Summer is the time of year we think about cooling off our homes. Air conditioning is the obvious way to cool your home. But there are other methods to cool your home that can help take the load off of your AC.

Whole House Fans and Attic Fans are very effective if used properly. While they sound similar – they have different functions. Let’s take a look!


As the name implies, a whole house fan, is just that … a fan powerful enough to move air through the whole house. The operation is simple: a fan is installed in the ceiling of the upper floor, venting into your attic. You open basement windows and allow cool air from below to circulate throughout the house and into the attic. It then escapes through roof vents (or an attic fan as described below). This constant circulation of cooler air replacing warmer air, eventually cools down the entire home.

Whole-house fans can be used in many ways. I found two ways to work best. On really hot days, I leave it on low speed 24-hours a day. It keeps temperatures even and helps take stress off the air conditioner.

Another way to use the fan is to run it in the early morning for a few hours, then turn it off while you’re away for the day. Upon returning home, turn it on to exhaust any heat that has built up through the day. Within minutes, your home will have even temps, making it easier to cool with AC. Then turn it off until the sun goes down, when you can then use it to bring in cool night air.


The attic fan is also aptly named, because it’s function is to move air through the attic. Many homes lack adequate attic ventilation. This results in very, very hot attics. Overly hot attics can deteriorate roofing and wood decking while radiating heat back into the home. This excessive heat causes upper floors to be difficult to cool. A properly placed attic fan (high on the roof) will draw air through eaves, then up and out through the fan and other attic venting.

The best attic fans are totally self-contained, thermostatically-controlled, solar units that require no connection to house wiring. You simply secure it to the roof opening, seal it and forget it! It will silently click on and off, as needed, throughout its long multiyear life.