Last month, I had to replace my central air conditioning as its part had just broken. Meanwhile, I decided to put in a whole house fan in some of the rooms on the first floor instead of running the central air unit.
Now, I think the whole house fan is the way to go — but choosing between whole-house fans and attic fans is often a difficult decision for homeowners.
Are you probably thinking, why should I even get a whole house fan? I’ve found some pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.
What is a Whole House Fan?
A whole house fan sucks cool air into the house through open windows and pushes warm air out through the attic and roof. Typically, the fan is installed on the attic floor near the center of your house. Its job is to pull fresh outdoor air in through open windows and exhaust it through your attic and roof.
How Does a Whole House Fan Work
A whole house fan brings in cooler outdoor air through open windows. It then exhausts warm air through the attic via venting or a ridge vent. This “stack effect” is a cooling technique employed since ancient times.
Whole house fans work efficiently at various speeds — low speed for mild days and higher speeds when temperatures soar. They can cool a home by 10 degrees in minutes at high speeds. Because they pull cooler night air into your home, they are meant to be used at night or when you are away during the day.
Is a Whole House Fan a Good Idea?
Summertime is in full swing. That means it’s hot outside, and you’re probably starting to feel the effects of the heat inside your home. After all, when the temperature outside is 95 degrees, it’s hard to keep it cool inside your home.
If you’ve been thinking about a whole house fan as an energy-efficient way to beat the heat this summer, you’re not alone. More homeowners are discovering that a whole house fan can quickly cool down their homes in the summer months, saving them money and providing a more comfortable environment for their family.
Most importantly, a whole house fan is an environmentally friendly way to cool your home–it doesn’t use any power or refrigerants like an AC.
When Should you Use a Whole House Fan?
A whole house fan is the best consideration when the climate is dry. If you live in the desert Southwest, for example, where summer monsoon weather patterns can create dust storms, you want your fan to be able to suck that particulate matter out of your house — and keep it out. You need a whole house fan that can move lots of air in this case.
Also, a whole house fan that doesn’t exchange all of your indoor air is necessary if you live in a humid climate. That’s if you’re comfortable with a bit of humidity in the air — even in the summer. In this case, a centrifugal system is better than an axial one.
Additionally, a whole house fan works well when outside temperatures start to drop off and before the sun heats your home. But if you need daytime cooling — say, because you work from home and find it hard to concentrate when it’s hot – a secondary system like central air conditioning can work.
Whole House Fan Pros And Cons
Whole house fans are becoming a popular alternative to air conditioning. Here are several reasons why you may want to consider getting one.
Pros of Whole House Fans
They are Cheaper!
First, a whole house fan is cheaper than installing a central air conditioning system in your home. As mentioned above, not only do you have to pay for the installation of a new AC unit, but you also have to worry about paying for its upkeep and repair costs throughout the years.
According to some estimates, the average whole house fan costs about half as much as an equivalent AC unit, including purchase and installation fees.
Fans are by nature quiet and soothing, much like the sound of soft rain or ocean waves. Air conditioners sound like roaring vehicles, and even window fans tend to whir loudly. The sound of a whole house fan is just plain pleasant.
Better for your Health
The constant intake of cool outside air flushes out your home with clean oxygenated air. This cleans out dust, pet dander, and other allergens that may be floating around in your home. Also, it prevents mold in areas of your home that may be susceptible to moisture (such as bathrooms, basements, and attics).
Whole house fans are good for the environment because they use much less electricity than AC units. They save you money on your electric bill and conserve energy overall.
This is especially true compared to traditional AC units, which use refrigerants such as CFCs or HCFCs. These chemicals are toxic and harmful if they leak out into the atmosphere. In addition, whole-house fans do not release any pollutants into the atmosphere while they
Installing a whole-house fan is relatively easy, especially if your attic already has vents in place. You put the unit in the center of your attic and cut a hole in your ceiling — it’s easier than installing many window air conditioners since it doesn’t require drilling holes in your walls.
In addition, you don’t need ducts for the whole house fan. All you have to do is install one large vent near your roof and another smaller vent near your floor level, then turn on the power switch when you want some fresh air in your home!
