Summers just keep getting hotter along the Colorado Front Range. This blog will deftly skirt the global warming debate, but what’s hard to dispute is that each year gets hotter. To compensate, more and more people purchase air conditioners and evaporative coolers to stay comfortable during our relatively brief, yet at times intense summer heat.
But did you know that there are a variety of fan systems that can supplement, or depending on your tolerance limits, replace your need for conventional cooling?
It should be pointed out that the energy efficiency of conventional cooling systems has soared in recent years, courtesy of technology advancements and updated, government mandated efficiency standards. Manufacturers have invested huge sums in design improvements to meet the new requirements and, to their credit, equipment now exists that surpasses current standards by a wide margin.
Yet, as the earth warms, energy consumed by cooling systems remains a hot button for many homeowners. Smart practices for owning and operating your air conditioner—including regular annual maintenance, a programmable thermostat, making sure your home is well insulated, and effective use of window shading--can certainly help lower cooling bills.
But is there more that can be done? Just like with air conditioners, advances in fan systems have been significant. Ceiling fans, whole-house fans, and attic exhaust ventilators are products that have existed for generations, but now are better and more efficient than ever. Care to know more?
The idea of using ceiling-mounted fan blades to move indoor air goes back to ancient times. Early Egyptian and Greek civilizations used ceiling fans, although the energy used to operate those early systems was often inequitable, coming from involuntary human power. On a lighter note, you might consider enlisting your kids - if you have any - to fan you as you eat grapes while reclining on the sofa. But then, good luck with that!
Fan designs progressed over the centuries, but made a quantum leap in 1882, when Phillip Diehl, who engineered the first electric motors for use in Singer sewing machines, adapted his development to the first electric-driven ceiling fan. By the 1920s, electric ceiling fans were very popular in the United States, and their use around the world grew steadily.
When refrigerant air conditioners began gaining popularity in the U.S. in the 1950s, ceiling fan use in our country declined for several decades (but not the rest of the world, where AC didn't exist), until the wisdom of using the two systems to complement each other began catching on around the late 1970s. Today's ceiling fans, equipped with reversible motors, enable clockwise and counterclockwise fan blade rotation, and provide year-round benefit.
Year-Round Benefits of Ceiling Fans
- Help reduce cooling bills in the summer by keeping indoor air moving - the ‘wind chill effect’ - allowing the thermostat setting to be raised while providing a similar comfort level.
- Help reduce heating bills in the winter by redistributing warmer air that collects near the ceiling, allowing the thermostat setting to be lowered while providing similar comfort.
- Alleviate stuffiness caused by stagnant air.
- Provide customizing of the environment in individual rooms that have ceiling fans.
- Additional lighting source.
- Aesthetic complement to indoor spaces, providing accents to otherwise empty ceiling areas.
Whole House Fans
The concept of a whole house fan is to draw fresh, cool outdoor air into your home in the summer to replace hot indoor air, typically in the early evening after the sun has set and outdoor temperatures start dropping.
This concept has been with us since long before the advent of electric fans. In the U.S., the practice of incorporating natural convection drafting into home designs is well documented in the early 1800s in the residences of President Thomas Jefferson. But it wasn't until the 1900s that large, electric powered fans were used to enhance this practice for greater effect.
If you’ve had an older version of a whole house fan in your home it would be hard to forget. When the fan was turned on, louvers in the ceiling were pulled open and cool, refreshing air was drawn through the windows into the house.
But the truly unforgettable part was the tremendous racket the fan and louvers would make while the fan was running! Some people referred to it as a pleasant white noise. Many others were ready for straight jackets.
That conventional attic fan design still exists, although higher end models are available that are quieter. Of special note is that a new variety of the whole house fan is available that we highly recommend. The fan is located higher up in the attic and connected with a pipe to the ceiling grille. Because the fan is remotely mounted and of high quality, the noise reduction is tremendous. Also of benefit, the grille does not need to be a large square, making it easier to adapt to the framing in your ceiling. Multiple ceiling grilles can even be employed in the system design. Considerably less noise and easier to install – a great combination.
Why Install a Whole House Fan?
Whole house fans can significantly reduce air conditioning costs by allowing you to turn off the AC, open windows, and run a fan instead--whenever outdoor temperatures are cooler than indoors. If opening windows at night is not a security, allergy, or noise concern, running a whole house fun instead of your air conditioner can have noticeable impact on your cooling bills.
Our semi-arid Colorado climate lends itself to this practice. It is estimated that whole house fan operating costs are approximately 10 to 15% that of central air conditioning, so the savings can add up quickly.
If your home is normally empty during the day and you can’t justify a conventional cooling system investment, a lower cost whole house fan could even be your sole cooling source. You won’t want to run it during the day when it’s hot outside, but it can still be an effective nighttime solution on most Colorado evenings.
And remember, if you invest in a whole house fan now, and then your circumstances change down the road and you elect to install air conditioning, the two systems will work well in concert, one providing benefit during the day and the other at night.
Attic Exhaust Ventilators
Attic exhaust fans differ from whole house fans in that they only remove hot air from the attic space, as opposed to ventilating the entire home. Even if your attic has adequate passive air ventilation, it can still get pretty darn warm up there. A hot attic adds additional load and stress on your cooling system, increasing the cost to condition your home while consuming extra energy. With or without a a cooling system, a hot attic makes for a hotter house.
A thermostatically controlled attic fan can alleviate this situation, exhausting stagnant heat from the attic to the outdoors automatically, as needed. Solar powered attic exhaust fans are a nice and recommended option, capable of doing the job with the sun providing all the energy.
Professional Help to Do the Job Right
Many homeowners are left scratching their heads trying to figure out who to call to install a fan in their house. Handyman, heating guy, electrician? In the Denver and Boulder, Colorado area, Save Home Heat's electrical department has extensive experience installing a variety of fans for our customers, and is ready to get the job done for you promptly, safely and professionally.
Homeowners may want to select and purchase their own ceiling fans, as the selection is varied and tastes personal. No problem, we're happy to install them for you. For whole house fans and attic ventilators, Save Home Heat can recommend and provide you quality products along with installation.
So whether you're looking for help with fan products to make home life more comfortable and more affordable, or need assistance with any of your home electrical needs, contact Save Home Heat Company today. Experience the difference that our process makes!