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Should you consider a Traditional or Modern Whole House Fan

It doesn’t make much sense to use an air conditioner to cool a home when the outside air is cooler than the inside. So in areas with hot days and cool nights, people often use whole-house fans to exhaust the hot indoor air once the outside temperature drops below 78°F.

Whole-house fans are installed in the ceiling, in an opening that is cut into the attic. They flush indoor air out through the attic, replacing it with outside air drawn in through the open windows. Residents turn on the fan and open windows when the outside temperature drops below the inside temperature, and for best results, they leave the fan on for several hours – preferably overnight. This cools the house down and also flushes built-up heat (much of which would otherwise find its way back into the home) from the attic.

In some climates – those with wide swings between day and nighttime temperatures, such as drier, inland areas – whole-house fans can sometimes replace air conditioning altogether. In others they can reduce the run time of the air conditioner and precool the home so the air conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard. Residents with air conditioning are often able to use a whole-house fan exclusively in spring and fall, and during much of the summer, turning on the air conditioner only on extremely hot days.

Many people prefer to use outdoor air for cooling, because they find the air conditioner dries the air out too much, or because they enjoy the gentle breeze a fan can create. However, whole-house fans should not be used during very humid days because they bring in moisture with the air.

But how big should a whole-house fan be? Traditional whole-house fan sizing methods are based upon getting enough air flowing through the home to create a cooling breeze while providing 15-20 air changes per hour (ACH) and flushing heat out of the attic. A gentle breeze causes evaporation off the human body and therefore can make the temperature feel several degrees cooler than it actually is. However, whole-house fans that are big enough to create a breeze sometimes produce unintended effects, such as heat loss, noise, and house depressurization.

The Fan and the House System

Traditional whole-house fans use anywhere from 700 to 1100 watts and are typically sized to move 4,000 to 7000 cubic feet per minute (CFM) of air, depending on the size of the home. The fan blades are usually 24 to 36 inches long; fans with larger blades have higher CFM ratings than those with smaller blades. Common sizing methods include dividing the volume of the house by three (for 20 ACH) or four (for 15 ACH), or–assuming 9-foot ceilings–multiplying the floor area of the house by three to get the fan’s CFM for 15 ACH. Although this presents quite a range of possible fan sizes for a given house, a fan sized by any of these methods would provide a complete house air change every few minutes.

When this much air is being sucked out of the house, it is vital that the house system be set up to handle it without causing harmful side effects from depressurization. This includes having enough attic vents for the air to escape through and having enough open window area to replace the air being exhausted.

Attic Vents

To make sure the air drawn up into the attic can escape, there should be about 1 sq. ft. of net free area for every 750 CFM of fan airflow. Not all houses have enough existing attic ventilation to accommodate a traditional whole-house fan. For instance, to install a 4,800 CFM fan, there should be about 6.4 sq. ft. of net free vent area in the attic. Standard building code requires a minimum of 1 sq. ft. of net free vent area in the attic for every 300 sq. ft. of attic floor area. For example, a 1,500 sq. ft. single story house would probably have about 5 sq. ft. of net free vent area already installed to meet the minimum code. A 4,800 CFM fan would require an additional 1.4 sq. ft. of net free vent area to this attic.

What happens if there is not enough vent area in the attic? First, the fan cannot move as much air, because the lack of an escape route causes back pressure on it from the attic air. The fan cannot work well, even though it may look as if it does. Second, the pressurized and hot attic air will find its way back into the house through leaks in ceiling and walls. And finally, the back pressure on the fan will cause it to be noisy.

Open Windows

Residents need to remember to open windows while the whole-house fan is running. Without sufficient open-window area, the fan motor has to work too hard to pull air through the smaller openings within the structure, and thus may burn out early.

For air to flow freely through the house without causing depressurization, the total open-window area should be approximately the same as the attic’s net free vent area through which the air is escaping. So for the 4,800 CFM fan discussed above, there should be about 6.4 sq. ft. of total open window area.

Insulation and Air Sealing

Whole-house fans are installed in a hole in the ceiling leading into an attic. This creates an uninsulated area of the attic, up to 9 sq. ft. for a 36-inch 6,000 CFM fan. The fans themselves generally have louvers that close when they’re turned off, but these louvers are not airtight.

Energy specialists sometimes recommend that homeowners build insulated boxes to place over the fans in the winter. However, a homeowner has to be pretty dedicated to build and use a box cover, and none of the traditional fan manufacturers sell such covers. Homeowners who do build an insulated cover must remember to take it off before turning on the fan, to avoid burning out the fan or starting a fire (this is likely the reason why no company sells the covers).

Noise

Traditional whole-house fans tend to be very noisy. This can cause residents to use them sporadically, turning them off whenever the noise bothers them.

