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Beat the Summer Heat and Conserve Energy with a Whole House Fan

May 19, 2009

I grew up in a house with a whole house fan, and no air-conditioning.  The fan was great when thesleeping baby temperature went down into the 60’s at night, it pulled cool air throughout the entire house and cooled it down quite nicely.  It even helped after those scorching hot days when the temperature only dropped to the mid 80’s at night, it kept a gentle breeze flowing throughout the house all night.  I’m sure it saved my parents hundreds of dollars even back then, and installing one in your house can save you up to 50% on your cooling bills every year or up to 90% if you eliminate conventional air conditioners all together. 

One of the great benefits of whole house fans is that they will cool your house to a lower temperature than an air conditioner will when the temperature outside at night drops lower than the temperature sleeping boythat your air conditioner is set to.  Thus, not only will it suck the hot air out of your house, but it will also suck some of the heat absorbed in the walls, floors and ceilings out of your house out too.  Then in the morning, when the temperature is the lowest, close all of the windows in order to keep the heat of the day out.  In this way you will start the day with a nice cool house that can absorb a fair amount of heat as the temperature climbs outside before the interior starts to become uncomfortable.  The more thermal mass such as masonry or plaster walls, concrete, hardwood and/or tile floors that a house has, the more heat it can absorb during the day and be exhausted by the fan at night.

The two possible downsides to a whole house fan are the noise of the fan and tsleeping girlhe introduction of allergens into the house.  The fan we had growing up provided a constant hum that just became a nice background noise and actually helped to put me to sleep.  Many of the fans available today are quieter than those made in the past, and many of them have a low speed setting so that they operate even more quietly.  With respect to allergens, if someone in the house has a problem with seasonal summertime allergies then you probably shouldn’t consider a whole house fan.

Two precautions that you should take are to and to seal all of the holes and cracks between the house and the attic and to make sure that you have adequate ventilation form your attic to the outside.  There should be about one square foot of clear vent space to the outside from the attic for every 750 cfm of fan volume.  If these precautions are not taken the fan will push hot dusty air right back in to your house.

Conserve energy and enjoy natural cool night breezes this summer.  Turn off your air conditioner, and save hundreds of dollars by cooling your house with a whole house fan.


Dan Bossenbroek

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