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Planting Trees and Shrubs to Maximize Shade and Home Cooling

Shading your house can help you reduce the temperatures inside your home as much as 20°F (11°C), reports the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Trees and other vegetation provide effective shading. Landscaping is a beautiful and natural way to block out the sun and provide your home with shade. A well-placed bush, tree or vine can not only add to your property’s aesthetic value, but also deliver effective shade.

Below are some ways you can get the most out of your vegetation for shading.

Trees and Shrubs
When planting trees, place them on the northwest-southwest and northeast-southeast sides of your home. Don’t plant your trees directly to the south, unless you live in a year-round hot climate. Plant shrubs and trees so they direct the breeze. Don’t place a crowded line of evergreen trees in places they will block cool air from getting through or around them.

Even mature deciduous trees with their bare branches in the winter can reduce how much sunlight reaches your home significantly. When you plant shrubs somewhat close to your home, they’ll fill in quickly and start to shade your windows and walls within a few years.

Trellises
To keep vines from attaching to the facade of your home and damage its exterior, set trellises away from your home. This also allows air to circulate. When you place vegetation too close to your home, it can trap the heat and cause the air around your home to feel even warmer.

Dead Spaces
Planting bushes, vines and shrubs next to your home creates dead spaces that will insulate your house in both summer and winter. You’ll want at least a foot of space between your home’s wall and full-grown plants.

Wind Breaks
Shrubs and evergreen trees planted to the northwest and north of your house are a common form of windbreak. Bushes, trees and shrubs that are planted together hinder or block wind from the level of the ground to the treetops. Combining evergreen trees with a fence, wall or earth berm (raised areas of soil or man-made or natural walls) can lift or deflect the wind over your home.

Don’t plant your evergreens too close to the south side of your home if you want winter sun warmth. Windbreaks reduce the speed of wind for a distance that can reach around 30 times the height of the windbreak. Plant your windbreak away from your house at a distance of two to five times the trees’ mature height.

To maximize your home’s cooling, complement the strategic planting of trees, vines, and shrubs with a whole house fan. You can use the whole house fan in the evening to draw in cool air and reduce your home’s temperature.

Benefits of Natural Ventilation

Natural ventilation is a system of climate control that takes advantage of natural forces, such as wind and thermal buoyancy to affect a comfortable living environment or workspace and keeping the air nice and fresh. It offers more benefits than many people realize and may be an ideal investment for your home or office space.

These are a few benefits that might make you consider installing a whole house fan so you can incorporate more natural ventilation into your home.

Low Maintenance
When compared to the cost of operating and maintaining an air conditioner that runs 24/7, the costs of natural ventilation are far more appealing to consumers. Not only does it save you money to operate a whole house fan, or other natural ventilation system, but it also takes less time and energy to maintain.

Versatile
One of the beautiful features of natural ventilation is that it can be used in combination with other heating and cooling systems. You can have the benefits of all the systems while bringing fresh, clean air into your home and getting rid of tainted, stale air.

Improved Health
One of the most understated, and often unintended, benefits of natural ventilation is the health benefits it offers. Not only does it help to remove many VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that are notorious for harming health from the air, but it also helps to rid the air in your home of moisture that can lead to mold and mildew and a treasure trove of health maladies.

Ridding the air in your home of these things can improve your health and that of your family – especially elderly people, children, and those who suffer from allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions.

Plant Friendly
If your goal is to go greener in your home, then natural ventilation is a positive step to take. It involves using far less electricity, creates a substantially lower carbon footprint, and helps to make your home a far more earth-friendly space.

Cost Effective
Finally, operating a whole house fan or natural ventilation system helps to reduce the costs of operation when compared to air conditioners. Even if you only supplement the need for air conditioning by using the ventilation system at night and early in the morning, you can reduce your expenses substantially over time.

Now is the perfect time to begin making plans for a healthier, happier, and greener future by embracing natural ventilation to clear the air in your home and keep your family comfortable through every season.

5 Ways to Prevent Heat from Entering Your Home

When it’s hot outside, it can be difficult to keep it cool inside your home. You have the sun that beats down on your home and causes the temperatures in your home to rise to levels that aren’t comfortable. Sure, you get relief from your air conditioner. But you’re also probably dealing with a large energy bill because of it. Also, conventional AC units use refrigerants that are made of chlorine compounds. These are suspected to contribute to global warming and the depletion of our ozone layer. Fortunately, there are alternatives to using your AC unit.

