A whole house fan is installed either in your attic or roof. While in use it will pull air in from open windows throughout the house and expel air at the fan location. What does that do for your home? By drawing in cool air and improving circulation, and expelling warm air, your home stays comfortable without relying on air conditioning.
Curious about whether a whole house fan would work for your home? Here’s what you should know about whole house fans and how they differ from traditional attic fans.
How Does a Whole House Fan Work?
A whole house fan works by creating negative pressure in the home. When you open windows, the fan will pull air in. The fresh outdoor air is drawn in, building pressure in the home, which rises to the attic.
Once the air pressure in the attic reaches a certain point, it is expelled from the home through vents, soffits, and other openings in the attic. As the pressure is eased, more air can be drawn into the home. The process keeps air flowing through the home, creating cool, comfortable temperatures.
Airflow can be controlled somewhat with a whole house fan. While a whole house fan will circulate air throughout the home, airflow will be greatest in rooms where the windows are open. This allows you to prioritize areas that may normally feel stuffy, or, by closing a door and leaving the windows shut, allow you to keep one area of the home warmer than others.
What are the Benefits of a Whole House Fan?
For many people, the feel of fresh, circulating air in the home is enough of a benefit to consider a whole house fan. As homes have become more energy-efficient, they have also become more airtight. The result can be room air that feels stale and sluggish. Odors may seem to hang around. You may particularly notice this after being away from home for a few hours. When you open the door, you may notice a vague, not-fresh smell that isn’t overwhelming but isn’t necessarily pleasant either.
Another benefit of a whole house fan is that you don’t need to wait long for results. While a central air system can take several hours to bring the temperature down in your home, you will feel the benefits of a whole house fan within minutes. The more windows you open, the more quickly the fan will work.
Whole house fans are also extremely economical. They are not only inexpensive to run, but they are also inexpensive to install. The installation cost of a whole house fan will be a fraction of the cost of a central air conditioning unit. Once the fan is installed, you can count on your utility costs to drop by at least 50 percent. For many people, the savings can be as much as 90 percent.
Unlike installing a central air system, the installation process of a whole house fan is quick and easy. Professional installation generally takes around two hours. The design of a whole house fan is meant for ease of installation around attic joists and roof trusses, so the on-site installation process is straightforward.
Another benefit of a whole house fan is the way it makes your home feel. The removal of stale indoor air allows odors to escape along with hot air. The feeling of fresh, clean air will make your entire home feel more comfortable.
Using a whole-house fan cuts down on the need for air conditioning. As long as the air outside is cooler than the air inside, your home can be efficiently cooled with the whole house fan. Even during the heat of summer, running the fan overnight and in the early morning hours will keep the home cool and feeling fresh. When you need to switch the air on, you have the benefit of starting with already cool and comfortable air temperatures.
Even the lightest sleepers will appreciate the benefits of a whole house fan. In the past, fans meant to cool the home by removing hot air through the attic could be noisy and inefficient. The whole house fans available today are quiet and allow for a peaceful night’s sleep.
What’s the Difference Between a Whole House Fan and an Attic Fan
There is a lot of confusion between whole house fans and attic fans. While they may seem similar, they work in different ways. Understanding the difference allows you to make the choice that will keep your home cool and comfortable.
Whole house fans are used when the air outside is cooler than the air inside. During the hottest months, this means you may turn the fan on once the sun goes down, run it overnight, and turn it off later in the morning.
The fan itself is mounted between the home’s living space and the attic. It will pull warm, stale air out of the home and force it out of the roof’s vents. It cools the home by removing heat that builds up inside and improving airflow.
An attic fan is used during the hottest part of the day. If you have ever been in your home’s attic, you know that it stays much warmer than the rest of the house. The fan is mounted between the attic space and the outdoors. It actively removes the hot air that rises to the attic. This keeps the home more comfortable by lowering the ambient temperature of the home and reducing the amount of heat that radiates back into the living areas.
As you can see, the attic fan does a good job of removing heat trapped in the attic but is less effective than a whole house fan at cooling the entire home. A whole house actively cools the home while also dispersing hot air that builds up in the attic. For most homes, a whole house fan is the right choice for energy-efficient cooling. In hotter climates, adding an attic fan, in addition to a whole-house fan, could be a better choice than either option on its own.
Next Steps to a More Comfortable Home
Once you are ready to take the next step in home comfort, there are a few things to keep in mind. You will want to install a whole house fan that is sized appropriately for your home. An undersized unit will not provide the airflow you want, while an oversized unit will not necessarily improve performance. Working with an expert to determine the best whole house fan for your situation ensures you are happy with the final results.
When determining the size of fan needed to keep your home comfortable, the installation professional will include the square footage of your entire home, including the basement, garage, and attic. The installation professional will also inspect the attic area before helping you select whole house fan options, as your attic must have a minimum amount of space to provide adequate ventilation.
Once you know what size whole house fan your home needs, you may still have some choices to make. Some people prefer to feel a direct breeze through their home, while others just want cooler air without a noticeable airflow. Let your installation pro know your preferences before the installation process.
Another choice is the type of fan you want to install. Belt-driven fans have a separate blade assembly and are quieter than direct-drive models, where the blade is attached directly to the motor shaft.
Sound isn’t the only difference between the two types of construction. Belt-driven fans often cost less initially but have a slightly higher cost to operate and may require more maintenance.
Direct-drive fans are more efficient, which means they lose less energy during operation. This makes them less expensive to operate. They also require less maintenance due to less friction on the fan during operation. The drawbacks are a higher initial cost and the fact that they are noisier during operation.
Talking with a cooling professional about the pros and cons of different types of whole house fans, what you can expect during and after the installation process, and how quickly the cost savings will add up can help you make an informed decision about the best way to cool your home.
More questions about how a whole house fan works? Whether you want to discuss the options in more detail, get additional information about the cooling benefits of a whole house fan, or are ready to start the installation process, get in touch with us as Kaiser Air Conditioning and Heating today. We are happy to answer any questions and help you determine if your home would benefit from a whole house fan to improve comfort and lower your energy bills.