Install A Whole-House Fan As A Cheaper Alternative To Air Conditioning

Install A Whole-House Fan As A Cheaper Alternative To Air Conditioning

If your air conditioning is costing too much this summer, look into a whole-house fan. They cool your home by removing the hot air and exhausting it through windows or soffits in the attic.

By removing the hot air from your home you get the added benefit of air circulation, which aids in preventing indoor air pollution and allergies that can arise from stagnant pollen filled air.

Whole-house fans aren’t cheap, but they can pay for themselves after a couple summers of use, with the money saved from your electric bill. They are easy to install but require cutting a hole in your ceiling and manoeuvring in your attic which can be tricky.

The link to the video below provides a straightforward method for installation which shouldn’t take more than an afternoon.

How to Install a Whole House Fan [This Old House]

Lifehacker’s Workshop column covers DIY tips, techniques and projects.

This story has been updated since its original publication.


  • And the air that’s removed from inside your home is replaced by air from where?

    Either air from the HOT outside, or if it’s airtight the walls are sucked in and your house collapses on you. Neither seems preferable to an aircon.

    • No, that is not how it works. So during the day you run your HVAC to keep the house cool. When it cools off in the evening, there is trapped heat in the walls and attic due to the insulation, it holds hot and cool temps.

      During the cool evening hours, you open a window on the farthest side of the home turn on the Whole House fan, the fan draws cool air from the farthest room, the pressurized air floods the attic and pushes cool air down into the wall insulation.

      If you dont cool off the attic and wall space, the insulation will radiate heat into the home making it warmer. Think of an insulated coffee mug, fill it with hot coffee, dump the coffee, the mug stays warm.

      They are worth every penny

  • By realtively cool ground-level air coming in from under doors. It is mainly for in the mornings and evenings, when the outside air is cooler but the house typically takes hours longer to cool down. Especially effective on two storey houses with gable windows in the atiic space.

    • This is the reason! My stepdad’s AV Jennings house is so hot when it’s 23deg outside and all the windows and doors are kept open. These houses are built so wrongly.

  • Are attics common in Australia? I’ve lived in a half dozen houses in a variety of places and rarely do you even have enough space to get into the ceiling let alone an attic.

    • This really bugs me, if by some miracle i ever manage to build my own house, id be tempted to build an attic, i love the idea of them, hell id even want to install an elevator for it if i were to use it as storage.

    • Attics and cellars are rare in Australia. (in private homes)
      above the plaster ceiling there is a crawl space and sometimes the electric hot water tank is stored there.
      I’m not sure why cellars are built in the US, to store coal and the furnace. Does a modern house need a cellar? Seems to be a northern hemisphere snow thing.
      Possibly american roofs are built at an angle to deflect snow and that creates a handy space under the roof.
      I was also curious as to why bridges have roofs, I was told that the roof protects the timber bridge deck from the elements. Seems a typical wooden bridge is not as durable in US winters.

  • I am lucky enough to be in a house that has a lot of screened windows and doors in the main room so just having them open cools the place down, sometimes I need the ceiling fan on, and rarely do I need the aircon on. The bedrooms are another story with only one window in each and a ceiling fan, except for my room I have a sliding door that lets a lot of cool air in

  • Isn’t this just an exhaust fan like what you have in the bathroom, only bigger? So why is it $1700, or $6000 for a CardiffAir one? Bathroom exhaust fans are at Bunnings for $40.

    • Using your comparison is like asking why wouldnt a home desk fan be good enough to propell a plane. Whole House fans move thousands of cubic feet of air.

  • Yes I think the technical concept of this whole house fan works similarly to an exhaust fan you can find in the bathroom. However, the huge difference in price would be because of its bulky size and its function which involves the entire house. My attic is used for storage so it gets easier to install things there.

  • Not many houses in Australia have an attic, but they do usually have a roofspace. My roofspace is much much hotter than the rooms below because there is insulation above the ceiling. I have been told that a venting system in the roof to allow or forcefully eject this trapped air is very effective. There are systems that do the reverse in winter by filtering and pushing this warmer air into the house, but they are fairly expensive.

  • Otherwise known as an evaporative air conditioner, as seen in many houses in Western Australia.
    They work on the principle of sucking in outside air through a box mounted on the roof, then dragging the air through water soaked pads in the unit, which through evaporation, cools the air. Finally, using the same fan, pumping the cooled air through the house via ducting and outlets in each room.
    For it to work correctly, as it works using positive pressure, the windows must be open to allow the air to circulate and escape, otherwise the moisture will build up causing your curtains and clothes to go mouldy.
    An added bonus, if you’re like me and use the smoke detector as a cooking timer, you can turn on the system in reverse and suck the smells out, or otherwise turn it on normally and pump the smells out of the windows.
    Unfortunately they aren’t too good in humid conditions, as they create humid air themselves, but great in our Perth climate where it’s very dry in summer (mostly).

  • Hey Editors, maybe when you were De-Americanising this article maybe you should have mentioned that Attics are rare in Australian houses and these may not be suitable for Australian Summers and linked to an American show about them. Maybe an Australian source would have been better. Here’s one after 5 second of googling.

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