Some fans are noisier than others. Belt drive fans are a little quieter than direct-drive fans because they can move more air at a slower fan speed. However, belt drive fans require maintenance every two years. Other factors can cause fan noise as well. Loose installation will cause the unit to vibrate and make excessive noise. And a fan trying to force air out through vents that are too small will emit an annoying whistle.

Keeping a Whole-House Approach

Given their drawbacks, can whole-house fans be included on a modern energy efficiency retrofit list? Yes, they can. In many cases, they provide efficient and effective cooling without causing problems. And they are very cost-effective – most fans cost only about one-tenth as much to operate as a central air conditioner. However, it is essential that the fan and vents be properly installed and that homeowners understand the need to open enough windows when the fan is on.

A better solution to the traditional whole house fan

An alternative to traditional whole-house fans is a modern and ultra quiet whole house fan from Comfort Cool Fans. Although Comfort Cool Fans move less air than the traditional style whole house fans, they require no framing to install; no extra attic vents; and keep the home’s insulation and air sealing barriers intact. They also offer a range of whole house fans that will accommodate the existing attic ventilation for most homes ranging from 750 sq. ft. to 4400 sq. ft.

The key to using a smaller fan effectively is to run it for a longer time so it can remove built-up heat from the home and the attic. Even with a small fan, however, homeowners need to understand the importance of opening windows to prevent backdrafting.

Whole-house fans have been around for decades and for many homeowners they are a great alternative to expensive air conditioning for cooling their home.

To learn more about the benefits of Comfort Cool whole house fans please visit www.ComfortCoolFans.com

 

 

Comfort Cool vs. Quiet Cool vs. Traditional Whole House Fans

A Comfort Cool whole house fan is modern, powerful and ultra quiet. The fan motors used in Comfort Cool systems are acoustically designed and precision balanced. These high efficient fans are made of composite materials with wing tip design for increased performance and efficiency.

Adding to Comfort Cools remarkably quiet operation is the acoustical and heat resistant ductwork. This specialty ductwork not only dampens the noise of rushing air but also absorbs vibration, allowing the system to quietly operate even while you sleep.

Other whole house fan manufactures like Quiet Cool typically use an open face motor with exposed electrical windings, which allows dirt and debris to plug the motor causing it to over heat, and prematurely fail. They also use cheaply made unbalanced fan blades which over time, can cause the fan to become unstable and very noisy.

While traditional or older style whole house fans consists of large louvered shutters that can rattle, squeak and vibrate, Comfort Cool systems use an industrial grade damper and high airflow grill, which not only looks attractive but allows for 30% more airflow compared to standard return air grills.

The cost to operate a Comfort Cool whole house fan is just pennies an hour making it one of the most energy efficient upgrades you can make to your home. To learn about the differences between Comfort Cool, Quiet Cool and traditional whole house fans watch the following video by clicking A Better Whole House Fan

How To Use A Whole House Fan During A Heat Wave

In Southern California we are currently experiencing a heat wave, which is typical for the month of August. Our daytime temperatures are reaching 90 to 100 degrees and the temperatures during the late evening and early night are not much cooler thanks to the high pressure system. At about 9:00 PM the outside temperature was 84 degrees, definitely not a good time to use a whole house fan. This was one of the nights I was grateful for air conditioning.

In the morning, however, at about 6:00 AM the outside temperature was 68 degrees. Although some may think, “why would I use my whole house fan when my home is already cool from running the air conditioner”, the reason is quite simple. Even though the temperature inside the home may be cool, the temperature in the attic and walls are not. They retained the heat from the day before and the temperatures in those spaces could be well above 100 degrees. As a result, unless that heat is removed it will radiate into the home, quickly heating up the living space. It’s for this reason that I want to run my whole house fan.

At 6:00 in the morning I turned on the whole house fan and ran it for about an hour, making sure that the temperature outside never exceeded the indoor temperature. I then turned off the whole house fan and closed the windows. My entire home (living space, walls and attic) where now cool and comfortable, delaying the need for air conditioning.

While I heard some of my neighbors air conditioners turn on as early as 9:00 this morning, I knew I wouldn’t have to run mine until much later, significantly saving on my cooling bills!

Although a whole house fan is not designed to eliminate the need for air conditioning, it can help reduce the need for it, even during a heat wave.

How to operate a whole house fan

Tired of high air conditioning bills? One way to reduce your cooling costs is by using a modern whole house fan to cool your home in the spring and summer. Unlike an air conditioner, a whole-house fan fits in the attic of a home and exhausts the hot air out of the structure by replacing it with cool fresh outside air. Because whole-house fans use a fraction of the energy of an air conditioning unit, they are an extremely efficient way to cool down a home. While whole-house fans are pretty straightforward to use, there are a few tips that can help a homeowner get the maximum benefit from operating the fan. Here’s a few tips that can help you use your whole-house fan for maximum results. Operate the whole house fan when the exterior temperatures are at least 8 to 10 degrees cooler than inside.  Since whole-house fans replace the hot, stale air inside the home with cooler outside air; it doesn’t make sense to operate the fan when it’s humid and the temperatures are warm outside. For best results, run the whole house fan in the evening, at night or early morning while it’s still cool outside. In the morning when the interior temperature is cool, shut off the fan and close up the house for the day.

