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Whole House Fan Savings

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Whole House Fan Savings

We were able to buy this house because the first person who tried backed out of her deal when she found out it did not have a working heat pump. When we got a quote, we found out it would cost us $5,000-10,000 to get a new system installed. Talk about sticker shock, but we knew it wouldn’t be cheap.

I was okay with owning a house without a heat pump. I grew up in a home without one – my parents didn’t install one until I was away at college (isn’t that how it always works?). I also grew up with a wood stove as our primary heat source and I LOVED IT. After 7 years at the townhouse with a heat pump, I had determined I was not a big fan of a heat pump. The air coming out of it always seemed cold and I could never warm up. I missed the wood stove.

Barry, however, grew up with one and felt like we needed it to regulate the air inside the house – not to make it super cold or super hot, but just make it livable. So, we began to save up for the heat pump. It took us about 3 ½ months. It was actually installed when I was in the hospital with Andy.

Image by  Giles Douglas

Image by Giles Douglas

I will admit, when 8 months pregnant it’s difficult to live in 90+ degree temperatures in your house. It got hot…and I sweat…a lot. And so, we saved.

In the meantime, Barry’s wonderful aunt got us a housewarming present – a whole house fan. Barry had heard of them and was impressed. I had never heard of them, but I wanted one after he sang their praises.

So, basically it’s a big fan you install in the ceiling in the center of your house. It has attic access. It’s VERY strong. So, you turn on the fan and open the windows. It gives a good breeze all through the house when the temperature allows. Its purpose is to pull in the cooler air from outside the house, forcing the hotter air up into the attic and out roof vents. Make sense?

In other words, when it is cooler outside than inside, open the windows and turn on the house fan. Instant relief. It is AMAZING!  I love you, whole house fan!

Image by Editor B

Image by Editor B

So, guess what? These fans are a very good way to save money on the cooling in your home. It can save the average family $300 a year in electric bills. Considering a normal fan of this nature costs about $250-400 plus installation, that’s a good return on your money.

How is that? In the morning or at night when it cools down, you turn on the house fan. It brings the cool air in – you run it 15-30 minutes to cool off the inside temperature. This means you’re not relying on a heat pump to do the work.

A house fan is usually used alongside a heat pump – using the heat pump when it’s hot inside and out and you can’t rely on the fan. BUT, you’ll use your heat pump a lot less if you also use the house fan, relying on the whole house fan when it cools down outside.

A whole house fan is more energy efficient because it’s just ONE fan with a small motor – and the air outside is free. 😉

whole house fan savings

Most new house fans are MUCH quieter than they used to be. Mine doesn’t bother me at all – and it’s only on for a short amount of time. Well worth the payoff. :-)  The one we purchased uses a direct drive motor which is a bit noisier than some alternatives, but still not an issue.

NOTE – In the winter, you will need to install a fan cover (usually from the attic side) so that your heat does not escape through the fan into the attic.

Yep – I could have done without that heat pump. 😉 Especially since a chimney sweep came and fixed our chimney up for the winter. I’m all set and ready to go!

So – you might consider installing a whole house fan this summer for your home…it will pay off.

Comment Policy: I love hearing your thoughts and input on what I write. Since I write about what works at my house, what pleases my handsome hubby and darling children; I'm sure we'll disagree sometimes. In those cases, do what's right for you and yours. As with any form of communication, please only post comments that move the discussion in a positive direction.

About Stacy

Stacy is the author of Crock On: A Semi-Whole Foods Slow Cooker Cookbook and Keep Crockin': A Poorganic Slow Cooker Cookbook, and a stay-at-home and homeschooling mom to her three children, Annie (June 2009), Andy (August 2012) and Eli (September 2014). After an “awakening” in March 2011, her family switched to a more natural, whole foods diet. She likes to blog about how to live on less than you make and how to eat good food while doing it. Her passion is teaching others how to save money and she tag teams with her husband in this endeavor. At Stacy Makes Cents you’ll find information on how to save money in the kitchen, how to have fun with your kids, and how to be thrifty in all areas of life. Her passion is teaching others how to live debt free. Make sure to follow her on Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest and more to keep up with her daily antics.


  1. A lot of people have those around here. I hear you on the 90 plus days, it has been in the middle 90’s with nasty humidity for weeks here. I hate summer :)

  2. When we built our home in the early ’80’s, my dad gave us a what we call an attic fan (same thing you refer to in your post). We were so excited about it. However, it seemed every time we used it, our daughter got sick. The doctor advised us to close the windows to the outside elements that were being pulled into the house. The fan also makes the house much more dusty, so . . . there it (the fan) sits in the ceiling. The only time I ever use it is if I burn something in the kitchen and need to pull the smoke out of the house.

  3. I grew up on a farm & we had no air conditioner or attic fan, that’s what we call them her in the mid-west. I remember using a box fan in my bedroom window at night to try & cool off! My grandparents had an attic fan & it did really make a big difference at night.
    I am now spoiled as we do have central air, but we live in a old farm house & the upstairs gets pretty warm this time of year. We have a small window AC in our kids room which is right next to the attic. We are hoping to install an attic fan soon so we can stop paying such high electric bills.
    We do heat with wood, our propane furnace for a back up. My husband purchased a used outdoor wood furnace at an auction about 4yrs. ago & we love it! We have a lifetime supply of trees to use for wood so it was a winner for us! Propane is so expensive & we have saved a lot of $ over the past 4 years!

  4. Cynthia Combest says:

    I agree with you completely. I grew up with a whole house fan and loved it. I really cooled and refreshed the house. Thank you!

