In the hot days of July and August, when the sweltering summer sun is beating down on your roof, the heat slowly seeps into your home no matter how well your air conditioner works. It’s a hard fact to deal with, but most homes will experience a huge spike in their electric bill when the summer heat comes rolling in. The energy required to run the air conditioner in the summer can sometimes equal up to 70 percent of your total monthly electric bill! But there is a way to use the power of the sun to actually cool your home and save on your electric bill.
The answer lies in solar power, but it’s not what you think. It’s not as expensive or complicated a venture as installing solar powered panels on your roof or cutting yourself off from the electric grid. It’s as simple as installing a solar powered attic fan.
When the sun beats down on your home, it causes the air within your attic to heat up immensely. The attic can often reach temperatures of more than 150 degrees in the summertime! No matter how well your attic is insulated, some of that heat is bound to seep through vents or cracks in your attic and enter your home. This causes your house to heat up and makes your air conditioner work overtime. If you have an older air conditioner, this can put undo stress on the unit and you may need to call your service repair man for costly air conditioner repairs.
Most homes have what are called passive vents on the roof. These are simply vents that are not powered by any kind of fan or circulation system. They rely on the air to make its way out of your attic on its own. This is obviously not a very efficient way to keep your attic cool. A solar powered attic fan, however, is a type of active ventilation that pushes the hot air out of your attic, reducing the heat stored there and cooling the attic by up to 10 degrees!
The solar powered attic fan was actually invented by a roofer named Bill Keith. Keith was working on his roof in 140 degree weather installing a traditional fan powered by electricity when he was shocked after he pulled off the end caps of the wiring. After that, he was determined to find a better way to cool his attic and save on his power bill. He then invented the solar powered attic fan that mounts on the roof and pulls the hot air from the attic. Keith says that by simply using this solar powered fan to cool your attic, you can save up to 30 percent on your monthly electric bill!
The solar powered attic fan relies solely on the power of the sun, so there’re no extra electric costs to worry about and it’s pretty simple to install.
Generally speaking, installing a solar powered attic fan only takes about an hour, and it’s something you can install yourself if you’re technically inclined. If you’re a little hesitant, there are many professional installers available as well.
Installing a solar powered attic fan also provides another critical benefit to the homeowner. Daily tasks such as cooking and showering can create moisture in your attic space. This moisture can eventually lead to dangerous mold buildup that can be damaging both to your house and to your health. With a solar powered attic fan, the attic is kept cool and dry, thereby preventing excess mold growth.
When choosing a solar powered attic fan, the size and wattage will depend on the size of your attic. Solar powered attic fans can generally range anywhere from 10 watts which can ventilate about a 1,200 sq. ft. attic all the way up to a 25 watt systems which can ventilate up to 2,200 sq. ft.
A smaller unit costs around $500 while the larger units can cost up to $800 or more. While the costs may seem a little steep, it is a small price to pay to keeping your attic cool, your electric bill low, and your attic free of mold. According to the installers of Attic Breeze, if the solar powered attic fan is installed correctly and your house is well insulated, you should make your money back in one to two summers.
The solar powered attic fan also qualifies for the federal incentive program and qualifies you for a 30 percent tax credit on your purchase. This is great news for the home owner. Some people sometime confuse a tax credit and a tax deduction. A tax credit actually means that you will get that money back when you file for your yearly federal taxes. A tax deduction will simply deduct from your yearly income.
There are several sites on the internet where you can order a solar powered attic fan. You can also research professional installers who can come to your house and first evaluate whether you are a good candidate for a solar powered attic fan. For example, any home that allows air to enter the living space freely or has a drop ceiling would not be a good candidate for a solar powered attic fan. There are several key manufactures of solar powered attic fans including The Sunrise, which was featured on ABC World News and was named the 2006 Best Product by BUILDERnews Magazine. Other notable manufacturers are Natural Light and Attic Breeze.
Beating the summer heat and employing free energy sources such as the sun will become crucial as the energy debates begin to heat up. Prices in electricity are predicted to jump tremendously within the next year or so and with just a small investment in a solar powered attic fan you can save up to 30 percent on your next electric bill and do your part in conserving energy.