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Whole House Fans for Apartments

Cooling a home can be difficult, but if you live in an apartment, you face many restrictions to how you can keep the living space comfortable.

Whole house fans, for example, are used extensively to keep a home cool and comfortable, but they can be hard to use if you live in an apartment. Fortunately, there are ways to use whole-house fans, increase ventilation, and cool your apartment efficiently.

For most people, cooling a house means using the air conditioner. Simply set the thermostat to the exact temperature you desire and let the air conditioner do its magic, providing cool, comfortable air at the mere turn of a dial.

There is, however, a significant downside to air conditioning: energy use. The harsh reality is that when we use the air conditioner, even at higher temperatures, we are using a lot of electricity.

According to an article from Sears Heating and Cooling, it will cost roughly $150 a month to run your A/C ten hours a day. If you keep your A/C on continually, the cost will obviously go even higher.

To combat the high costs of air conditioning, many homeowners turn to fans, including whole house fans, which provide reliable cooling and ventilation when the outside air is warm but not oppressively hot. Whole house fans are usually installed in the ceiling between the top floor and the attic, giving the entire home a cool circulation of air.

For apartment residents, however, a whole house fan is not so simple. You don’t have an attic above you, you have another apartment. How could you possible cool your home without an A/C unit?

As you’ll see, there are creative ways to cool your home in an affordable, eco-friendly manner, and whole-house fans are not entirely out of the picture.



Understanding Whole House Fans

Whole house fans don’t change the temperature of the air like an air conditioner, but instead move air like any other fan. Air movement creates a cooling sensation, making the air feel cooler, and actually cooling the skin, through a process of heat exchange between you and the moving air.

Whole house fans create this cooling breeze in the home. They are installed in a space in the ceiling between the top level of the home and the attic, sucking air from the living space and pushing it into the attic, where it escapes through attic vents. This circulation of air can make the entire home more comfortable in hot weather, although if the air outside is extremely hot, a whole house fan system may not be enough.

Compared to air conditioners, a whole-house fan or attic fan is extremely energy-efficient. According to, a whole house fan uses a whopping 90% less energy than an air conditioner. That represents a massive amount of savings in a single year and could reduce the $150 utility bill that we cited above to a paltry $15. ($150 - 90% = $15)

Using a whole-house fan in your apartment can also improve the indoor air quality by bringing in fresh air from the outside. This gives you energy efficiency without sacrificing a comfortable home. Energy-efficient fans are a wise choice, even in apartments.


Can a Whole-House Fan Be Installed in an Apartment?

As we described above, whole-house fans are generally installed in a hole in the ceiling between the top level of the home and the attic, creating more air flow. Apartments, however, are structured differently, with another living space above your home. This means installing a whole-house fan or an attic fan in the traditional method is virtually impossible unless you have a top story unit and are able to vent your hot air into an attic-type space.

However, you can still use a whole-house fan to cool your apartment, but you need to make creative changes to where the fan is placed.

Instead of having the fan placed in the ceiling, you may be able to install into a wall, which will bring cool air into the home from the outside, provided this wall will vent to the outside.

Another option is to use a window fan. If you open windows on one side of the house, then place a window fan on the other side, you will create a cooling breeze that gives you more comfort throughout your entire living space. To replicate the same effect of having the fan in the ceiling, blowing into the attic, position the fan so it is blowing outward. This will mean that air is being gently pulled in through the open windows on one side of the apartment and forced out on the other.



Move Cool Air from One Room to Another

Whole-house fans are an efficient and effective way to have cool air in your apartment, but if you want to get the most from your fan, you have to make sure that cool air from your fan gets from one room to another. This is especially important if you have a large apartment. Measuring your square footage is a good first step.

One way to increase air flow is to use box fans and floor fans throughout the home. If you have the whole house fan in one room, place a floor fan in the entryway of that room, pointing so that it moves air into the room and out through the whole-house fan. This will help increase the flow of air from adjoining rooms into the room with the whole-house fan.

Another important tip for moving air from one room to the other is to decrease the amount of clutter in your home, especially large furniture that blocks the smooth flow of air. Think of how water moves through a river; if the river is not dammed and not blocked by obstructions, the water will move smoothly downstream. However, if the water is blocked, you current is slowed and water movement is restricted. The same principle (with obvious differences) applies to air flow. If you want the air to flow smoothly, try to keep the space free of obstructions. Avoid using large bookshelves, tables, and furniture near areas where air needs to move smoothly, and keep doors open so you have better air flow through the entire apartment.

Whole-house fans are not the only source of cooling for an apartment. In fact, there are many ways that you can provide cool, comfortable air throughout your entire living space without the high costs of running the air conditioner.

One of the simplest and most affordable ways to keep your home cool is to keep the shades drawn so that sunlight does not enter the home. Yes, sunlight gives your home a happy, welcoming appeal, and drawing the shades can make you feel like a shut-in, but when you keep the sunlight out, you fight against the warming effects of sunlight. Think of how sunlight quickly warms a closed car in the summer; the same effect takes place when sunlight enters a closed home. If you are running the air conditioner, keeping the shades drawn will ensure you get the most from your energy usage.

If possible, you could also install ceiling fans in your apartment. Ceiling fans give a cooling breeze in specific rooms and help circulate air through the entire home.

Another way to keep your apartment cool is using a portable air conditioner. These units sit on the floor and use an adapter kit to vent hot air through a hose that runs through a window to the exterior. They are easy to use and simple to install, but they can be expensive and use a lot of energy compared to window-unit air conditioners. However, the could be the solution you need for cooling all the rooms in your apartment during time of extreme heat.



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