When you're living in a hot climate where summer arrives while the rest of the country is enjoying spring, the costs of air conditioning can add up quickly over the course of a year. Searching for a way to cut down your air conditioning costs, even by just a small percentage per month, can result in the savings of hundreds of dollars per year if you're running your air conditioner for six to nine months a year. Installing a properly sized whole house fan may help you reduce your air conditioning bills a little, but only if you live in an area with the right climate.
Reducing Your Nighttime Cooling
The primary use of a whole house fan, which is installed in the ceiling and forces hot air out through your attic's vents, is to cool your home at the end of a hot day. Even after running your air conditioning all day, the accumulated heat from direct sun exposure and high outdoor temperatures can result in an uncomfortably warm house by the evening. Running the whole house fan is designed to exhaust that accumulated heat so that turning your air conditioner back on gives you a greater noticeable cooling effect. Some people find that their homes are comfortable enough that they can eliminate running the A/C for hours or even the entire night.
Considering Your Local Climate
Since the whole house fan forces the hot air out of your attic, it also sucks in fresh air from outside of the first floor of the home. This means that in order to cool off your home by running the whole house fan, you need cool air outside the home in the evening. Dry air around or below 65 degrees F is ideal. Climates in which nighttime temperatures remain high, humidity levels are high in the evening, or in which it takes until the late night for temperatures to drop all make whole house fans a poor choice. Sucking in humid or hot air will do nothing to cool the home off or reduce your need to run your air conditioner. If you can't reduce the need to run the air conditioner, you can't save money on your monthly electricity bills.
Comparing Whole House vs Attic Fans
Whole house fans are occasionally known as attic fans, but this term is confusing because it's also used to describe fans mounted in the attic itself. Those attic fans only vent the attic space, and they're not as effective as whole house fans for cooling the house and reducing your air conditioning costs. Make sure you're getting a whole house fan and not just a basic attic fan, also called a powered attic ventilator, to get the best results after spending money to install a new fan.
Opening the Windows
Of course, you'll have to open the windows and potentially the doors of your first floor to let in enough cool air to make a difference when running a whole house fan. You must feel comfortable having just screens covering your entryways for an hour or more so there's time for the air to circulate throughout the entire structure. If you have security concerns about having your home open for an extended time every summer evening, a whole house fan will do little to lower your air conditioning bills.
Checking the Vents
Finally, you'll need working and unobstructed vents in the attic in order to have the hot air exit rapidly when you switch on the whole house fan. Have a roofing or HVAC professional inspect those vents for blockages from insulation, dust, or pests before the fan is installed or you could end up just paying for the electricity to move the hot air around inside the attic.
Contact a company like A-1Finchum Heating to learn more.