Are whole house fans worth the money?

whole house fan

With the temperature rising due to climate change, is installing a ducted whole house fan worth the money to save on AC cost? How does the whole house fan work and will it reduce my AC cost? I did some research and this is what I found.  

A correctly installed and maintained Whole House fan system provides a very effective and natural house cooling solution to homeowners at a fraction of the cost of installing, running and maintaining an air conditioning system. The whole system functions on a simple premise, it draws cool and fresh air in through your windows and expels the hot stale air through a ventilation system in the roof. While they draw heat out of the structure, whole house fan systems create comfortable living environments while reducing your costly dependency on air conditioning.

For anyone living in a desert-like climates, the benefits of a whole house fan should be an absolute no-brainer. If installed and operated correctly this system can completely eliminate any need for air conditioning. Unfortunately, many people are completely unaware of the fact that whole house fans can play a useful role in most other areas of the US too. If you learn how to run the system in conjunction with your AC system, it can dramatically reduce your energy overheads. Whole house fans only use 10% of the energy an AC system does, they also keep the air in your home fresher instead of recycling already stale indoor air. Here are some of the key benefits of installing one of these as your house cooling system in greater detail.

1. Fast and efficient to operate

These systems operate by drawing hot air from inside the house out through vents into the attic and eventually outside the house completely through gable or ridge vents. The space left by the hot air is filled by cool air, from outside the structure. Whole house fans work much faster than air conditioning systems, you can begin to experience the cooling effects in a matter of minutes. The only drawback is that the whole house fans only work when the air outside is cooler than inside. This is why they are used in the evenings and nights.

2. Better for the environment

Whole house fan systems are much better for the environment than any other central air systems on the market. If you are looking for a more eco-friendly option, it is something you should certainly consider. See how this can increase the value of your home later in the article.

3. They will save you money

If you live in an area that is hot during the day but cooler in the evenings and at night, a whole house fan system costs somewhere between 10-20% less than an air conditioner costs, this could save you hundreds on your energy bills at the height of the summer.

4. Easy to Install

Installing a whole house fan is pretty uncomplicated and can even be a DIY job for some people with a little help from a friend. They are designed to accommodate attic joists and roof trusses making installation easier.

5. Set up costs are lower

Purchase and installation costs are much lower than air conditioning systems. In some cases, it could be as much as 90% cheaper than a central air-conditioning unit, without even factoring in the cost of installation or ductwork. If you live in an area that experiences extreme summer temperatures a whole house fan can replace a standard AC system entirely

6. Fresher air

Because of the way these systems are designed to function, drawing hot air out through your attic and releasing it from your home, this air is replaced by fresh air from outside. Running at full capacity can even help remove odors, by providing great ventilation throughout the home. As families are becoming increasingly health concious, they are very concerned with keeping the air in their homes free of allergens and fresh. Older more traditional AC units cause the air in your home to become stale, while a whole house fan can pull that stale air out of the house thought the ventilation system. They are particularly effective in tackling issues such as.

  • Dirt and
  • Pet dander and pet odor
  • Rot, mold, or
  • VOCs

A whole house fan system offers a great solution to people who suffer from allergies, removing stale air and replacing the air in the home up to 30 times per hour.

7. These systems are much quieter

The latest whole house fan models are extremely quiet, they no longer emit the loud and annoying sound that we traditionally associated with older fans. Even the lightest sleeper can sun the system all night and never be disturbed.

8. Reduced dependency on costly Air Conditioning

Whole house fans can effectively cool down a house. When they are installed correctly and used as they are designed to, these systems can completely remove your dependence on air conditioning. The fact that you should use your AC and your fan system together will help you understand just how efficient the systems are.

Research conducted in California showed that homeowners who install whole house fans reduced their dependency on their air conditioning systems by nearly 50%. The only time they were dependent on their air conditioning was on days of extreme heat. Outside of these occasions, the homeowners who took part in the survey stated that their whole house fans were particularly effective in increasing the circulation of clean, cool and fresh air throughout their homes. They were delighted that their need to use their energy-intensive air conditioning systems were reduced so dramatically.

9. Increases Your Resale Value

Further studies have shown that installing a whole house fan system in your home will make it more attractive to prospective buyers. As the US is becoming increasingly environmentally conscious, new homeowners are more attracted to houses with higher energy ratings. One study showed that energy-efficient homes attract up to 7% more than comparable properties in their areas. Comfortable living is another concern for house buyers, and whole house fans are quieter and cleaner too.

How to ensure your whole house fan system is operating to its full capacity and truly saving you money?

  • Always make sure you use the system when the air outside is cooler than inside.
  • Turn the AC off when you are running your fan, you will be blowing the cool air straight out of your home.
  • For your system to operate to its max, you should leave it on all night long. The goal is not to just cool the air inside. You want to cool the whole house. Your house has been getting hotter all day long. Ventilating it throughout the whole night will help reduce your need to use your air conditioner the next day.
  • Most systems have at least two-speed settings, set your system to the lowest speed overnight so it can run quietly and efficiently through the night.
  • Always either open a window or door when the system is running, you could create a negative pressure zone in the house and this could be dangerous and might cause back-drafting from gas appliances.

As with every system, there are drawbacks, but in all honesty, there is only one true negative to a whole house fan system. Your system depends completely on your home’s existing roof vents. Unless there is enough venting space, the hot air can build up in the attic and this can force dust and other particles back into the house through the light fixtures in the ceiling. You will need to ensure that you have one square foot of attic space for every 450 cfm. Remember that you will need to allow for double that space if your vents are obstructed by objects like insect screens. If you do not have enough, installing a few extra roof vents is not too expensive considering the savings you are making elsewhere. This should not be a problem in a new construction and the architect and engineers should be making these allowance knowing you intend to install a whole house fan.

The positives of installing a whole house fan system clearly outweigh the negatives, so on paper it just makes sense. But are they actually worth it? In the US there are some places where the summer temperatures are just too high for a whole house system to work efficiently. In a minority of cases, an air-con system makes more sense. In the vast majority of other cases, especially locations that are known to have cool summer nights, installing a whole house fan is definitely worth it.

Whole house fans are becoming an increasingly popular option. New homeowners are more budget-minded than ever before and are increasingly reluctant to become dependent on air conditioning as an option to cool their homes. More and more people are turning to more natural alternatives for cooling their homes, as they strive to protect both their wallets and the environment.

As you can clearly see, whole house fans are one of the fastest, cleanest, quietest, most eco-friendly house cooling systems on the market and most of all well worth the money.

9 thoughts on “Are whole house fans worth the money?”

  1. Very nicely written. Is the whole house fan considered a bad choice for homes with asthmatic patients and other allergies

    Reply
    • Hi Subhash, Whole house fan pulls outside air inside the house. So, if a person gets allergies from being outside due to pollen or other particles in the air, then a whole house fan might not be a good idea. But, what you can do is install a multi-room whole house fan, and when you open one window to let the air in, place a HEPA filter at that window to filter out pollen and other ultrafine particles.

      Check out an article I wrote on the difference between the standard whole house fan and multi-room whole house fan. For a standard whole house fan to work properly you need multiple windows open, but for a multi-room fan, you just need one window open. So a multi-room whole house fan will be the best option for someone with allergies because you could have one HEPA filter at the window. This configuration will pull fresh, cool air into the house without pollen.

      Reply

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