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Cooling With A Whole House Fan

March 24, 2015 | Posted by Mitt Jones

Tamarack_HV1000_small.pngLooking for a way to cool down your house after a hot, sunny day without using an air conditioner? With our low summer humidity and cool summer nights, Portland is a great location for cooling with a whole house fan.

How Whole House Fans Work

The idea behind a whole house fan is simple: When it’s cooler outside than inside and you want to cool down your house, first open a few windows. Then turn on the fan, which is installed in your ceiling. The fan will pull cool air into your house through the windows as it pushes warmer air out through your attic.

Using a whole house fan is a lot like using window fans, but whole house fans are typically much more powerful. They are also more convenient to use, because you don’t have to install one or more fans into a window every night and then remember to remove them the next day when it’s time to close your windows.

Tamarack Whole House Fans

One knock on whole house fans is that they essentially constitute a hole in your ceiling that causes you to lose heat to the attic in winter. Tamarack whole house fans such as the HV1000 have insulated doors that automatically open and close when you power the fan on and off. Tamarack fans are also relatively quiet and energy efficient.

Challenges with Whole House Fans

Whole house fans aren’t for everybody. If anybody in your household has a pollen allergy, for instance, pulling fresh summer air into your Portland home every night probably isn’t workable, at least until mid to late July.

Also keep in mind that for a whole house fan to work well, you’ll need to leave doors open to the rooms you’re trying to cool, which are typically bedrooms.

The geometry of your ceiling or attic can also present challenges. The best location for a whole house fan is a hallway or other central location, which should have a flat ceiling. And for a whole house fan to move air out through your attic rather than to blow it back down into your house, your attic should have at least reasonably good insulation. If the floor of your attic has been air sealed, all the better.

Whole house fans can also be impractical if you live near somebody who likes to use outdoor fire pits in summer or who has a habit of lighting up in the backyard every night. Instead of cool, clean air you’ll be pulling smoke into your house.

Finally, as with window fans, using a whole house fan does require that you pay attention to indoor and outdoor temperatures. It’s not rocket science, but figuring out when best to open up the house each night and close it up each morning takes more effort than setting the thermostat of a central air conditioner.

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