Most homeowners are aware of the importance of energy efficiency. Not only is having an efficient home better for the environment, but it is also better for your wallet. Research shows that the most substantial portion of energy bills can be attributed to heating and cooling a home. Unfortunately, while you may be aware of shopping for efficient appliances and taking other steps to improve your energy efficiency, you may not be aware of the impact your attic ventilation could have on your energy consumption. Attic ventilation systems may seem like an extravagance when you want to decrease your spending, but they can actually contribute to significant energy savings and stop your electricity bills from spiraling out of control this summer. So, here we’ll explore this topic in a little more detail, so you can have the details needed to make an informed decision for your home.
The Attic Ventilation Basics
Attic ventilation has a vital role to play in maintaining the comfort levels inside your home. In fact, issues such as hot attic temperatures in summertime, mold, and mildew can all be offset with adequate attic ventilation. In wintertime, attic vents can help to remove the moisture from inside your home to minimize the risk of mildew or mold developing. In summer, ventilation can help to keep the temperature of your attic down, which can contribute to real energy cost savings. The reason for this is that the sun beats down on the roof of your house, pushing the attic temperatures up as high as 120 degrees. This super heated air eventually radiates further into your home into living spaces to create warmer internal temperatures. This will force you to run your air conditioning system for longer and longer periods to offset the unwanted heat gain.
How Attic Ventilation Works
If you’ve ever been hunting for something in your attic in the height of summer, you’re likely to be aware that it can get very hot up there. In fact, most people find it unbearable to stay in their attic for any length of time in August. Fortunately, the insulation inside your home prevents much of this heat from seeping into the living areas, but on the hottest days, insulation alone won’t be enough.
Proper ventilation will help to offset the stress put on your insulation. In simple terms, an attic ventilation system will facilitate air circulation throughout your attic. Exhaust vents and air intake vents generate natural air flow, with cooler air pulled in through the intakes and warmer air is expelled through the exhaust vents. This will help to push that superheated air up and out of your attic.
The Types of Attic Vents
Attic ventilation systems are needed to create a circulation of air flow inside your attic. There is a variety of options for exhaust vents, but the most common include:
- Ridge Vents: These vents sit along the length of the horizontal ridges of your roof. The main advantage of this type of vent is that they help to prevent cool and hot spots inside your attic for a more significant cooling effect.
- Power Vents: PAVs or power vents look like box vents, but they include a solar powered or electric powered fan inside to help draw hot air and moisture out of the attic. The most advanced types of PAVs also have humidity detectors and thermostats that trigger functioning as and when needed.
The Role of Attic Fans in Ventilation
In addition to installing vents, the attic ventilation system in your home could benefit from fans. There are a few different types of fans, which each offer different types of benefits. The most common types of fans are:
- Whole Home: A whole home fan can reduce your cooling costs significantly. In simple terms, the fan is fitted in the attic and will be operated at night. This is because nighttime is when the temperatures will have cooled. Most types of whole home fan are floor mounted and placed over a central hallway inside your home. They need windows to be opened on the lower floors, and when the fan is turned on, it will draw cool air through the windows, pulling it up and into your attic. This forces warm air to be pushed out of your attic. While it may seem counterproductive to run a fan, when you are trying to save energy, typically whole house fans have an energy requirement that is as little as 10 to 15 percent of the energy used by most air conditioner units.
- Attic Ventilation Fans: Typically these types of fans are mounted to an external wall inside the attic. These types of systems blow hot air out of the attic space, but there are potential negative effects. If your home is not insulated properly, an attic ventilator fan could actually pull cooled air out of your home, increasing the cooling load.
Ultimately making improvements to your attic’s ventilation can create a net positive impact on your cooling bills, but there is a balance needed. Having too many vents in your attic can create temperature fluctuations during the cooler weather months, while too little venting will have little impact on dissipating the heat in the hot summertime.
If you want to achieve this balance and enjoy significant cost savings, it is best to consult a professional HVAC specialist. An experienced technician can assess the characteristics of your home to help guide you through the options and help you choose the best type of venting system for your attic. This will not only help to improve your home comfort, but also maximize energy savings with a properly installed and placed ventilation system.
If you have concerns about the energy efficiency of your home cooling or would like to explore the options for attic ventilation systems, you can rely on the expertise of an experienced HVAC specialist. With guidance from a professional HVAC technician, you can reduce the cost of cooling your home and enjoy optimum home comfort this summer.