Below are five ways to prevent heat from coming into your home so it stays cool.

  1. Apply a Reflective Coating to Your Roof
    Around a third of built up heat in your house comes in through your roof. And, with traditional materials, this can be hard to control. For instance, fiberglass and white asphalt shingles absorb around 70 percent of the sun’s heat. What you can do, however, is apply a reflective coating to your roof. There are a couple standard roof coatings you can get from the lumberyard or a hardware store. These are:

White latex: Apply this coating over fiberglass and asphalt shingles, metal or tar paper

Asphalt based: This coating consists of aluminum particles and glass fibers. Apply to your asphalt or metal roof

Often, manufacturers will offer you a 5-year warranty.

  1. Plant Trees and Vines
    Shade the exterior of your home with these green-house coolers and keep the sunlight out of your windows. West-facing walls are good places to plant them where the sun is strongest. Some good choices are deciduous trees and vines. Deciduous trees offer you shade in the summer and in the autumn, let in the sun as the temperatures begin dropping. This is because they leaf out during the springtime and then drop their leaves in autumn. Vines like Virginia creeper and ivy are also great for outdoor insulators.
  1. Power Down Appliances
    Reduce heat output and save money by powering down any appliances that you’re not using such as your television and computer. By connecting multiple appliances to one power strip, it’s easier to power them down. Avoid steam and heat-generating appliances like washers, dryers, ranges and ovens during the day when it’s hot.
  1. Create Cross-Ventilation
    Use doors and windows for cross-ventilation. Adjust location and size of the openings so you can ventilate various areas of your house.
  1. Use a Whole House Fan
    Use a whole house fan to cool your home at night (for a cooler next day in your home). If you live in a region that gets hot in the daytime and cool at night, you can keep the heat out effectively by doing a night air flush. An insulated and well-sealed whole house fan is a great way to do this. The fan draws the cool air in the evening through your windows while flushing out the hot stuffy air of the day. After cooling your home at night with a whole house fan, you can close your windows during the day and your home should stay cool and comfortable.

 

 

How Much Can You Save by Installing Energy Saving Improvements?

Saving money is a huge motivation for making energy saving improvements to your home. But, it’s extremely important to understand just how much you stand to save by making certain investments so you can improve your home with confidence that these improvements will ultimately pay for themselves. To determine that, you need to know just how much you stand to save when you make certain energy-conserving updates to your home.

Light Bulbs and Fixtures
If you only replace the five most frequently used fixtures or bulbs in your home with those that are designated as Energy Star items, you can save up to $75 every year – according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Imagine the savings if you replace all the bulbs and fixtures in your home.

Other considerations, if you make the switch to LED bulbs are the savings you’ll enjoy by replacing bulbs less frequently since one LED bulb can last up to 11 years. LED bulbs also burn cooler preventing you from needing to crank up the air conditioning in the summertime to compensate for your bulbs.

Energy Efficient Windows
House Logic reports that you can expect to save as much as 15 percent per year on your utility bills for installing energy-efficient windows with low-E coatings on a 2,600-square-foot home. Of course, these savings vary according to the climate where you live and other contributing factors.

Other Energy-Saving Improvements You Can Make
There are other, less expensive energy-saving changes you can make to your home that will offer an incredible bang for your buck. The Department of Energy suggests that simple things like installing power strips for electronics and turning them off when not in use can net you 12 percent savings on your electric bill each year. Planting shade trees can shave the costs of cooling your home by anywhere from 15 -50 percent per the same source.

One big change you can make for the sake of your home that will yield surprising energy savings results is installing a whole house fan. Lifehacker states that a whole house fan can save up to 10 to 20 percent on electricity compared to a central air conditioner and even more savings when compared to the costs of operating a window air conditioner.

The key is to combine low and higher cost methods of conserving energy to maximize your savings overall. These are fabulous changes to begin with.

What’s the Difference Between Whole-House Fans, Whole-House Comfort Ventilators, Whole-House Ventilation Systems?

