Benefits of Attic Fans and Ventilation

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attic fans and proper attic ventilationIt’s a fact that heat rises, and your attic is the highest spot in the house. Even on a moderately warm, eighty-degree day, your attic can be as hot as 100 degrees, which can be damaging to the major house components that are often located in the home’s attic space. Attic fans can make a significant difference in energy costs and in the lifespan of major components such as insulation, venting, plumbing and electrical wiring. That is why more and more new homes are being built with whole house fan systems that keep heat from building up in the huse’s dead air spaces.

Benefits of Improved Attic Ventilation

According to Energy.gov, ventilation is the least expensive and most energy-efficient way to cool buildings. Ventilation works best when combined with methods to avoid heat buildup in your home.

Today’s attic fans are integrated with the roof shingles and use very little energy (less than 300 Watts each). Since the attic acts as a “buffer zone” between the interior of your home and the outside world, its important to regulate the temperature in this zone to maintain a consistent temperature in your living space. In fact, attic fans can:

  • Reduce upper floor room temperatures by an average of 10 degrees
  • Lengthen the life of roofing materials and major home components
  • Save up to 30% on home air-conditioning costs

As another layer of protection from the heat and cold for your home, attic insulation is installed. Attic insulation hinders the upward movement of heat, retaining cooler air in during the summer months and keeping your home warmer in the winter months. You will also notice built in paper or aluminum foil forward facing on the insulation panels. These are air-vapor barriers that help to keep moisture that rises up from inside the home from penetrating the insulation.

Attic and roof ventilation are important components to regulating temperature and moisture levels in the home as the weather conditions and seasons change. When it’s cold outside, air can leak in around attic access panels, ceiling light fixtures, exhaust fans, etc., which brings outside moisture into your home’s attic space. Something as simple as going into the attic to get something from storage can significantly increase the moisture level in your home as all that warm moist air rises up through the open access panel.

Types of Attic Ventilation

  1. Non-Mechanical Attic Ventilation – This is seen in many older homes (pre-1980) and called “gable vents”. They are screened and louvered vents that are located up near the roof peak in the side walls of the attic. They are quite efficient at keeping the highest airspace in the attic cooler; however, they often cause hot spots where there is no air movement. If you have a home with gable vents, consider installing a fan as it will eliminate the hot spots and keep things cooler. There is another option of using soffit vents and ridge vents which can provide adequate non-mechanical venting. However, most roof designs do not allow for adequate non-mechanical ventilation alone to be optimal.
  2. Solar and Electric Attic Fans – Not as powerful as an electric fan, a solar powered attic fan or roof vent does greatly improve air flow in the attic space. Temperatures in your attic can reach upwards of 150 degrees without an attic fan. The fan creates steady air-flow through the attic space; however, if too much air flow is exchanged between outside the attic, moisture from snow and rain can infiltrate. If you live in high humidity/wet area, you may want to consider installing a humidity control system in your attic as well to prevent moisture issues. The two most common types of electrical/solar attic fan used are roof top and gable end. Electric fans are more powerful and cost efficient while solar powered models are most costly but leverage green electric power. Whichever you choose, the attic fan(s) you choose to install should have a programmable thermostat to control and a firestat, which shuts the fan off in case of fire. You should avoid plastic – all metal are the ones to purchase along with models that have solid screens to keep pests out of your attic.
  3. Whole House Fan Systems – These systems keep dead spaces from heating up and pull cool air throughout the home. In some cases, for those that live in mild climates where the temperature stays below 82 degrees, they are being used as an alternative to traditional home air conditioning. The same is true for older homes where its too expensive or difficult to install a central air conditioning system. One potential downfall for whole house fan systems is noise; however, if the unit is engineered correctly, the system should run quietly and efficiently. Look for fans with more blades as they will be quieter than those with fewer blades and make sure to mount the fan with foam or rubber strips to reduce vibration and sound.

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At US Home Filter, we enjoy helping our customers solve filtration issues and we are here to answer your questions about your indoor air quality and allergy concerns. We recommend our highest-rated MERV 13 pleated filters for your home or business if you desire the cleanest air possible and suffer from severe allergies such as those that can be triggered by your loving pets. Whether you need AC or furnace filters, a specialty Whole House filter, a Grille filter, or even a custom air filter size, we have a professional and helpful staff ready to take care of you!

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