Monday, June 1, 2009

Whole House Fans

Shane and I aren't fans of air conditioning. Of course, we don't like the cost of running A/C, but more than that, we don't like the stale air in the house when we use ours. We wait all winter to be rid of that closed-in feeling and would rather have our windows open as much as we can.

I often feel chilly when others are comfortable, or even warm. Shane works outside in the heat all summer doing construction work. Instead of wanting to come home to a house chilled by A/C as you might think, he tells me he'd rather come home to a house that's cooler, but not too chilly. He says the drastic temperature changes are harder on his body and accentuate the aches and pains that are inherent with his type of work. Air conditioning holds little appeal for us. We see it as a necessary evil that we use only when it gets so hot or humid that we just can't avoid it.

Over the weekend, Shane installed a whole house fan in our home. With it, we can cool our home without A/C, especially in the evenings, but really, anytime that the temperature outside is lower than it is inside the house. Whole house fans are sometimes called attic fans, but the two are not quite the same. Click here to find out how they differ and how using either or both can save money on cooling costs.

We bought ours Saturday morning and Shane had it installed by the same evening. Once he was in the attic, he could see that our home had once had a smaller whole house fan. We believe that it had quit working, then for whatever reason, the void in the ceiling had been drywalled over. But the frame for it was still there, which made that part of his work easier. However, we installed a larger fan than the one that had been here, and the existing frame wouldn't allow the louvers to open correctly. Shane had to build a new frame on the ceiling with 2x4s until the louvers were low enough so they didn't make contact with the old frame in the attic.

It's ugly right now, but we'll tape and mud it, then texture it to match the rest of the ceiling and it should look just fine. The important part is that it works.

Our whole house fan and a few things we needed to install it (a switch, switchplate, etc.) came to just under $300. We expect to save at least that much in cooling costs the first season. Your results mile vary, especially if you pay someone to install it, but it should save money no later than the second season.


Leanne said...

We bought one of the attic fans off ebay for £50 last year but ended up installing it in my mum's house. She loves it now and wouldn't be without it. It vents air out of the house rather than drawing in so she has it attached to her vents in the bathroom, extractor above the cooker and two larger separate vents in the kitchen and living room, there is still enough attachments to install two more smaller vents in two of the bedrooms and she plans on getting round to it this summer. It came from Spain and the entire unit is more energy efficient than a regular cooker extractor so she's happy.

SonyaAnn said...

I can't wait to hear about how well it works for you this summer.

Lisa B. said...

I was really excited when we bought this house because it already had a whole house fan in it. Boy was I disappointed that first year. The difference in running it one month and then the ac in August was $15 dollars. I only use it in the spring and fall, (and if I burn

Annie Jones said...

Leanne: I can see how an attic fan would be helpful. I'm not sure if we'll install one or not, but it sounds like it was worthwhile for your mom.

SonyaAnn: I'll keep you posted.

Lisa: Oh no! I hope we see a bigger saving than that. I guess only time will tell.

Tug said...

That's a great idea! I totally get the A/C being too much of a change, and also the staleness...I was just thinking about that this weekend when it was high 80's with no breeze.

Leanne said...

The thing is thoough it just doesn't get as hot here, humid but not hot so the attic fan is enough in Northern Ireland. I still like the idea of the house fan for when I burn things though:)

The Cookbook Junkie said...

We have one of those fans but we don't use it. For one thing, it would work best in the evening, to draw cool air in. My husband has OCD about locking up the house tight every night so no way would he sleep with any windows open.

I found that it drew in small gnats, through the window screens (the suction was that powerful).

It also drew in the odor from the garage, through the pet door. We had cats back then and we kept their litter boxes in the garage. The previous owners must have kept pets out there too because the floor in the garage had a stink we couldn't get rid of until we resealed it after our last cat died.

Annie Jones said...

I can see how it might be a problem if your husband can't sleep with the windows open.

I'll watch for gnats...LOL!

Janelle said...

I desperately want one of these!! Our old house had one and that is what I miss the most!! But we have absolutely NO idea how to install one (even though we already have the perfect opening in the attic, just waiting), so I will have to pay someone to put it in, which costs way more than we can pay. Lucky you! :-)