HVAC

Published on December 17th, 2012 | by Henri

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Whole-house fan instead of AC?

Q.  Last summer I bought a craftsman style house. The third floor has living space including a bedroom and full bath, plus attic space with two windows. There is no air-conditioning in the house. In my previous home (a 1922 side entrance colonial) I installed central AC and I was quite happy with it for 17 years. I thought of doing this here as well.

However, I have second thoughts about it. I am thinking that an attic fan (whole house fan) might be a solution to circulate air throughout the house. And maybe a couple of ceiling fans in the bedrooms. I don’t like the idea of window units. I am looking for an opinion on this and pros and cons for installing the attic fan versus installing central AC.

A. I hesitate to recommend a fixed whole-house fan in a ceiling because there is seldom enough exhaust outlet out of the roof and gables for such a fan’s capacity. It also needs to be insulated for winter to prevent heat loss into the attic and cold air shooting down through it, unless you choose the Tamarack Technologies’s HV1600-GDR Whole House Ventilator, which has double motorized R-38 doors: www.tamtech.com.

If the fan is installed in a gable wall, the louvered ceiling panel through which the house air is drawn into the attic will also need to be insulated in winter for the same reason. But a large window fan installed in one of the storage attic windows, or one in each window, would do a good job of keeping you cool as long as you opened one or two selected windows on opposite sides of the house. These fans are light enough to handle so they are easy to put up and take down seasonally and the window can still be operated as needed.

But this will only help cool the house when the outdoor temperature is cooler than the indoor one.

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