water heater, furnace, or gas-powered dryer. This can pull carbon monoxide and other combustion products into your living space.
3. Hire a Professional
Even if you think you’re able to successfully install your new whole-house fan by yourself, it’s not a good idea to attempt it. Whole-house fan installation can be tricky, and it’s always best to seek the help of a qualified professional who can:
- Take measurements of your attic
- Install dedicated circuit wiring
- Install new attic vents (if necessary)
- Check the safety of the new system
4. Optimize Timing of Use
Operate your fan for a minimum of 10 minutes first thing in the morning for the best results. This will allow the cool outdoor breeze to run into your attic and through your home. It will expel the prior night’s hot stale air. Close the doors, blinds, and windows on your home’s sunny side. Experiment with the home openings and your fan to maximize both the performance of your fan and your comfort.
Don’t operate your fan during the day if the outdoor air is warmer than the air in your home. You can, however, operate your fan in the daytime to push the indoor air out of your attic. You’ll want to direct the airflow from either the shady side of your house or the basement.
The longer you operate the fan into the evening, the better cooling outcome you’ll receive the next day. Keep in mind that operating your whole-house fan too long could cause you to get too cold. You can configure this with the fan timer. You can also use your fan on mild winter days to help:
- Bring in clean, fresh air
- Eliminate moisture accumulation in your attic
- Expel indoor air pollutants
- Prevent stagnant air flow
5. Whole-House Fan Maintenance
Whole-house fans have sealed bearings and shouldn’t require too much maintenance aside from cleaning out your ceiling shutter occasionally from dust. However, preventative maintenance by a professional specialist can help decrease the chances of your fan requiring service in the high season.
6. Hire the Professionals
The North San Diego County area can become hot, but you can stay cool and confident in your cooling systems with Oak Island Heating and Air Conditioning. Installation of a whole-house fan will require the expertise and knowledge of a professional home heating and air conditioning professional in North San Diego County.
If you need more help than just with a whole-house fan, we also offer furnace and heat pump installation, maintenance, and repairs, as well as all the same services for air conditioners. We can also manage your indoor air quality and your humidifier/dehumidifier needs.
Contact Oak Island Heating and Air Conditioning today for more information!