Improves Indoor Air Quality
A whole house fan draws air into your home. This brings cleaner outdoor air into your home and expels stale indoor air through your attic. This can result in cleaner air and less dust inside your home.
With the fresh air inside, you eliminate odors and pollutants built up inside your home. By replacing stale air with clean outdoor air, you avoid the slap of diseases associated with impure breathing easier!
A whole house fan doesn’t take up much space. Therefore, no concerns about it blocking out light or being an eyesore in your home. They are the better choice if the appearance of your house matters a lot.
Cons of Whole House Fans
Whole house fans pull air through windows and vents in the attic or outside walls, creating wind noise. The noise can be especially loud when windows are opened, and the constant sound of wind blowing through the room can disturb some people.
However, you can mitigate noise issues somewhat by sealing window and door frames and using high-quality insulation on walls and ceilings.
Running a whole house fan requires opening windows, leaving an opportunity for small children and pets to fall out of windows while they are open.
In addition, screens may come loose and blow off during the operation of the whole house fan, leaving screens lying outside and open windows exposed to intruders or flying insects.
Another complaint is air quality since these fans pull air in from outside through windows throughout the home and then exhaust it through the attic and roof vents.
People often worry that they will bring pollen and dust into your home. Also, there is a risk of critters living in their attics, like birds or snakes, that may get sucked up through the fan.
Require Attic Space
Another common complaint about whole-house fans is that they require attic space to be installed. There is no way around this issue – if your home does not have an attic, you cannot install a whole house fan.
Limited Control Options
This is another legitimate complaint – most whole-house fans only have one or two settings (high and low).
Other types of ventilation systems may have multiple control settings.
Whole house fans are not as efficient at cooling as central air conditioners. They do not cool the air below the ambient outside temperature. Central air conditioners can cool the indoor temperature below the outside temperature.
The energy consumption by an air conditioner is mostly used to cool (remove heat from) the indoor air. The energy consumed by a whole house fan is spent in moving (circulating) the indoor air with a less actual cooling effect.
Poor Comfort Levels
A misconception about whole-house fans is that they cool your entire home down! Instead, they provide ventilation by circulating air through open windows and doors.
Also, while a whole-house fan cools your home, it doesn’t necessarily make it feel comfortable. It uses cool night air as its cooling source, but if your area is humid or you have lots of trees nearby, you’ll be distributing warm, stale air throughout your home. In that case, a whole house fan might be less effective than other cooling options.
Incomplete Air Exchange
Whole house fans’ ability to replace the air in your home depends on the number and size of your windows and doors. Additionally, how open they affect the air exchange process.
If there’s not enough fresh air coming in from outside, using a whole-house fan can recirculate hot air indefinitely instead of ventilating your home properly. This might make life uncomfortable for you and your family.
Whole House Fan vs. Attic Fan
There are some key differences between whole-house fans and attic fans.
The biggest difference lies in what they do, where they’re located, and how they work. For example, a whole house fan draws air out of a house while an attic fan is designed to exhaust hot air from an attic space.
Whole house fans mount on the ceiling. They can effectively ventilate your home with fresh outdoor air by pulling stale indoor air through open windows and exhausting it through the attic and roof.
On the other hand, Attic fans pull hot air from the attic space only. They don’t provide ventilation for any other part of the home.
Whole House Fan Pros And Cons FAQs
Do Whole House Fans Work in Humid Climates?
Whole-house fans are a great way to cool your home, but they don’t work well in humid climates. Whole-house fans can cool down a house on a hot day, but they won’t dehumidify the air. If you have a whole-house fan and it’s humid, you’ve probably noticed how sticky it feels.
How Long Should I Run a Whole House Fan?
The answer depends on humidity and the size of your home. Start by running the fan for about 30 minutes after sunset to cool the house and reduce humidity. Then continue to run it based on the number of air changes you need to achieve.
Can a Whole House Fan Cause Mold?
A whole house fan may cause mold if you do not remove the humid air from home. The whole house fan is designed to draw cool air into the home (from open windows), up and out through the attic, and then vent it out through a gable or ridge vent (which can either be a passive or passive or power vent).
In short, whether you go for a traditional whole house fan or an attic fan is a personal choice. The main point is that you have the option to save you money. Additionally, it reduces your home’s energy consumption while remaining comfortable at the same time.