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Is A Whole House Fan Worth it? I save Hundreds Per Year!


I save hundreds of dollars with a whole house fan

If you are looking at the possibility of investing in a whole house fan, you may be wondering if it is actually worth the cost and effort of installation. I installed one when we built our new home a couple of years ago and I’ve found it to be well worth the investment.

Whole house fans can save homeowners hundreds of dollars each year in mild to hot climates. It is literally an investment that pays for itself and, depending on where you live, that return on investment can come very quickly.

Texas is a hot state. We love our air conditioning. We do have seasons, however, whe it feels absolutely amazing outside. So much so that you want to bring the fresh, cool, outside air into your home.

The traditional approach to this is to open up some windows and doors to let the fresh air in. While that does provide a passive approach, a whole house fan kicks this into over-gear and adds a cool, refreshing breeze through the home while simultaneously cooling the attic.

What Is A Whole House Fan?

A whole house fan is a large fan, usually installed into your ceiling, that pulls air from inside the house and exhausts it into the attic. By opening windows throughout your home, you can pull fresh air into the house and cool your home for significantly less than the cost of running your air conditioner.

A whole house fan reduces energy costs when used instead of central air conditioning and heating.

A whole house fan also has a side benfit. By exhausting air into the attic, it results in a cooler attic space which in turn helps cool the house.

Is A Whole House Fan The Same As An Attic Fan?

This is a common misconception but the answer is no. A whole house fan pulls fresh air into your home and exhausts air into your attic. An attic fan pulls air from your soffit vents and exhausts out of the attic, bypassing the conditioned airspace inside your home completely.

Although both are designed to make your home more comfortable, they do this with completely different approaches. The whole house fan cools the house by both pulling fresh air into the home and by cooling the attic as it exhausts cooler air into it. An attic fan cools the home by focusing strictly on keeping the attic temperatures cooler.

When Is The Best Time Of Day To Run A Whole House Fan?

Basically, anytime the temperature outside of the home is more comfortable than the temperature inside, you can run a whole house fan to make your home more comfortable. This is generally in the evenings, at night, and in the early morning.

What I have found works best for my family is to turn off my air conditioner in the late afternoon when the temperatures outside start to get comfortable. An hour or two later as the house begins to warm up, I will turn on the whole house fan. We let it run all night (remember, it uses only a very small fraction of the electricity that an air conditioning system uses) and then turn it off in the morning when it begins to warm up outside.

Can You Run A Whole House Fan All Night?

Yes. As stated above, I run my whole house fan all night very often during the fall and spring when it feels really nice outside. This is actually the best time to run it in many climates as outside temperatures are usually cooler at night when the sun is down.

When Should You Not Run A Whole House Fan?

When the temperature inside is more comfortable than outside then you will not want to run your whole house fan. It works best on those days when you want to open up the windows and let the fresh air in because it feels so good outside.

You also don’t want to run a whole house fan when it’s raining as the system will pull humidity into your home and attic.

Doesn’t A Whole House Fan Just Pull Conditioned Air Out of The House And Waste Money?

There are arguments made by “experts” that using a whole house fan just wastes money by exhausting all of your conditioned air into the attic. I guess that is true enough but if you have had the air conditioner off for a couple of hours and the temperatures outside are more comfortable than they are inside, then what’s the difference? Everyone loves to open their windows and let fresh air in. Isn’t this also just letting conditioned air out?

Don’t let over-analyzing stop you from doing something that makes common sense. If it feels nice outside, if it’s one of those nights when you would enjoy sleeping with the windows open, then it makes perfect sense to run a whole house fan.

You really have to stop and consider the logic of it all. Sure, by turning on a whole house fan and opening some windows are you exhausting some conditioned air into the attic.

But what if you don’t? What if you leave the air conditioner on and leave the windows closed. You get to keep that conditioned air in the house but you also have to continue conditioning it all night. Your air conditioner costs a LOT more to run than a whole house fan does.

Where is the logic in spending more money running your air conditioner so that you don’t lose a little conditioned air???

How I Save Hundreds Of Dollars With A Whole House Fan

I’m going to share with you how I save hundreds of dollars on my electric bill, thanks to my whole house fan. As I mentioned earlier in this post, the secret has to do with knowing when to run it.

The whole house fan is used primarily in the spring and fall when temperatures outside are, at least in Texas, most pleasant. I run our air conditioner through the day if needed but as evening comes I turn it off in the late afternoon.

For an hour or two, the conditioned air remains cool enough that the indoors are comfortable but as soon as the outside air temperatures are more comfortable than the indoor air, I turn on the whole house fan, making sure to open a few windows throughout the house and let it go to work.

The model I chose is remarkably quiet and makes only a little more noise than our central air conditioning unit when it’s run on high. If I set it to low, then it is hardly noticeable.

I let the fan run all night with windows cracked in the bedrooms and the main area of the house. It keeps the house cool and comfortable all night for a fraction of the cost of running my central air.

When morning comes, I generally leave the whole house fan running until we are getting ready to leave for work or until the temperatures outside begin to warm. At that point, I’ll turn off the whole house fan, close the windows, and turn the air conditioner back on.

Since it is already cool in the house, the air conditioner doesn’t kick on until the house begins to warm up.