Making informed decisions about home ventilation systems can make all the difference in the world when it comes to indoor air quality, respiratory health, comfort of your home, and the costs of keeping your home comfortable when the weather outside is anything but. With so many options, how do you know which one is the right one for you?

Whole-House Fans
Whole house fans work by speeding up the process of cooling your home at night by eliminating, or expelling, the hot air from your attic giving cooler air more room inside your home. It costs considerably less than operating an air conditioning unit 24/7 and offers you the opportunity to improve the overall air quality in your home substantially by eliminating moisture, bacteria, allergens, and other toxins from the air along with the hotter air – all while drawing cooler, fresher air into the home from open windows on lower floors.

Whole-House Comfort Ventilators
The term whole-house comfort ventilator is essentially a whole house fan, by another name. Both work by drawing cooler air into the home through open windows while expelling hot air through attic vents. Neither operate in the capacity of an air conditioning system that cools the air, they only serve to use cooler air from outside the home to speed the process of making your home more comfortable without the higher operating costs of central air conditioning.

Whole-House Ventilation Systems
Unlike the previous two systems that do seek to make the air in your home a more comfortable temperature for the family, the whole-house ventilation system only seeks to move fresh air throughout the home at a low rate of flow. The purpose is to keep the air inside your home fresh for improved air quality rather than comfort. This system may be ideal for milder climates where air quality is a greater concern than the coolness of the air inside your home. It is especially useful if you live in a home with someone who suffers from certain respiratory conditions, allergies, or asthma.

The more you understand about each individual system, the more informed decision you can make when you are making this critical purchase for your home. The similar names can be confusing in their own rights, but understanding the differences between them can help you find the right system to meet your needs and the needs of your family – for the sake of your comfort and your health.

Call us here at WholeHouseFan.com at 1.888.229.5757 and we can help you choose the right system for your home.

Two Important Reasons for Garage Ventilation

There’s a growing concern among homeowners today: when your garage isn’t correctly ventilated it can be hazardous. It’s known that benzene from our car exhausts poses a threat in terms of developing cancers such as leukemia.

Good ventilation can reduce or stop this toxic gas from entering your home. In addition to installing a garage exhaust fan, such as the Garage Exhaust Fan QuietCool GA ES-1500, what can you do about toxic fumes and heat buildup in your garage?

Toxic Fumes
An attached garage is very convenient, however, when it negatively affects your indoor air quality, you can have a real problem. Many of the items we store in our garages can contain substances that can affect our health. For example, mowers, cars, lubricants and paints. When these become airborne, they can easily get into our homes, through open doors, ducts, gaps around closed doors and more. To combat this:

Keep the door from your garage door shut. This is perhaps the simplest way to contain chemical traces within your garage.

Keep the garage door open. When you start your car, never do so with the garage door closed. If you do have to start your car in a closed space, move it outside as soon as you can. And leave the door open for a while afterwards to clear the air.

Keep lids on everything. Ensure all containers of potentially hazardous liquids are sealed when they’re not in use.

Keep your garage clean. Never run any equipment like your lawn mower, vehicle or chainsaw for longer than necessary in your garage. Additionally, don’t place items like furnaces and water heaters in the space.

Heat
Increasing the airflow in your garage is crucial, especially in the hot summer months. You can achieve this by:

Insulating the overhead door. This ensures your space is cooler in the hot months and warmer in the winter. Generally, a few-inch thick layer of rigid insulation attached with contact cement to the inner section of every panel of your uninsulated metal door should be all you need. Alternatively, fit an insulated sectional overhead door.

Opening the overhead door. Either leave the door slightly or completely open and consider installing a garage exhaust fan to keep your space cool.

Insulating the ceiling. Ceiling insulation keeps the heat down in your garage when the temperature’s rising outside.

Installing vents is another way to ensure your garage is well ventilated. Look after the health of you and your family and take steps to get the air moving in your garage today.

 

 

What is the Difference Between a Whole House Fan and an Attic Fan?

Many people mistakenly use the terms whole house fan and attic fan interchangeably. The problem is, they are different fans with altogether different purposes – both offering benefits that are beneficial to many homeowners throughout the country. The key lies in determining what your goals from the fan are so you can choose the fan that will help you achieve those goals.