  5. I grew up in a house with no heat pump or A/C, too. We didn’t have an attic fan, either. I can remember some REALLY miserable summers. We had a wood/coal stove for heat in the winter and small fans for the summer. The fans didn’t do much, though.

    Me: Why can’t we get air conditioning like everyone else?
    Parent: Just turn a fan on
    Me: But the fan just blows around the hot air
    Parent: Then don’t use the fan

    End of conversation. :)

    I do miss the wood stove, though. It was really cozy in the wintertime.

  6. Lola Carter says:

    I too am a huge fan of the whole house fan (no pun intended). Also a fan of swamp coolers – we live in Colorado where it s quite dry and can get very hot in the summer. So use the attic fan at night to cool things off and bring in that cool evening air and the swamp cooler in the day time when it is hot and dry outside. So much cheaper than AC. Attic fan is also useful when you have the carpets cleaned and want to dry them out faster – pulls the moisture right out. I also admit to using the attic fan when I burn things on the stove – guilty as charged.

  7. We just reciently purchased a home and I had no idea what that was in our attic. Thank you!

  8. I say anyone who can do this should! We cannot open our windows, EVER! Where we live thre are black widows everywhere and you cannot ever really get rid of them. They do not react to most sprays. We tried every company and every brand. Only Venom brand works and only for 2 weeks and it’s expensive! I miss opening my windows, i always had them open in our other house. Anyways, those black widows can squeeze in between the tiniest of cracks in any screen. I don’t know how they get thru, but they do. :(

  9. thanks for this article, i never heard of such an invention…i will look into this we don’t have AC so this might do the trick can any one say heat wave? Not to mention i am hoping that we can discipline ourselves and save up for a woodstove by this fall which this whole house fan might help circulate the heat? very cool! ha get it cool? anyway thanks for the post :)

  10. Heidi P says:

    Love it! One of the things on our “want” list is an attic fan. I’m not sure if it’s the same thing, but as my husband (the brilliant engineer) explains it to me this will pull the hot air out of our attic and keep our attic cooler. Since we live in Phoenix, AZ (I’ve been here since my freshman year of college in 1994 and am still having palpitations at this weekend’s forecast) we’ll do anything we can to keep any part of the house cooler :)

  11. Kristine A says:

    We have an attic fan and love it. I grew up with one and when we bought our current house I was very excited to see that it had one. I live in Michigan and It seems that not many home have them anymore….but I can’t imagine not having one! Enjoy your new fan!

  12. Susancnw says:

    That is what I adored about our last house…a whole house fan. We are hoping to move into a house of our own this fall & if there is not a house fan, we’ll see if we can put one in…we live in CO and except for a few weeks in the summer when we need A/C…we use the fan the rest of the time. It is WONDERFUL!

  13. When we had our house built, we had them install a whole house fan. It is in the ceiling of the second floor, so it pulls in the cool air in order to cool the attic. Thus the whole house is cooler. We haven’t used the air conditioner once so far this summer. It’s been in the low 90’s here in central Ohio and we normally don’t get that hot until July and August. We also have an outdoor wood stove/boiler for heat with a propane furnace as back up.

  14. This was how we survived without AC – it was so awesome when pregnant. LOL

  15. I think your comment made me cry. LOL

  16. You’re welcome!

  17. I never burn things. LOL LOL Oh my…that made me laugh.

  18. LOL That made me laugh. :-)

  19. I pretty much love it.

  20. We used box fans in the window when I was growing up too! :-)

  21. Well, at least you get to use it for that right? :-) I burn stuff a lot. Ha!

  22. Summer isn’t my fave. Spring yes. Winter no. Fall yes.

  23. Yes! My whole house fan is running as I type this, and the cool evening air is pouring in the windows. I grew up with one of these, but most people (at least in SoCal) don’t seem to know about them. My husband was skeptical at first, but agreed to install one a few years ago. Now he’s a firm believer. :)

  24. Oh, how I wish we could use those here. Sadly, they aren’t recommended for our climate, as the heat loss in the winter (when it gets down to -40) is greater than the savings in the summer. I run the furnace fan constantly to get the cool air out of the basement, and we each have a fan in our bedrooms…I try to avoid using our a/c as much as possible. Unfortunately the humidity usually does me in (we caved and turned on the AC last night, humidity has been at 100% for three days, just to dry the place out!)

    • Heat loss? We have a cover for ours in the winter that goes over it in the attic so there isn’t any heat loss that way.

      • When I looked in to them none of the covers were well insulated (even our attic doors are insulated up here!) I really don’t know why anyone lives up here! -15F to -40F (yes, those are minus numbers) is for the birds *g*

  25. Well, that might explain it. Barry made ours. :-)

  26. You mentioned quiet and this is so important. If you don’t use the newer quiet fans, you cannot run the fans at night when you sleep! We installed several of the Quiet Cool Fans in our 3,800 sq foot home and we LOVE them!

  27. Mischelle Millwee says:

    LOL, I’m pretty sure I had that exact conversation with my parents as a child :-)

  28. I think this might be the first time I’ve commented on your blog, but I’ve been reading for probably a year. I’m an East Tennessean (my mother-in-law introduced me to your blog) living in Northern California. I had never heard of a house fan until we moved here. In the summer, most nights bring the Delta Breeze in from the coast, so we turn on our fan, and the house cools almost immediately. We run it again in the morning to get the house as cool as possible so we can keep the air conditioner off as long as possible. We will definitely install one in any future house. So worth it! Thanks for writing such a great blog and for making me homesick in a good way. :)

  29. Thanks for much for commenting, Nicole!!! :-) I’m glad to meet you.
    I am unfamiliar with the Delta Breeze but it sounds heavenly.

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