Warning: This is going to read like a sponsored post. I’m just a “fan” of eco-solutions, and a whole house fan is one of those things that’s a win-win all around (see, it’s starting already).
Only about a third of Seattle households have air conditioning. Before the days of climate change, it really wasn’t necessary. After a couple 90 degree days in June, it’s tempting to give in and get central air conditioning installed, especially since the hottest months (and years) are yet to come.
Unfortunately, central air is very expensive to install and operate, plus all that electricity use isn’t doing any favors for climate change going forward. There is a more affordable and environmentally conscientious solution than central air, and that’s the whole house fan.
Whole house fans hang from the rafters in your attic and are turned on with a timed switch. They silently draw large amounts of air in through open windows, then push the hottest air in your home into the attic and out of your house.
The fans are very powerful, so much so that if you don’t open a window before turning one on your ears will pop as the house depressurizes. Portable fans tend to noisily push hot air around, while a whole house fan silently makes your entire house feel like being in the shade outside with a fresh breeze blowing.
The fans are required by code in much of California and are very well suited to Seattle. Seattle cools off at night thanks to the ocean, and that’s when the fan is most useful. They’re great any time after about 4 or 5 PM, when the outside temperature drops below the inside temperature.
The fans cost anywhere between $300 and $1500, depending on home size and model. You can snag one at Home Depot or Lowes, but for many you have to preorder and pick up in store. To install you’ll need access to your attic and to either pay a handyman or make it a DIY project. The main install requirements are being able to cut a hole in your ceiling and hard wire electricity (a dedicated circuit isn’t needed).
With the fan in place the only time you’ll miss AC is in the afternoon, so you might still need a portable AC unit to create a refuge for those times. Even if you have central air, the fans make sense for cutting down on electricity use and providing ventilation when doing things like painting. If you have attic access and no central air, just get one, you’ll love it! (insert sponsoring affiliate link here)