Key Details about Whole House Fans
Whole house fans are ideal for providing quick cooling for your home. They move huge volumes of air in a relatively brief period of time – expelling stifling air through attic vents and drawing cooler air in through open windows on lower floors. A properly sized whole house fan for your home, in the right conditions, can effectively cool your home, with a nice comfortable breeze, in as little as five minutes.

Operate best in cool evening, overnight, and morning hours (times when the temperature outside your home is generally cooler).

Draws heat out of your home through roof vents.

Draws cool air in through open windows (windows on lower floors of your home must be open for a whole house fan to operate).

Creates a comfortable breeze for added comfort.

Using a whole house fan to cool your home when possible helps you reduce your dependence on air conditioning units for your home that cost considerably more to operate. The mounting is different as well. Whole house fans are typically mounted in the ceiling between your living space and your attic while attic fans are generally mounted between your attic space and the outside of your home.

Key Details about Attic Fans
Attic fans operate a little differently than whole house fans. The purpose of an attic fan is simply to remove the hot air from your attic space. This doesn’t directly offer cooling benefits for your home, but offers indirect benefits by reducing the amount of heat that builds up in your attic throughout the hottest hours of the day. It is most efficiently used during daytime hours and can be used with a timer.

Runs best during the hottest daylight hours.

Removes hot air from your attic allowing your air conditioning unit to operate more efficiently – even during the hottest hours of the day.

Isolated to the attic space in your home.


The Argument for Both

Each type of fan offers many benefits to homeowners interested in reducing cooling costs, improving air quality in the home, and keeping the family comfortable. When used in combination with each other, one during the day and the other during the night, the overall effects on your comfort and budget are truly impressive.

If you have questions about either whole house fans or attic fans or specific products we offer, give us a call at 1.888.229.5757. We’d love to hear from you!

What is Passive Cooling?

Passive cooling is a form of natural air conditioning, so to speak. You can take advantage of clever passive cooling techniques to reduce the internal and external heat gains of your home without having to turn to a mechanical air conditioner.

Similar to passive solar heating, when taking advantage of passive cooling, you may have to use your AC from time to time. However, the goal is to lower your need for mechanical ventilation and cooling systems and the electricity it takes to run them.

By lowering your needs for these cooling systems, you can increase your energy independence, lower your energy bills, and significantly reduce your impact on the environment. Below are just some ways you can implement passive cooling to save money and the environment.

Shading Structures
When you have unshaded windows, you are letting in around half the heat gain in your home. The heat gain from a sunny day from a 100 sq. ft. east-west facing window equals around several hours of furnace use. You can use overhangs to shade south-facing windows and block out the hot summer sun, but allow the lower winter sun to flow in and provide you with passive solar heating. External shading sources like external shades, trellis and trees work well for east-west exposures.

Whole House Fan
During cool nights in drier climates, you can use a whole house fan to cool your home while reducing or completely eliminating your need for air conditioning. The whole house fan is easy to use and energy efficient. The whole house fan draws in the cool outdoor air through your home’s open windows and exhausts the hot indoor air to the outside through your attic.

Reflectors
Increase solar heat gain during the winter with seasonally movable reflectors. Reflectors also help to reduce heat gain during the summer.

Solar Chimneys
Solar chimneys provide homeowners with a way of improving their home’s ventilation naturally. The chimney is a vertical shaft that’s typically painted black to absorb the solar energy. Solar energy heats the chimney and enclosed air during the day creating an updraft in the chimney. The chimney’s bottom suction helps ventilate your home.

Energy-efficiency and lower costs make passive cooling methods worthwhile. You can lower much of your home cooling costs significantly with passive cooling methods that don’t require costly professional installs or retrofits. Not to mention you’re saving the environment with these eco-friendly passive cooling alternatives while you stay cool in your home.

Call us today at 1.888.229.5757 for free expert advice on whole house fans. Whole House Fan (WholeHouseFan.com) has been supplying homeowners and contractors across the United States and Canada with whole house fans since 2001.

5 Benefits of Good Ventilation

Good ventilation may not seem all that important at first glance. When you get down to the heart and soul of it, though, the many benefits good ventilation has to offer, like the five listed below, should make it a priority in your home.

