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 costs? 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 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. Whole House Fans are 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. Whole House Fans are Better for the Environment

Whole house fan systems are much better for the environment than any other central air system 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. Whole House Fans are 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-conscious, 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 through 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 associate with older fans. Even the lightest sleeper can run 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 was 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.

Pros and Cons of the Whole House Fan

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 new construction and the architect and engineers should be making these allowances 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. Only 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.

What Does a Whole House Fan Cost to Install?

According to Cost Helper, the cost for a whole-house fan can range anywhere from $300 to $1,200, with the average cost being around $700. The price will largely depend on the specific model that is chosen as well as the size of the home. Installation costs will also play a role in the final price tag. Therefore, it is important to get several estimates before making a final decision.

To get a better idea of how much it will cost to install a whole-house fan in your home, it is always best to consult with a professional. They will be able to give you a more accurate estimate based on the specific details of your project.

Do Whole House Fans Really Work?

Whole house fans work by pulling air out of your home and circulating it outdoors. This process can help to cool your home, as well as improve the indoor air quality. There are a few things to keep in mind when using a whole house fan, such as making sure that all doors and windows are closed and that the fan is properly ventilated. Additionally, whole-house fans should be used in conjunction with air conditioning units for optimal results.

So, do whole house fans really work? Yes, they can be an effective way to cool your home and improve indoor air quality. Just remember to take some basic precautions when using them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Whole House Fans Good or Bad?

There is no simple answer to this question as whole house fans can have both good and bad effects, depending on the specific situation. Some people may find that a whole house fan helps to improve their indoor air quality and provides them with fresh air, while others may find that it creates too much noise or decreases the overall comfort of their home. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to decide whether or not a whole house fan is right for them.

What is the Difference Between Whole House Fan and Attic Fan?

Whole house fans and attic fans serve different purposes. Whole-house fans are used to circulate air throughout the entire house, while attic fans are used to ventilate the attic space. Attic fans are typically installed in the ceiling of the attic, while whole-house fans are installed on the floor of the home, usually in the hallway or landing. Whole house fans are typically larger and more powerful than attic fans.

Whole house fans are used to cool the entire house by drawing in cooler air from outside and circulating it throughout the home. Attic fans are used to ventilate the attic space to remove hot air and help prevent heat build-up.

What is the Difference Between Whole House Fan and AC?

There are a few key differences between whole-house fans and air conditioners. First, whole-house fans are designed to be used in conjunction with windows and doors, whereas air conditioners are self-contained units. Second, whole-house fans circulate air throughout the entire home, whereas air conditioners cool a specific area. Third, whole-house fans are less expensive to operate than air conditioners, and they can provide significant energy savings. Finally, whole-house fans are typically quieter than air conditioners.

Will the Whole House Fan Cool the House?

As with any other fan, a whole-house fan will cool the house by circulating air. By pulling cooler air in from outside and pushing warmer air out through the attic, a whole-house fan can create a much more comfortable environment inside your home. Additionally, running a whole-house fan can help to reduce your energy costs by reducing the need to use your air conditioner as much.

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

      • What about when the air quality outside is bad such as when there are fires or pollution from inversions?
        The article was informative but seemed a little limited in the negative aspects. Thanks!

        • I have had a whole house fan for two years now. I live in Southern California so we use it a ton! Negatives for the whole house fan would be the noise factor – the high setting is rather loud, but the low isn’t too noticeable. I have also noticed a huge increase in dust in our house because of pulling in so much extra air – haven’t white figured out a solution to the extra dust. And lastly, yes – you can’t use it when the air quality is worse outside so this wouldn’t be beneficial if you lived in an are where there were a lot of fires or pollutants. But we love ours and use it almost everyday.

          • You need more vents. Your fan is discharging more air than your attic can expel. We use an attic fan in addition to our WW fan, and the efficiency is unbelievable.

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

    • 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.

  2. Well done. What would you recommend for a house 960 sq. Ft. with no hallway space for a unit. Can the intake be in another room or more in a central living area?

  3. QuietCool certainly should not increase resale value when the manufacturer doesn’t support poor quality and obvious design defects for anyone but original owner. It is standard practice to flip off the breaker and back on to get it working again. Support told me I needed to buy a new module that no longer has that problem, and since I am not the original owner, it is all on me. Makes me wonder about the fire safety of fhe unit if this is how they handle their mistakes.

  4. Hi Viktor
    Can I purchase these whole house fans direct from the manufacturer?
    I’d like to install myself.
    If so where can I get them from.

  5. Well written. I live in northern California, and I have had my WHF for approximately 3 years and it was by far one of my best home investments. Like the article, I hardly use my AC. I would only caveat the excellent article by saying it can work even more efficiently if you have energy efficient windows and doors to help keep the home cooler longer. Fresh fact…yesterday it hit 100 degrees, but I utilized my WHF the night before which hit about 67 degrees, closed up the house (windows), went to work for 8+ hours, came home about 3p and the inside thermostat read 72 while outside was 96. It is wonderful to enter a cool home and not having to use my AC! I will say in the early evening, that is when the home begins to warm up, so you just repeat the process!

  6. Thank you for your informative blog, which provides detailed information about whole-house fans. We just had one installed two days ago, and this blog will help us to make better use of it.

  7. Hi Viktor,
    Thanks for the information. We are building a home in Colorado and are trying to avoid a ducted AC system. We have operable shed dormer windows and a living area with windows in a below-grade basement with the idea that we can run air well through the home. We are hoping to install infrastructure for mini-split heat pumps for active cooling, but primarily want to cool the home with a WHF. Recently had a “net zero” energy audit, and the recommendation was to scrap the whole house fan and install heat recovery ventilation (HRV) systems for air exchange. Any experience with this? They say the house will be tight and we’ll want year-round air exchange, which the WHF cannot do (wouldn’t be run in the winter months, and wouldn’t be ideal during fire season). I’ve already purchased the Quiet Cool unit and like the idea of the evening cooling with low cost, so I’d have to return it. Any ideas on what’s best?


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