Learn how to add ridge and soffit vents to boost central air conditioning. Find out why an attic fan is not the right choice when you have central air conditioning.
LESLIE: We’re talking to Indiana now with Rob who’s thinking about an attic fan. Tell us about your house.
ROB: Well, we have a – it’s probably about a 1,400 square foot ranch home and we have just put a new central air conditioning system in it a couple of years ago. And it works pretty well but we’re just trying to tweak things a little bit.
LESLIE: And you’re thinking an attic fan  might be the right answer?
ROB: Well, it might be. I was up in the attic and there is an old attic fan that was up there when we bought it and it’s an old one that had a – that has a motor and a belt and all that and I understand now they’re much more compact.
LESLIE: Well, Rob, let me help you before you go too far into this. You’ve just put in a central air system, which is fantastic. But if you were to go and kick on that attic fan right now, what it would do is it would suck all of that cooled air out of the house. You’d end up paying more in your energy bills  because it would be sucking all of that air from behind switch plates and behind all these different openings in your walls and you’d end up spending so much more money in cooling costs alone.
TOM: Yeah, a much better option, Rob, would be to improve the passive ventilation. So that’s things like adding a ridge vent and adding soffit vents . And you want to have an equal amount of ridge venting and soffit venting and that works together to sort of wash that warm air – and as well, the moisture that forms in the winter time – right through that attic and out. So, attic fans are a bad idea when you have central air conditioning for that very reason. If you don’t have central air, not as concerned about it. But really, they will rob a lot of cool air – which is contrary to what most people think. But really, I’ve seen the studies; I’ve seen how this is done and it really is not a good idea. When you turn an attic fan on, you can actually feel cold air go in the outlets and in the little spaces around the lights and places like that where there’s gaps that get into that space. So definitely not a good idea to put an attic fan in, for all those reasons, when you have central air.
ROB: Well, you’re correct because I’m one of those that just assumed that getting rid of that heat upstairs would certainly help the situation. I never even thought about that. So (inaudible) I pay enough energy bills the way it is; I don’t want to pay any more.
TOM: Absolutely, Rob. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.