1) Improve Indoor Air Quality
The EPA suggests that indoor air quality in most homes is worse than the quality of the air outside. Unless measures are taken to improve ventilation, like installing a whole house fan, garage exhaust fan and attic fan, you may find yourself struggling with immediate health problems related to poor indoor air quality like irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, fatigue, and dizziness, or long-term effects that include cancer, respiratory disease, and even heart disease.

2) Reduce Moisture
Good ventilation helps to draw moist air out of your home, releasing it outside. Moisture is introduced into the air in your home whenever you prepare meals, shower, wash dishes, or do laundry. Without adequate ventilation that moisture has no escape and becomes trapped in your home to generate mold and mildew problems that compromise the structure and beauty of your home in addition to the health of your family.

3) Temperature Control
Believe it or not, ventilation, properly venting stifling air out of your home, can go a long way toward keeping your home comfortable inside when the world heats up outside. Whole house fans, such as the QuietCool QC CL-3100 Whole House Fan, and attic fans, like the QuietCool Smart Attic Gable Fan, are excellent tools to assist with this as they help to remove the hot air from your home allowing cooler air to circulate better within your home.

4) Protect Respiratory Health
Toxins, allergens, bacteria, and moisture in the air in your home can lead to a wealth of unpleasant allergy symptoms, respiratory illnesses, and even asthma attacks. Good ventilation allows these things to escape your home, clearing the air inside so your family can breathe easier.

5) Improves the Smell of Your Home
There’s nothing quite like fresh air to make a room, or a home, smell clean. Good ventilation can help to remove many of the more unpleasant odors in your home, such as mold, mildew, tobacco smoke, cooking odors, and even pet smells.

The five benefits above are a small sample of the good that adequate ventilation can provide for your home. The key for improving indoor air quality and making your home a healthier place for your family and friends is to keep adequate ventilation in your home a priority.

Looking to improve the ventilation in your home? Talk to one of our ventilation experts here at WholeHouseFan.com 1.888.229.5757.

What are Smart Shades?

When looking back, window shades have gone from having to manually pull the cord and twist the stick to open and close your blinds to blinds that can be drawn with a touch of a button. Today, they’ve now evolved into smart shades you can incorporate into your home automation system.

What are Smart Shades?
Motorized smart blinds help you to control both heat loss and solar gain from your home naturally all day long simply by pre-programming times where they automatically open and close. With the help of smart home technology, smart shades actually use the sunlight and temperature to learn when to open and close and this maximizes your HVAC system’s efficiency.

Wireless smart shades work similar to smart LED bulbs where you are able to lower or raise them as a group or individually like the sunset or sunrise. Some smart blinds use either a remote control or a smart app, others use both.

Types of Smart Shades?
Typically, there are two categories that smart shade solutions fall under: retrofit devices and motorized shades. Retrofit devices shoot towards lower prices and normally operate on a simple app-connected motor you feed the strings of certain blinds into which makes them “smart.” These gadgets, however, require continuous loop chain blinds which can be expensive to buy online and hard to find in stores.

Motorized shades are a little more expensive and come with a hub. However, they’re also reliable, self-contained and tend to cooperate better with other smart home technology.

Benefits of Smart Shades?
There are a number of benefits of having smart blinds in your home including:

Convenience: Open and close motorized smart shades with a simple touch of a button, an app on your smartphone or a remote control
Energy Savings: Connect your motorized shades to a smart home hub to reduce how much energy your HVAC system uses
Cost savings: Save money as a homeowner. These shades sense sunny days in the month of January and open up to capture the sunlight heat inside your home and help to reduce your heating bill. Additionally, you can program them to block out the sun during the summer months or open part way on a cloudy day
Smart Home Integration: Use smart thermostats with a collection of data to decide whether the smart shades should open or close to conserve energy
Protect Your Valuables: Protect your floors, furniture and valuable art from the sunlight’s damaging rays with motorized shades
Safety: Keep kids and pets safe with no cords

Now that you know the benefits of smart blinds, it’s also important to know there are other ways you can help with cooling costs as well such as installing a whole house fan. Both smart blinds and a whole house fan working together can really help you save a lot of money on your cooling costs

Understanding Your Home’s Orientation for Optimal Heating and Cooling Benefits

As you design and build your new home, it’s essential you understand how the orientation and location of your home will impact your home’s energy profile. When you combine good orientation with other features that are energy efficient, like installing a whole house fan for example, you can reduce your need for auxiliary cooling and heating; even eliminate it altogether. This leads to lower energy bills, improved comfort, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Home orientation takes account for the sun’s path variations in the winter and summer as well as cooling breezes and other types of wind. Building orientation is where you face your home so it maximizes different aspects of its surroundings like drainage considerations, capturing a scenic view or street appeal.