When operating the fan open several windows. Since the suction from a whole-house fan is powerful, it’s best to open several windows when the fan is operating. Not opening enough windows means that instead of drawing in cool fresh outside air, the fan will draw air from the chimney.

Open upstairs windows. For homes that are multi-storied, the upstairs area can be much hotter than downstairs. To solve this problem, open just the upstairs windows. This will allow you to exhaust the heat from the upper level of the home.

Check the exterior vents periodically for obstructions.
The air pulled in by a whole house fan exhausts into the attic and out the attic vents. If your whole-house fan doesn’t seem to be exhausting properly, make sure you have sufficient attic ventilation and that leaves or other obstructions are not blocking your vents.

Electricity rates will be going up across California

Dec 7, 2015 – Warning: You’ll want to avoid turning on the air conditioner at the height of the afternoon heat.

How you’re billed for electricity is going to change, and in ways that are expected to lessen loads for big users, increase loads for light users, and charge everyone more for using power at peak times.

The California Public Utilities Commission’s new “cost-based” rate structure has been years in the making, and will affect just about everyone in the Golden State. The CPUC will hold a community forum at 6 tonight in the Santa Ana City Hall’s council chambers, 20 Civic Center Plaza, to explain these “significant changes” to consumers.

It’s part of a massive public outreach effort. The CPUC decided in July to transition residential electricity rates “to a more effective and cost-based structure, empowering consumers with more opportunities to conserve, and promoting resource optimization and grid reliability,” in its own words.

The changes include not only charging more for power at peak demand times beginning in 2019, but also reducing the myriad tier rates to only two.

These are the first major changes to how electricity is billed since the chaos of rolling brownouts in 2001.

“Rate reform is necessary to move us into a future where consumers have the tools they need to manage their own energy use, and can install new, clean technologies,” said CPUC President Michael Picker said after the decision was made in July. “The world has changed since 2001, when rates were frozen by the Legislature.”

With lower-tier rates frozen, the rate structure “departed increasingly from any cost basis” as time passed, “and imposed ever greater inequities on large-family households that were pushed into higher tiers in hot climate zones,” Picker said. “Our decision helps align rates with the actual cost of service.

It also builds a more nimble rate structure to allow us to add more and more renewables to the grid, and to encourage customers to use energy when we have excess renewables and to cut back during peak periods.”

While many applaud an emphasis on renewables such as solar and wind power, consumer advocates say the CPUC’s new rate structure is unfair.

Flattening rates and adding fixed charges will primarily benefit higher usage customers, the Utility Reform Network has said.

It means higher bills for about 75 percent of customers, and it will send the vast majority of rate reductions to the top 5 percent of users, who have significantly higher incomes and far more discretion over when they use power, TURN says.

The preceding was published in the OC Register Dec. 7, 2015

Rate Hike Coming To Your Electric Bill

July 4, 2015: Most residential customers in California will see their electricity bills increase under a new rate structure passed Friday by state regulators.

The Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved a plan that raises rates on more efficient users while giving a break to big energy users.

It is the first overhaul of the rate system since brownouts roiled California 15 years ago. Legislators at the time expanded rate-paying tiers from two to four and froze lowest-tier rates to protect households from huge swings in energy bills.

The new proposal calls for a return to two tiers, plus a surcharge for the highest electricity users. The rate structure would impact 75 percent of California’s residential customers, or more than 10 million electricity accounts held through Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and San Diego Gas & Electric Co.

Utilities have long complained that the steeply-tiered system means higher-use households have unfairly subsidized low-use households for years. They say that the gap has only increased, with low-use households not even paying for the cost of supplying electricity.

“We’re trying to make things more affordable for those upper-use customers because they are paying far more than their share,” said Russ Garwacki, director of pricing design and research at Southern California Edison, which serves 14 million people through 5 million accounts. “It’s a matter of fairness.”

Environmental and consumer advocates disagree, saying that the current tier structure promotes energy conservation. They criticized the PUC for presenting a revised proposal late Wednesday and voting Friday, which is a federal holiday, although not a state holiday.

“This is really the utilities versus everybody else,” said Evan Gillespie, a campaign director for Sierra Club California, said earlier in the week. “There was a very, very clear choice on which way to go.”

