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Attic Fans Vs. Whole-House Fans: Do You Know Difference?

Not all fans moving air in the attic are attic fans. Confused? Proper ventilation is important in both conditioned areas of the home, such as living spaces, and unconditioned areas, like the attic. However, the fans that fulfill those needs for improved air circulation are as different as the areas they're designed to ventilate. A homeowner can choose from attic fans and whole-house fans. In fact, even with central air conditioning installed, many homes can benefit from ventilation by both types of fans.

Here’s the difference between attic fans and whole-house fans:

  • Whole-house fans ventilate your living spaces. Though they mount in the ceiling and push household air into the attic, a whole-house fan is a powerful unit that pulls a high volume of air into the home though open windows, usually at night or in the cool of the morning. Air conveyed into the attic exhausts through existing gable and roof vents. Use of a whole-house fan when outside air is cool can reduce the dependence on central air conditioning. A whole-house fan generally consumes about 10 percent as much electricity as a typical central A/C. 

  • Attic fans exhaust excessive heat. In summer, the accumulation of heat in the attic can approach 150 degrees. This oven-like environment radiates heat down through your ceiling. Rooms beneath a broiling attic can be as much as 10 degrees hotter than rooms elsewhere. This forces your air conditioner compressor to run longer "on" cycles in order to meet thermostat settings, which in turn drives up cooling costs. An attic fan mounted on your roof supplements the attic's passive circulation, pulling air in through soffit vents near the eaves and circulating up and out through the vent at the peak of the roof. This increased ventilation can reduce summer attic temperatures by as much as 50 degrees.

Sobieski Services offers both attic and whole-house fans to ventilate all areas of your home. Our goal is to help educate our customers in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC & plumbing systems).

Image Credit: alykat

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