Tip of the Day: Cool your home with a whole-house fan

Consumer Reports News: May 21, 2010 09:35 AM

A whole-house fan could save you money.

Whole-house fans pull in cool air from open windows and doors and exhaust warm/hot air through the attic and roof. They're ideal if you live in an area with typically low humidity levels and nighttime temperatures below 75°F during the summer. (The illustration from the U.S. Department of Energy shows how these fans work.) These fans cost significantly less to operate than air conditioner.

Prices range from $200 to $800, and it's best to hire a pro to do the installation. You might be able to get a rebate for installing a whole-house fan, so contact your utility company to find out about any offers.

We recommend you choose a large-capacity fan, which will make less noise running at a low speed than a small fan will operating at high speed. Be sure the contractor installs the fan with rubber or felt gaskets to dampen noise.

Whole-house fans require an opening between the living space and the attic, but that opening can allow cold air to infiltrate your living space in cold-weather months. So install an airtight insulated cover over the opening to prevent heat loss and keep your heating bills from skyrocketing.

Get more details on whole-house fans from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Essential information: Use our buyer's guide to air conditioning and read up on portable air conditioners, split-ductless cooling systems, and ceiling fans. And find out how to keep cool for less this summer

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