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Old 01-29-12, 11:42 AM   #1
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Saving energy by using the attic to cool/heat...

I've been trying to get my energy bill as low as I could. That means using the ac/heating close to none.

In the middle of the home, there's an attic access, 2x4 feet big, covered with an insulated piece of wood. On hot days, I open in up, letting hot air escape to the attic and that alone makes the house 7 degrees colder. On cold days I close it up and without any heating, the house stays 10 degrees warmer than the outside temperature.

I wonder if anybody has use their attic on a more sophisticated/techie way, using temperature controlled fans or some other equipment.
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Old 01-29-12, 11:46 AM   #2
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Yes, add an attic fan. It'll suck the hot air out in the summer.
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Old 01-29-12, 11:59 AM   #3
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I grew up in a house with a whole house fan. It was amazing.
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Old 01-29-12, 12:14 PM   #4
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I grew up in a house with a whole house fan. It was amazing.
Wow, this link has a really cool animation about the energy savings of the whole-house fan vs regular AC.

I'm already plotting here, since summer is around the corner. All I need is a fan, a thermostat and some wood to frame it. I can just replace the attic cover with this rig.

I also wonder, from the wiki I see that this is technology from the 50s & 60s... why we changed to ACs? Did energy got really cheap at some point?
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Old 01-29-12, 12:28 PM   #5
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Yes, add an attic fan. It'll suck the hot air out in the summer.
Absolutely. When does it get too hot for you to even think of cooling? It seems like a guy that needs a big space heater when it gets down to the 50's shouldn't need AC for quite a while.
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Old 01-29-12, 12:45 PM   #6
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A ridge vent (passive tech) allows hotter air to escape the attic and uses no energy.
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Old 01-29-12, 12:59 PM   #7
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Wow, this link has a really cool animation about the energy savings of the whole-house fan vs regular AC.

I'm already plotting here, since summer is around the corner. All I need is a fan, a thermostat and some wood to frame it. I can just replace the attic cover with this rig.

I also wonder, from the wiki I see that this is technology from the 50s & 60s... why we changed to ACs? Did energy got really cheap at some point?
ACs provide better filtration all of sorts. Live in a noisy neighborhood? Shut the windows. Got allergies? Stay indoors- defeats the purpose if windows are open. Work the graveyard and sleep during the day? Close the blinds to block the sunlight- which in turn would reduce the amount of airflow through open windows. Live next to a meth lab or down wind from a landfill, refinery, or other EPA Superfund site?

To be honest though, I'm not sure why everyone moved to centralized HVAC.
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Old 01-29-12, 01:44 PM   #8
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I had my central AC die during the brutal summer we just had here (read worst drought in Texas history). I installed efficient window units because I couldn't afford the $7k replacement bill. Dropped my electricity bill a ton due to efficiency and I only cool the rooms I'm using. It may seem silly but I like window units - it reminds me of my grandparents as a kid. As a little kid I loved standing in front of their window unit on a hot south Texas day. Using them now also brings a wonderful sense of nostalgia for me.
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Old 01-29-12, 01:48 PM   #9
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ACs provide better filtration all of sorts. Live in a noisy neighborhood? Shut the windows. Got allergies? Stay indoors- defeats the purpose if windows are open. Work the graveyard and sleep during the day? Close the blinds to block the sunlight- which in turn would reduce the amount of airflow through open windows. Live next to a meth lab or down wind from a landfill, refinery, or other EPA Superfund site?

To be honest though, I'm not sure why everyone moved to centralized HVAC.
Coming from someone from NE Oklahoma. Try a week in Florida, any week between June 1 and October 15. You will be reaching for the thermostat faster than Ruben running off to Georgia for more deer huntin'.

Growing up in St. Pete our house had no AC. Mr Fredrich never became friends with my cheap ass dad. My bro and I would sleep with one small 12" oscillating fan in our bedroom. No way we could direct the air at our sweating bodies as mom would say, "it circulates the cool air"! Oh boy.

Not until 1972, the year I left the house, did dad put in a small window rattler in HIS bedroom.
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Old 01-29-12, 02:04 PM   #10
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Ruben,

Your next real source of cool air is right under your feet if you can tap it. The ground is a lot cooler.

I live in an apartment and my cheap source of cool and hot air is my downstairs neighbor. She's better at heating though, last winter my apartment was in the high 70's all winter long without my kicking in the heater.
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Old 01-29-12, 04:30 PM   #11
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A lot of talk about whole house fans but nothing about ceiling fans. Can't believe anyone did not mention them. All three bedrooms, den and gathering room have them in our house. There is not one in the formal living room or formal dining room as my wife and I prefer awesome looking chandeliers to staying cool. The room with the most ceiling fan use though is the family room where the TV resides. If the air temp is 76 or 77 in the house, the ceiling fan will make it very comfortable. Hotter than that and I do not care about no stinkin' electric bill.
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Old 01-29-12, 06:32 PM   #12
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The landlord said go ahead with the project as long as you vacuum the carpet when done.
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Old 01-29-12, 06:58 PM   #13
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A lot of talk about whole house fans but nothing about ceiling fans. Can't believe anyone did not mention them. All three bedrooms, den and gathering room have them in our house. There is not one in the formal living room or formal dining room as my wife and I prefer awesome looking chandeliers to staying cool. The room with the most ceiling fan use though is the family room where the TV resides. If the air temp is 76 or 77 in the house, the ceiling fan will make it very comfortable. Hotter than that and I do not care about no stinkin' electric bill.
Ceiling fans are no good... they always break my daughter balloons and make her cry. And let's not even mention what they do to RC Helicopters.
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Old 01-29-12, 06:59 PM   #14
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Coming from someone from NE Oklahoma. Try a week in Florida, any week between June 1 and October 15. You will be reaching for the thermostat faster than Ruben running off to Georgia for more deer huntin'.