With the spike in energy costs, how you orient your home can also help you take advantage of the sun’s free energy and lower your energy costs. In fact, you can save up to 40 percent on heating your home by orienting your home towards the sun.

Tips for Proper Orientation of your New Home
We all know the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. During the winter, midday sun is at a low angle and in the summer at a high angle. You can maximize on this by positioning your home so you can take advantage of the sun’s daily and seasonal movements.

 Orient Your Home Longitudinally
This means you should orient your home’s length east-west and orient its smaller width north-south. By doing this, you get the benefits of solar gains during colder months from the south and reduce heat loss on the east and west sides due to the wind.

Plan for Tree Shading
When planning your passive solar design, it’s essential you factor in trees since they not only can provide necessary shade on hot summer days but also can deny natural light in your home when you need it most.

To help with this, you can plant deciduous trees on your home’s south side since in the wintertime they lose their leaves and allow natural light to flow into your home. You can plant evergreen trees on your home’s north side to shade off the summer sun and keep your home cool. If you have existing trees, you should consider their species, age, mature canopy, and growth rate before you orient your new home.

Use an Overhang
The summer sun travels high in the summer sky making it necessary for you to install some type of overhang to cover or shade your windows and block out the sun’s heat when trying to cool your home. An overhang can keep your home from absorbing the sun’s heat and energy in the summer.

Install a Whole House Fan
You can reduce your AC system use and lower your energy bills by installing a whole house fan. A whole house fan is a better option than central or room AC units when you’re looking to be environmentally-friendly.

You can use massing tools and building information modeling in the pre-conceptualization stages of your home’s construction to determine the best size and shape of your home based on the outdoors’s natural conditions.

Learn how a whole house fan works here. Then, give us a call at 1.888.229.5757 to learn more about how a whole house fan can help optimize the cooling benefit

What is Radiant Cooling?

Summer cooling expenses can add up quickly for those who prefer to keep your homes comfortable at all hours of the day and night. If you’re like most people today, you are constantly in search of innovative ways to reduce not only your cooling costs, but also the carbon footprint your cooling efforts leave behind.

Of course, you want to do that without sacrificing your comfort in the process if that’s at all possible. Radiant cooling is a fantastic way to aid in your efforts to keep your cool without breaking the bank – or the planet.

Radiant Cooling
The concept of radiant cooling is quite simple. It uses the knowledge that warm air rises and cool air sinks. In regions where there is relatively low humidity, this is often achieved by chilling panels or beams hanging from the ceiling. When the cold air sinks, it will make the room more comfortable for those who are in the room. In some cases, a dehumidifier is necessary to use along with this method of cooling as it will help to reduce the risk of condensation. While the most commonly recognized forms of radiant cooling are used in the ceiling, it is also possible to have radiant cooling systems in your flooring as well.

Other Cooling Options for Your Home
Another method of cooling your home to consider is the use of a whole house fan. You may choose to use your whole house fan alone or in concert with radiant cooling. Whole house fans are effective at removing moisture and heat from inside the home allowing radiant cooling systems to cool more effectively. This may eliminate the need for air conditioning altogether. At the very least it will reduce your dependence on air conditioning allowing you to cool your home far more cost effectively in many regions of the United States.

When the dog days of summer are bearing down upon you, it is difficult to think of little other than escaping the oppressive heat of the summer sun. Radiant cooling presents a comfortable, cost-effective alternative to use to reduce your dependence on higher cost, higher emissions air conditioning for your home or office.

Use that in combination with other cost-conscious cooling methods, like whole house fans, and you can watch your energy savings grow while taking comfort in the fact that you’re doing something good for your wallet and the planet. Small steps like these add up to valuable savings for everyone.