Homeowners often find themselves looking for home improvements that not only help them save money, but make life easier, as well. If you have an attic that seems hot and musty, you might have thought to yourself, “I wonder if an attic fan would help improve the ventilation up there?” Well, guess what? It can!

What Is an Attic Ventilation Fan? How Do They Work?

What exactly is an attic ventilation fan? The name itself is pretty self-explanatory. An attic ventilation fan helps to prompt circulation in a home by exchanging the stuffy, stagnant attic air with fresh air from outside. This continuous air exchange can provide homeowners with many benefits, specifically decreasing the moisture and heat in the attic.

Why are high attic temps bad?

As outdoor temperatures rise in the warmer months, a home’s attic can become increasingly warmer as heat rises and gets trapped by the roof. Not only does this make your home’s attic warmer, it can also increase the temperature of the entire home, as this trapped heat begins to radiate down throughout the house.

This means that, along with making the climate in your home less comfortable, your air conditioner now has to work even harder to compensate for the warmer air coming from the attic. Making your system work harder increases the maintenance needs and can shorten the lifespan of your system, leading to costly repairs or a full replacement.

Can attic fans help in the winter, too?

Attic fans continue to work during the winter months to keep your home free of extra moisture. When the temperatures begin to drop, your attic ventilation system moves air in the same way as in the warmer months, but for a different purpose. The attic fan works to circulate cold air that seeps in from the outside with the warm air inside your house. This circulation helps to prevent moisture from accumulating which can lead to mold and other issues, like ice damming.

What Types of Attic Ventilation Systems Are There?

When it comes to attic ventilation systems, there are different types that exist all of which have different features. That said, essentially, they all provide the same function of circulating air in your attic. The three most common attic ventilation systems are either roof or gable mounted and powered by electric, solar, or wind-powered turbines.

These systems also have convenient control features, such as time-controlled on/off switches, operating only when it is sunny out, or running based on humidity levels or attic temperatures.

✔️ Electric Attic Fans

Electric attic fans are the most efficient and most common. Typically, these are installed on the roof or gable wall and then hard-wired to your home’s electrical system.

An electric attic fan will be controlled by a thermostat that is set to a certain temperature that tells the system to only kick on when the set temperature is reached. If you have set your attic fan to 95 degrees, the fan will run on automatically when the temperature in the attic reaches that level.

✔️ Solar Attic Fans

Solar attic ventilations systems are similar to electric systems in that they can be roof or gable mounted – only they run off solar energy instead of being hard-wired to your home’s electrical system.

These systems operate via integrated solar panels and typically do not use a thermostat, but rather, run continuously (as long as the sun is shining). If you are considering a solar powered attic fan, it is important to consider how much unobstructed sunlight is available in your home’s attic location to ensure adequate power to operate your unit. 

✔️ Wind-Powered Turbines

Wind-powered turbines have been a low-cost option available to homeowners for quite some time. Also known as whirlybirds, these metal, rooftop mounted fans that spin with the wind are passive in nature since they are solely powered by the wind. However, they’re still effective at circulating air in your attic without increasing your electric bill or adding costly solar panels.

Do I Need An Attic Fan?

If you are contemplating adding an attic fan to your home, there are a few things you should consider such as the difference in air temperature between your home and the attic, location and direct sun exposure if considering solar, how well your attic is insulated, and whether the advantages outweigh the potential disadvantages for you and your home. 

Advantages of an Attic Fan

  • Attic fans increase your home’s energy efficiency by ensuring your air conditioner isn’t having to work as hard to cool your home.
  • If you have a two-story home, the second story will feel cooler than it previously did without the attic fan.
  • Attic fans help to decrease the chance of moisture and condensation sitting under your roof – which can lead to deterioration and costly repairs.
  • Attic fans provide a means for decreasing heat and humidity in your attic, which can help to extend the life of your insulation.
  • If you are able to choose a solar powered option, you can reap the benefits of this system without adding to your monthly bills, once the initial installation is paid for.

Disadvantages of an Attic Fan

  • Choosing an electric fan adds to the amount of energy your home consumes and, therefore, may increase your monthly utility bills. Depending on what your current electricity use rates are, you may not see a huge savings.
  • Attic fans provide the most efficiency when they are installed properly and when your attic is properly sealed. If your fan system is not installed properly or the attic is poorly insulated, you can experience costly repairs to fix any leaks that arise.
  • An attic fan isn’t meant to cool your entire house and will not replace the need to have a properly installed and working HVAC unit.

We Can Help You Out Soon

Attic fans can be a great addition to your home and HVAC system, and will help to provide a more comfortable and enjoyable living space. If you are considering adding an attic fan to your home, call our professionals at 615-654-0814 to discuss your options. We can also be reached online – thanks for choosing us.