As summer approaches, Delaware homeowners may also recall the challenge of retaining a reasonably comfortable home environment during the inevitable spells of hot weather. Everyone has a different relationship to heat and its evil twin, humidity, which dictates how much attention and budget needs to be dedicated to house cooling.
One old-fashioned solution is out there that many Delawareites may not have considered.
For most heat-sensitive Delaware residents, house cooling is synonymous with some form of air conditioning—if not central, then some assemblage of window A/C units. Evaporative coolers have economic and environmental advantages, but are really most effective in dry conditions: in other words, when the air gets soupy, their effectiveness fades. These were the “swamp coolers” of yesteryear—and they do have plusses that keep them around today. They allow open windows, so unlike air conditioners, fresh air is part of the house cooling action. They also use relatively little energy.
Swamp coolers used to be more popular in pre-air conditioner days—but there’s another cooling solution that is sometimes overlooked today. It’s the “Whole House Fan” system.
The basic idea is to fight the buildup of heat inside the home by pulling air up and out of the structure, expelling heat and allowing cooler breezes to enter. The house cooling is forced by a powerful fan in the attic combined with appropriately installed ventilation ports. It’s the fan that was the culprit behind the unpopularity of yesteryear’s versions. They were called “attic fans,” and they earned an unfortunate reputation for being extremely noisy. Sounded like a helicopter was taking off on the roof. Not okay.
Today’s whole house fans are the exact opposite: engineering advances make them whisper quiet, yet powerful and effective. Because they are quiet, homeowners don’t mind leaving them on for extended periods, which maximizes their effectiveness in ridding homes of summer heat buildup. It is true that on really hot days—when the outside air, even in shaded areas, can become oppressive—air conditioning is simply more effective. But for Delaware residents who don’t mind an occasional heat spell, the savings in electricity consumption can make whole house fans a modern strategy worth considering.