That’s it. That’s all there is to it. This whole house fan has easily paid for itself in energy savings. I read all the reasons that you should and should not have an attic fan but at the end of the day I looked at what made sense for my situation. Texas climate doesn’t have year-round tropical temperatures, but there are a couple of months before and after summer where the outdoors just feel amazing.

A whole house fan allows me to bring that cool, fresh air into my home and simultaneously save hundreds of dollars compared to running central air. That’s a no-brainer investment.

This is the whole house fan I purchased in March of 2016. It has brought reliable energy savings and cool refreshing air into our home since that time without so much as a hiccup in performance.

What To Consider When Buying A Whole House Fan

I will admit to having obsessed over this purchase. Not only did I research the benefits vs. cost of owning a whole house fan, I also studied different brands and models to the point that my wife was saying “just buy one already”.

A whole house fan is an investment, hundreds of dollars going into you home for the purpose of saving energy and making your home more efficient. For me, it made sense to do my due diligence.

Company Reputation and Reliability

I finally settled on the QuietCool brand because of their reputation in the industry, their focus on efficiency and quietness, and the reviews that I found online. I studied their downloadable spec sheets and installation manuals.

The Quietcool whole house fan that I purchased includes a 10 year motor warranty and a damper system to prevent air leakage when not in use.

Quiet, Efficient Cooling

I wanted a clean, efficient cooling system that didn’t make a lot of noise. I can remember growing up with a whole house fan in my parents’ house that sounded like a helicopter preparing to take off! I knew if the whole house fan was loud and annoying we would never use it.

One of the features that made the Quietcool brand stand out for me was the innovative approach of not mounting the fan directly to the ceiling. Instead, it is suspended by straps in the attic and the air is pulled into it through a large flexible hose that connects to a cover mount where the whole in the ceiling is. This prevents the vibration and noise that is so often associated with whole house fans. And let me tell you, it makes all the difference!

Whole house fan bracing reduces vibration and sound.

Installation

Installing a whole-house fan is a good day’s work, possibly even a weekend. I installed our whole house fan while building our new house so I didn’t have to deal with working in an attic that was already insulated. At the end of the day though, that part really would not have been that big of a deal since I would only have needed to push away enough insulation to mount the base of the fan to the ceiling.

Our sheetrock was in and so we needed to cut a hole through it but fortunately, the Quietcool fan came with a cutting template, making this an easy task. The system assembles in three sections making it easier to carry into the attic. There is a base that fits over the hole you cut in your ceiling, a large flexible hose where the air travels through, and the fan itself which is designed to be suspended by included straps.

Here is a video from the company’s YouTube channel that quickly covers the basics of installation.

How to Install QuietCool Whole House Fans

I took the time to seal around the housing that sits atop the sheetrock. Air sealing is such an important part of home efficiency. I used Great Stuff foam spray and it worked perfectly for this.

When the system is off, it has these large, padded slats (damper system) that automatically close to keep conditioned air from escaping. This is another benefit of innovation that old whole house fans did not have.

When you turn the system on, the pull of the fan opens these damper slats to allow it to pull air in.

From inside the house, the system is unobtrusive. The grill goes mostly unnoticed as another air vent in our home.

Whole House Fan Grill On Ceiling

You can read all about the features of this system on the company’s website.

Wiring

Wiring diagram that was included.

This was much simpler than I expected. The system included a wiring diagram and I just followed the instructions. I did decide to purchase a two-speed power switch and a countdown timer switch so that I could run the fan at high or low speed and have it automatically shut off after a set amount of time.

Whole house fan 2 speed switch and timer

The manual also included wiring diagrams for setting up the system without these options and just running the system in single speed mode. You can download the Quietcool Classic Manual by clicking here. The company’s YouTube channel also has short videos demonstrating how to wire the fan for single and dual speed use.

Conclusion

After considerable real-world testing in my own home, I can say that I would absolutely recommend a whole house fan if you live in an area that has comfortable outdoor temperatures at least a couple of months each year.

I am extremely satisfied with the Quietcool whole house fan and, if I were to ever need to purchase another whole house fan I can say with absolute confidence that this would be the one I would purchase again.

There are tons of websites that “review” whole house fans. They give you the specs, the features, maybe even a side by side comparison with other brands. That’s great. But they don’t actually use them. They don’t install them in their homes.

I can tell you that I didn’t just look up these features on company websites and regurgitate them. This whole house fan is in my home. I have used it since it was installed in 2016.

For every website that says whole house fans waste money instead of saving it, there is a study that shows the opposite. Take for example this report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy. They compare the cost of running a 2 two, 10 SEER central air system in Atlanta Georgia, averaging around $250 per month, to a whole house fan operating at 1-5 cents per hour. It’s not hard to see how I save hundreds every year!

“Experts” can go on debating the validity of whole house fans as energy saving systems for homeowners. What I know is this. I save hundreds of dollars every year using my Quietcool Whole House Fan. It’s quiet, it saves me money, and it makes the house feel amazing on those days when the outdoor temperatures are right. And for me, that’s the bottom line.

Ready to save more? You need to read Energy Efficient Home Upgrades – Which Ones Are Worth It?

Are you sure your home is energy efficient? Here’s how to know.

Paul

As a homeowner, I am constantly experimenting with making the structure of my house more energy-efficient, eliminating pests, and taking on DIY home improvement projects. Over the past two decades, my family has rehabbed houses and contracted new home builds and I've learned a lot along the way. I share my hard-learned lessons so that you can save time and money by not repeating my mistakes.

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