Simple Home Cooling Methods to Save Money

Home cooling doesn't necessarily require air conditioning. Energy-efficient ceiling, attic fans, and whole-house fans can get the job done and save money.

| August/September 2009

solar attic fan

A solar-powered attic fan assists with home cooling by pulling hot air out of the attic, either through a roof vent or a gable vent. A photovoltaic panel saves money by generating electricity for the fan.


Fans of various type are one of the simplest ways to achieve home cooling during the summer. In addition to promoting air flow, which makes us feel cooler, properly located fans can purge heat from a house and draw in cool outside air. Moreover, fans use less energy than central air conditioners and evaporative coolers, and are less expensive to install. By reducing or eliminating the need to use air conditioning, fans save money through dramatically lower utility bills.

Follow these links for information on specific fan types:
Use a Ceiling Fan for Simple, Efficient Cooling
Cooling Your Home With a Solar Attic Fan
Whole-house Fans: Easy, Low-cost Cooling 

What Will You Save?

A regular attic fan uses electricity, but saves about 10 percent on air conditioning costs by keeping your attic (and, as a result, the living space below it) cooler. Solar-powered attic fans have a higher initial cost.

A ceiling or portable floor fan will cut your energy costs if you have central air conditioning — if you raise the thermostat setting. For every degree you turn it up, you will cut 7 to 10 percent from your cooling costs.

Using a whole-house fan — instead of air conditioning — when the temperature cools off in the evening and early morning hours can save significantly on energy costs. Not only does a whole-house fan cost less to run than air conditioning, but it can cool a house down in just a few minutes, after the outside air temperature has decreased.

What Will it Cost?

Ceiling and Attic Fans
Cost Estimate: Installation of two ceiling fans and two solar attic fans, controls and wiring.

6/21/2013 5:57:08 PM

Word of caution. Attic fans can create a negative air pressure in an attic that can draw cool conditioned air out of the house. Also remember fans cool people not rooms so turn th fan off when the room is unoccupied. In the hot and humid south whole house fans draw moist air into a house that loads the central air conditioning system when it is turned on the next day not to mention it can make you feel sticky and clammy.

manfred addleman
8/5/2011 8:41:44 AM

I think Price is high if you do your self most of MHN surcribes will probley do it ther self

karl u
7/15/2009 5:12:09 AM

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b knight
7/13/2009 8:22:54 AM

Not only stack effect, but consider wind direction - open windows based on the natural direction of the breeze, to allow it to enter and exit the house. Fans are great. A fan in the bedroom, set to a grentle breeze really helps. If you are in an area with "dry air" you can also try a simple evaporative or swamp cooler - much cheaper than air conditioning. Here's some more info on swamp coolers.. .. you'll need "dry" air in your house for one of these things to work. A handyman special would be a block of ice placed in front of a small fan, blowing in your direction.

bob robblee
7/11/2009 8:56:04 AM

We have a 2 story home which has a basement which is situated at 3300 ft. above sea level in Alberta. We use the stack effect to cool the house in summer, add fans as needed as the temperature rises. Generally, we will only have about 2 weeks of weather which is warm throughout the night. During those times, we open the fan compartment on the forced air furnace which is in the basement and run it to cool the house. The basement has screened openings to provide sufficient air intake. If the evening cools off, we can lower the temperature in the house to 68 degrees in about an hour. Most forced air furnaces have the option to run the fan for cooling which would be an aid in areas that have cooler nights.

david arthuer
7/10/2009 2:47:18 PM

These are all great ideas, but don't forget the simplest and completely free method of cooling a home...stack effect ventilation. If you have a multi-story home, open the windows on the top floor where you want the greatest air movement, such as bedrooms. On the the lowest level of your house (preferably a basement), open windows on the shaded exposure. The coolest air will be drawn in and up into the living space of your home as the hottest air vents out the highest and hottest portion of your home. Fans can be used to work with this natural air movement. You may need to adjust which windows are open as the sun moves from one exposure to the next, but this can be a very effective method of cooling. Dave Arthur, LEED-AP Webmaster,

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