Growing up in St. Pete our house had no AC. Mr Fredrich never became friends with my cheap ass dad. My bro and I would sleep with one small 12" oscillating fan in our bedroom. No way we could direct the air at our sweating bodies as mom would say, "it circulates the cool air"! Oh boy.

Not until 1972, the year I left the house, did dad put in a small window rattler in HIS bedroom.
Don't get me wrong- i'm not arguing the need for AC. What I was questioning was why centralized AC was adopted so readily for single family residential units (houses). I've read or heard on numerous occasions how having multiple window units are more energy efficient and thus cost less to run than central AC.

Growing up as a kid, I lived in a house that had been converted to apartments. I lived upstairs. I dealt with the heat by sleeping outside on the porch roof at night in a lawn chair, then graduated to building an air tent in my room. Used a box fan, a big sheet, and whatever I could find to 'stake it' down with. Then my mom couldn't handle the heat anymore and got a window unit for the living room. We both camped out in there. Had to shut the AC off if we wanted to use the microwave or it would blow a fuse in the box (pre circuit breaker days- the house was built in the 20's).
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Old 01-29-12, 07:17 PM   #15
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^ That's exactly my question. Pretty much every house I've seen in Florida has central AC. People see their bill go up and down by $400 bucks due to AC usage alone. It would make more sense to see a mix of other stuff. But nope, just central ACs everywhere.
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Old 01-29-12, 07:22 PM   #16
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IN the islands and in Central America, room units are the norm.
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Old 01-29-12, 09:27 PM   #17
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^ That's exactly my question. Pretty much every house I've seen in Florida has central AC. People see their bill go up and down by $400 bucks due to AC usage alone. It would make more sense to see a mix of other stuff. But nope, just central ACs everywhere.
It boggles my mind how people in average size homes have $400 to $600 electric bills. You see them on the news moaning about their electric bill. I think their problem is more than the AC.

I just reviewed my Progress energy bills for the past year, and it is representative of other years. I am in a 2000sq ft home built in the 70's, OK insulation - but not overdone, windows original single pane. About the only "improvements" were the addition of ceiling fans in bedrooms, roof ridge made when reshingled 7 years ago, and the AC was upgraded to the then current 11 SEER several years ago. Don't use a programable thermostat because I work out of the home so no time to "shut systen off while away". My electric bill last year had a low in Dec of $92, July and Aug represent the highs at $202 and $209. All other months ranged from $135-185. The worst part is...I'm not even trying to conserve. Keep the thermostat around 78-80 and it is comfortable.

Never had AC in Winter Haven until I went to college (and parents AC'd the house AND got a riding lawn mower after I left.) Slept next to window with it open and lakke breeze helped. Wife also grew up in Miami without heat or AC. Neither of us could go back to it. Uncle in Jacksonville had whole house ceiling fan. Essentially effective during the evenings as you need to keep windows open to pull the air into the house, and it is cooler air in the evening.
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Old 01-29-12, 11:14 PM   #18
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I grew up in a house with a whole house fan. It was amazing.
So did I, and they really are.
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Old 01-30-12, 07:08 AM   #19
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The other thing about window units is that they start around $150. You can get a really good one for under $500. Contrast that with $7000 to replace a central unit (my situation). They're cheaper to buy and cheaper to run. They're actually against the rules for my HOA. I had to put privacy screens around them to hide them. Honestly though I'd take them to court if they tried to make me get rid of them.
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Old 01-30-12, 12:50 PM   #20
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^ The HOA messing with your AC units? I say it again and again, HOAs are evil and must be avoided at all costs.
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Old 01-30-12, 12:57 PM   #21
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My parents installed a whole house fan after I left. The thing sounds like the house is about to take off, but keeps it Oregon cool for my dad all summer (they're in Riverside County) without running the AC all the time.

Our mobile home has a ridge vent at the top and a little ventilation space above the ceiling. In addition to that crawlspace below it.
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Old 01-30-12, 03:10 PM   #22
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If you get a whole house fan, make sure at least 1 window is open before you start it. Also, if you leave the windows open a small amount, air cools as it expands so you can gain a small, small extra cooling. I grew up with one as well and miss them a lot. I have a little over 2000 sq/ft and my highest electric bill has been $250 in the last 8 years. Normally its around 120 so I don't really need a whole house fan. But I do miss it.
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Old 01-30-12, 03:33 PM   #23
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The other thing about window units is that they start around $150. You can get a really good one for under $500. Contrast that with $7000 to replace a central unit (my situation). They're cheaper to buy and cheaper to run. They're actually against the rules for my HOA. I had to put privacy screens around them to hide them. Honestly though I'd take them to court if they tried to make me get rid of them.
Plus, if you want to sit outside and it's too warm, you can take the unit off the window and set it on a table next to you and enjoy a beer! Your only limit is the length of your extension cord!
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Old 01-30-12, 03:52 PM   #24
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In our house, the furnace is in the laundry room near the back door. So I got a door with a window in it to replace the back door. When we flip the fan on, we just open the window in the back door and it will suck air from the outside instead of blowing the same air around the house. It should help things this summer without using the AC and without breaking out the window fans, which are noisy and probably dangerous toddler magnets.
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Old 01-30-12, 05:29 PM   #25
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^ The HOA messing with your AC units? I say it again and again, HOAs are evil and must be avoided at all costs.

HOA's keep out trashy neighbors who keep their place looking like they live in Winter Springs, FL. or Pinellas Park, FL.
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