The reason why whole-house fans are popular is that they are not only efficient with energy; they are also quiet. Today I am going to tell you everything you need to know about them and how to keep your home cooled and comfortable.
Why is it wise to use a whole-house fan instead of A/C?
In comparison with A/C, the whole house fans are a very cost-effective solution. They will cool down your house for a fraction of the price [energy] than A/C. Especially in dry climates, and it is quite a no-brainer to purchase and install one and don’t use AC at all. But what most people miss is that you can combine AC and whole house fan. Why? To reduce the energy consumption of your household and to get fresh air in your home. In most cases, the fan only uses 10% or less energy than AC. Also, with the fan, you will be breathing natural fresh air rather than the recycled air from your AC.
How whole house fans work
All whole house fan is effective only when the outside temperature is lower than the heat that is indoors. This usually happens during the nights and sometimes during the evenings. The fan is mounted, and it is drawing the cold air from outside in the house. The air flows throughout the home, depending on how many windows are opened and if all doors are opened or not.
During the cycle of new fresh air coming in, the indoor of the house is cooling down. Since you have the whole night to cool your place, I highly recommend to set the fan on low to shallow settings, so it is quiet, and it does not bother you during your sleep. And why is all of this helpful? You will wake up in the cooled house, and you won’t have to start your AC at all, or maybe a few hours later than you usually would start your AC.
How to install a whole-house fan easily
This is not a long process. You could easily do this by yourself in one afternoon.
Finding a place to install the fan
When selecting a location for placing a whole house fan, you need to consider which rooms you want to cool down first. If you don’t need any particular room cooled first or with priority. Then the best place to install one is in the center of the house/home. If you install it in this location, it will create the maximal cooling efficiency, because the maximum airflow to the fan will be secured. Please, make sure that there are no obstructions in the area of installation. Also, remove insulation within that area. You should do this from the attic before you cut the ceiling from below.
Building the fan installation box
Either use the exact fan template, or you can wing it with rough estimates of it. Then cut a hole into your ceiling, the hole should be in the size of the fan. This will depend on the construction of your place, but in most cases you will end up using either two by four inch or two by six-inch boards, to create a box above the ceiling. Later on, these boxes will be the whole house fan. With the fan, you should have received a foam gasket. If you did not receive one, you should most probably get it. If you have one, install it on the top of the ceiling box.
Installing your whole house fan
Now, this part is tricky, and please be careful. Place the fan on top of the box you have just made. Make sure that it fits in the box, if there are gaps or spaces between the ceiling box and the fan, get silicone and apply it in those gaps or areas between those two. You should have also received the fan installation hardware. Please use that and secure the fan. After you are done with this process, replace the attic insulation which you have removed earlier in this process.
I am not going to advise you to do this yourself. But if you think you have enough experience, you can probably do this. If not, please call an electrition. But in case you would instead wire it yourself. Here is what you need to do. Wire the fan to the closest wall switch. Once the fan is connected to the power, you will be able to control it with remote control or with the wall switch. If you have a model with several speeds, you will also be able to change these.
Finishing the installation
After you are done with the wiring, you need to install the grill. Touch up at your ceiling to make sure if it was marred during this installation. If you feel it is necessary, apply silicone between the edges of the ceiling and the grill you are installing. After the silicone is all dried out, you can use paint, so everything looks apart.
What about the thermostat?
Whole house fans are not included with a thermostat or a humidistat. This system is operating only when there is a need for it. Homeowners turn this machine on and off when it is needed. Usually in the early morning or the evening, until the place is cooled or until the outside temperature is matching the one inside.
How much does a whole house fan cost?
This can differ so much. By size and power of the fan, if someone needs it for a smaller home or a bigger house. Also on what kind of weather is in your area year-round. But I would say on average homeowners end up paying $1500 with the installation fee included. The low end could be around eight or nine hundred dollars, including the work, but again, this depends a lot on where you live. And also, in certain areas, I would not be surprised to see a $3000 check for purchase and installation of a whole house fan.
Whole house fan Operating Tips
- After the start, use medium or even high speed to cool your house faster in the beginning so that you can use it on a low, quiet setting during the night
- The only time you should use the fan is when the air outdoors is cooler than the air in your house
- Always turn off A/C before you start the fan, so you are not jacking up the electricity bill
- Do not turn off the whole house fan during the night. The goal should be to cool throughout the night the whole place instead of cooling just the air. It takes quite some time to pull the heat from the house and cool everything as much as you can. And by that, I mean you want to cool down the floors, even the structure of your home. Ideally, by ventilating for the whole night, your home should be next day cooled as a whole and also to the core if possible. The more you cool your place during the night, the later you will need to start up your A/C
- Always double check if at least one or more windows are open. You don’t have to open two or more windows, but it is wise and recommended to begin more than one, but at least one. If you want to cool a specific room, the open window in that room and this room will be more cooled and faster than other rooms. But in the case where you want to cool your whole place generally, the window or windows should be opened as far away as they can be from the fan.
- The last tip I would like to give is that you should never start a fan without actually opening at least one window. And I mean it, it is very dangerous to run a fan without opening at least one window, it could create negative pressure in your place, and it could cause dangerous back drafting with gas appliances.
Four main benefits of a whole house fan
- Energy efficient
- Air Refreshing
- Low purchasing price in comparison to AC or attic fan
Frequently asked questions
If your question is not here, and it is also not answered within this article, please contact me. I will try to help you!
Do they work?
Of course, they do. I have one in my home. And after the installation of one. In the next few months, I was comparing my electricity bills with the old ones, where I was solely dependent on A/C to cool down our house. The difference in my electricity bill was insane. I wish I installed it years ago. If I would using the fan every night for a whole night, I might not even need the AC.
Can you run it all night long?
Yes, most people are using them this way. They only work when the air outside is cooler than the one you have indoors. This usually happens during nights, so yes, it is recommended to use them all night long.
How much does it cost to install a whole house fan?
I was talking about the cost of the installation earlier in this article, but that was also calculated with purchasing one. The cost of just installation depending on the fan and the area where you live, it can be anywhere from $150-$1000.
My last thoughts
If you are thinking about purchasing a whole house fan, I can highly recommend you to do that. I wish someone told me a few years ago to do it. Ever since I have installed one, I am spending so less money monthly on my electricity bill. If I got the fan first, I might not even purchase the A/C. I barely use it anymore. And when I do, it is only due to my laziness for those of you who would like to save money on the installation. Don’t worry. I was able to do it myself. So it is genuinely not that hard, this is not rocket science guys — anyway, good luck with the installation.