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Experts In Your Home Blog

Home Cooling Help: Where to Begin When Installing a Whole House Fan

[fa icon="calendar"] April 29, 2016 at 3:19 PM / by Home Services Expert

open window cooling off houseYou can make certain assumptions about the weather in northern California. One of them is that your electricity bill is going to increase – maybe even soar – over the summer months.

This is an entirely reasonable assumption – unless you decide to install a whole-house fan.

The home experts and pun lovers at The Hignell Companies like to say that we're big fans of whole-house fans because we know they can help homeowners save big money on their summer electric bills – provided that the fans are used correctly.

Some of the questions we hear most from customers may help you decide whether a whole-house fan is right for you:

Question: I've heard that a whole-house fan is different from a tabletop or floor fan. It doesn't just push hot air around, right?

Hignell's answer: That's right. A whole-house fan, mounted in the attic, creates a push and pull effect with the warm air inside your home and the cool air outdoors: As the fan pushes hot air that accumulates in the attic through vents, it pulls cooler outdoor air through open windows and doors.

Question: So you have to pay close attention to the weather to use a whole-house fan?

Hignell's answer: In fact, this is vital. But it's really not complicated, either. When it cools off outside – usually after sundown – you open a few lower-level windows and doors in your home, close the fireplace damper and turn on the whole-house fan. Once your home cools off, you can turn off the fan and close your windows and doors. When you do so is up to you. Some people who have a whole-house fan keep everything closed from early morning until sundown so that all the cool air doesn't escape – and they don't have to run their air conditioner. Other people turn off the fan and keep their windows open. Either way, a whole-house fan works best when the outdoor temperature is below 80 degrees, and 70 degrees is even better. In the simplest terms, a whole-house fan should be turned on when the outdoor temperature is cooler than the temperature inside your home.

Question: So the bottom line is, depending on the weather, I may not have to run my air conditioner at all with a whole-house fan. Is this true?

Hignell's answer: The answer depends almost entirely on your comfort level and tolerance for heat. People whose homes do have not central air conditioning consider their whole-house fan a lifesaver. For everyone else, Hignell likes the even-handed tone of the U.S. Department of Energy: “Whole-house cooling using a whole-house fan can substitute for an air conditioner most of the year in most climates. Whole-house fans combined with ceiling fans and other circulating fans provide acceptable summer comfort for many families, even in hot weather.” This is why a whole-house fan can slash your summer electric bills considerably.

Question: What about humidity? Can a whole-house fan counteract humid air?

Hignell's answer: No, a whole-house fan does not dehumidify like an air conditioner. If you love fresh air, a whole-house fan will infuse your home with it. But if someone in your home suffers from allergies, keep in mind that a whole-house fan also could infuse your home with outdoor dust and pollen, too.

Question: I know it can get really hot in my attic, so should I have thermostat installed up there so that the fan turns on automatically?

Hignell's answer: You're on the right track because yes: On the hottest days of summer, your attic can feel like an oven, with the temperature reaching 150 degrees. This heat eventually infiltrates your attic floor and walls and seeps into your home. Nevertheless, Hignell does not recommend a thermostat-controlled fan because the fan could turn on before you have the chance to open windows and doors on the first floor of your home. In this scenario, the fan also could turn on when you're not home.

Question: I've heard that one drawback to a whole-house fan is the noise. How noisy are they?

Hignell answer: In actuality, a whole-house fan should be “whisper quiet” – if it's been sized and installed properly. But the installation can be tricky, and the issues of proper attic insulation and ventilation must be addressed for a whole-house fan to work at peak efficiency.

For many reasons, Hignell does not recommend that homeowners undertake a whole-house fan installation themselves. Too much can go wrong. Call Hignell for a consultation – and then you can thoroughly chill out with one of the best workmanship and peace-of-mind guarantees in northern California.

Click below to get a free whole house fan quote from The Hignell Companies.

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The Hignell Companies has been in business for over 60 years and provides heating & air conditioning, plumbing, electrical services & more for your home or business in the communities of Chico, Paradise, Magalia, Durham, Oroville, Red Bluff, Corning & Orland, California.

Topics: Heating and Air