In 2000, California’s energy crisis prompted lawmakers to put in protections. In 2013, state lawmakers lifted many of those restrictions, allowing utilities to propose new rates.

Ratepayer groups have been lobbying for a three-tier rate system proposed by PUC Commissioner Mike Florio. That item was on Friday’s agenda, but Florio publicly supported a revised version of a two-tier system preferred by utilities and PUC President Michael Picker.

Mike Campbell, program director of the Office of Ratepayer Advocates, said he did not have an analysis of the new proposal, but he expected the majority of customers will see their bills increase.

The compromise plan called for a 25 percent price differential between the two tiers by 2019. The alternate called for a 33 percent difference among three tiers. The original plan by Picker called for a 20 percent difference.

The above article was posted July 4, 2015 in the OC Register

Ways to save with a whole house fan

Cool your home with a whole-house fan

Why? A whole house fan can help keep you comfortable in the summer for about 10% to 20% of the cost of central air conditioning during certain times of the day. It works by pulling cool air into your home and pushing warm air out.

Where to install: Typically the fan is installed in your attic above the ceiling in a hallway.

How to maximize your savings:

Run your whole-house fan when the outside air temperature is cooler than the temperature inside your home.

Don’t run your whole-house fan and central air conditioner at the same time. Instead, use them at different times to help them both run more efficiently.

If your house has been closed all day and is full of hot air, run the whole-house fan first to push out the hot air. Then use your central air conditioner to create cooler air, if needed. In some cases, you may not need the air conditioning.

Instead of using air conditioning, run the whole house fan at night, when outdoor air is coolest.

Avoid using whole-house fans when the outside air is hot. Fans used during this period only draw hot, humid air into the house, increasing heat buildup and offsetting the wind chill factor.

Choosing a contractor: Find a professional with plenty of experience.

The preceding information was published at PG&E My Energy 

Utility Rate Increase

6/18/2014: Utility Rate Increase – Southern California Edison’s almost 5 million customers can expect to see an increase of on their July 2014 monthly electricity bill, officials with the utility said Wednesday at a Torrance news briefing.

The state Public Utilities Commission last week approved the utility rate increase, which averages 8 percent for all customers.

About half of Edison’s customers will see an increase in their monthly bill.

Some 50 percent of SCE low-income customers who qualify for California Alternative Rates for Energy — CARE — will also see their utility bills rise but not as much.

Customers can manage their energy usage and monthly bills by calling (800) 798-7723 or visiting www.sce.com/ratechange

Electricity rates will rise again next year if regulators approve an Edison proposal to change the way residential electricity bills are calculated.

The Public Utility Commission is expected to make a decision on the proposal next spring.

Natural Home Cooling – Make Your A/C More Efficient by using a Comfort Cool Whole House Fan

Natural Home Cooling – If you want to make your air conditioning system more energy-efficient, but the cost of replacing and installing an entirely new system is too expensive, you should consider an auxiliary installation that can work in conjunction with your current system. By doing this you can improve the performance without the expense of a total remove and replace project. Whole house fans are one of the best supplemental systems available.

How Whole House Fans Work
 – A whole house fan works by pulling in fresh cool outside air through open windows. At the same time, the hot air in the home gets pushed up and out through the attic vents.

If the temperature outside drops from 85-degrees to 75-degrees in two hours, for example, the air in the house will take about four hours to drop that much. Whole house fans can do the job in less than half that time. Since it pushes air out of the attic, it also cools the attic and reduces heat gain in the house. So by turning on your fan in the cool morning hours, you can bring in comfortable fresh air, then close up the house and avoid the sizzling heat of summer. Turning it on again in the evening ensures all day comfort on all but the very hottest and most humid days.

Advantages of Whole House Fans
 – In milder climates, whole house fans can often eliminate the need for central air-conditioning altogether. Even if you need something more than a whole house fan during the summer, the fan will greatly reduce the stress and need for your current air conditioning system.

Consider a ComfortCool whole house fan – The operating cost of a Comfort Cool whole house fan is only a fraction of what it cost to operate your air conditioner, allowing you to reduce your electricity usage by up to 90 percent. Depending on the size, a Comfort Cool whole house fan draws between 180 and 360 watts of electricity; operating for four cents or less per hour. Therefore, under the right circumstances a Comfort Cool whole house fan can ventilate an entire house on the electricity an air conditioner would use to cool one small room.

Whole House Fan Installation
 – A Comfort Cool whole house fan can be wired into an existing electrical circuit and are designed to go in easily, requiring no framing or cutting of trusses. Most do-it-yourselfers will have no problem installing a Comfort Cool ystem. However, if you prefer to have your whole house fan installation completed by a licensed contractor, you can contact Comfort Cool Fans to both purchase and install your system. Contact Form

For other tips on cooling your home naturally visit – Cooling Your Home Naturally