If you’re looking for ways to lower your energy bills this summer, installing a whole-house fan can be a great investment. Whole-house fans are a great alternative to running your air conditioning and can be an extremely effective option for keeping your home cool whenever the temperature outside isn’t too hot. To help you understand why, here is everything you need to know about how whole-house fans work and how much money this type of fan could save you this summer.
Understanding How Whole-House Fans Work
Whole-house fans are always installed in the attic and have a large air duct that connects to a vent in the ceiling. This vent should be centrally located in the building and is often placed in a main hallway or the stairwell leading to the top floor. These fans work by drawing hot air out of the living spaces and venting it into the attic where it then flows back outside through the attic vents. At the same time, the fan pulls fresh, cooler air in through open windows to create a nice breeze.
Whole-house fans are extremely effective as many of them can move around 6,500 cubic feet of air per minute. Let’s say that you have a 2,000-square-foot home with standard 9-foot ceilings. The total air volume of this size of home is 18,000 cubic feet. In this case, a whole-house fan could pull all of the hot, stale air out of the building in under three minutes. As long as the air outside is cooler than the air inside the home, the fan should cool your home to whatever the outdoor temperature is in under an hour.
The only real issue with whole-house fans is that they only work when you have at least a few windows slightly open. This means that you won’t be able to use the fan during the hottest parts of the year or on overly humid days as otherwise all it would do is pull lots of hot, moist air inside. That being said, a whole-house fan is perfect for milder weather and can make it so that you never need to use your AC during the spring or fall.
There will also be many days even during the hotter months when the temperature is cool enough in the evenings and mornings for the fan to work effectively. Any time that the temperature outside is around the same or lower than what you normally have your thermostat set to, you can shut off your AC and turn on the whole-house fan to both cool your home more effectively and greatly reduce your energy costs.
Whole-house fans are most effective when you only have a few windows cracked a few inches open. If you open too many windows or have them open too far, the fan won’t work as well as it won’t be able to create the pressure needed to draw hot air up into the attic effectively. It is also essential that your attic has adequate ventilation to ensure that all of the hot air can easily be vented back outside. The best way to use a whole-house fan is to cool certain rooms or areas at a time. For instance, you may want to start by opening the windows in your living room and kitchen in the evening and then closing these windows and opening the ones in your bedrooms before going to bed.
If no windows are open, the fan will have almost no effect since it won’t be able to draw cool air in from outside. Having at least a few windows open when the fan is running is also important for safety reasons. If no windows are open, the fan will start to draw air in through other sources such as a chimney or exhaust flue. If your home has any gas-burning appliances like a gas water heater, the fan could easily start to pull or “backdraft” carbon monoxide and other combustion fumes back into the home. The only way to ensure that this doesn’t happen is to only ever run the fan with a few windows open. If your home has a fireplace, it is also important to close the louver on your chimney before turning the fan on, or else it will draw soot and ash inside.
Whole-House Fan Energy Savings
Calculating exactly how much money you can save by using a whole-house fan can be somewhat difficult. The energy savings depends in large part on how many hours per day or how many months you have the fan running instead of using your AC. The size of your AC unit also plays a role since the larger the unit is, the more energy it will use.
On average, a whole-house fan uses around 90% less energy than a central air conditioner or heat pump. If you were to typically run the fan instead of your air conditioning for 12 hours per day, say from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., you could potentially cut your energy costs almost in half. Of course, there may be many days from June until at least August when it’s still too hot and humid in the evening to use the fan and you’ll need to keep your AC on instead.
Nonetheless, studies have shown that a whole-house fan will still typically save you a few hundred dollars a year compared to having to constantly rely on your AC system to keep your home cool. This is especially the case if you rely solely on the fan during the spring and fall when the temperatures are cooler, but your home can still get quite hot without some sort of cooling.
How a Whole-House Fan Can Improve Indoor Air Quality
Another major benefit of installing a whole-house fan is that it can greatly improve your home’s indoor air quality. Indoor air pollution is often a major problem in the summer since most homes have all of the windows closed and the AC running constantly, and this can quickly lead to the air becoming stale and the concentration of VOCs and other pollutants greatly increasing.
Unless your home has some type of mechanical ventilation system, you really have no way to draw all of the stale, polluted air outside. Running the exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom can help, but exhaust fans still aren’t all that effective since they can’t bring fresh, clean air inside. This is the reason that whole-house fans are such a great choice for improving indoor air quality since they will both pull the stale, polluted air out of the building and constantly replace it with fresh air from outside. Again, when used correctly, the fan will be able to fully replenish all of the air in your home in just a few minutes so that you can breathe more easily. A whole-house fan can also keep your home smelling fresh since it will constantly pull the musty, bad-smelling air outside as it runs.
Expert HVAC and Indoor Air Quality Services
At Blue Ribbon Cooling & Heating, we are proud to be the most-trusted HVAC contractor in the Bastrop, Round Rock, and Austin areas. Whether you’re looking to have a whole-house fan or whole-home air purification system installed or you need any cooling or heating services, our team is always ready to help. Give us a call today if you have any questions or to schedule any cooling, heating, or indoor air quality service.