What is that thing on the ceiling? It’s a whole house fan!

When I show homes in and around San Jose, often I will see things that my buyers don’t recognize and I will take that as an opportunity to educate them on some of the components of a house, townhouse or condo.  (The strangest question along these lines I ever got was when a Silicon Valley first time home buyer had never noticed or recognized antennae on houses before and wondered what they were!)

whole house fanA whole house fan is a more affordable way to cool down a residence. How does it work?  In the evening, when the outside air temperature is lower than the indoors temps, windows are opened and the whole house fan is turned on for about 15 minutes.  The fan sucks all of the hot air out of the house and discharges it outside.  Since the windows, and maybe doors, are open, this vacuum sucks in the cooler night air.

This is a lot cheaper than air conditioning to install and also to run. According to one whole house fan installation website “installing a Whole House Fan is approximately 25% the cost of installing an air conditioning system and approximately 10% the cost to run.”

Alternatively, of course, if you do not want to have A/C, or if you don’t want to run the air conditioning every time it’s a little too warm, you can pull out fans for the windows and doors in your home and run them in the evenings to pull in the cooler night air.  But the whole house fan is easy and convenient – you simply turn a switch on and off – and is considered a very nice home improvement.

Whole house fans have been gaining in popularity across all types of markets, even among luxury homes, since they are more energy efficient and eco-friendly than air conditioning.  The only thing you might not know that’s important to understand upfront is that when it’s running, the noise is very loud.  Luckily it only goes for a few minutes – a perfect opportunity to step out onto your back porch and enjoy the cool evening air while it runs.