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How to cool your house on the cheap



Hi guys,
I had a couple of requests to show this neat trick I have of keeping the house cool.

first, some theory.
Everywhere the sun hits, it gets hot, which is why closing your blinds to keep the sun out is helpful. You’ll notice the wall still getting really hot, though, because the sun is still hitting it.
The same heat buildup is happening in your attic, although you might not realize it. The heat builds up in the attic, and especially if you live in an older house with poor insulation like I do, the heat transfers down through the ceiling into the house, making things really hot.
So if you could push air into the attic, it could cool the attic, which would keep the house from getting too hot. If you open a window on the cool side of the house, you can help cool things even further.
The hot air leaves the attic via vents under the eavestroughs or on the roof. This happens normally, but you can help force airflow to go faster using this trick.

So where can you find a place to push air into the attic? Well, in my house, it’s right in the hallway. sometimes attic access will be in hallway, or bedroom, or closet; if you don’t know where yours is, you’ll have to look around, but you probably have one.

It’s usually pretty easy to get into the attic; just get a stepladder and push the board up.
Warning; if you do this on a hot day, it’ll be crazy hot in the attic.

Next you need a box fan. These are pretty cheap from Walmart or the hardware store.
Mine comes with a switch with 3 different settings.
However, if you were to try fit the box fan into the space, you’ll likely find that it doesn’t work; the space is too large for the box fan.
What I had to do is take some scraps of wood and build an inset. It’s pretty flimsy; just held together with staples; but it doesn’t need to carry a lot of weight. I also put a bit of weather stripping on it to keep the air from escaping too much.

So you put the insert in, and then the fan. Remember that you can rotate it to get it to fit the now-tight space.
You’ll need to find a plug for the fan. Take a look around in your attic; often there;s an outlet, and you can use a short extension cord to get the power to the fan.

And that’s all there’s to it. in the coming weeks, if there’s a heat wave coming, just climb on a chair or stepstool, turn on the fan, and start cooling down your attic!
Although this approach isn’t as effective as Air Conditioning, it’s a fraction of the cost and uses way less electricity.

Thanks for watching! Keep cool! don’t forget to subscribe!
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50 comments

  1. I wish I hade that problem

  2. right when the video started and i seen the house I thought of blue clue

  3. I think Duckyistrippin is right. Hot air rises for sure and, from what he says (and from what the scheme bellow also shows), those inlets in the attic are for cooler air to come in, not hot air to go out since they're placed near at floor-level on the attic, which is where the attic's cooler air is. Of course that, if you had a perfectly fan that prevented blow-back of air at any time and was perfectly sealed air-tight around, the air will eventually still leave but not in the best way. If you open the attic door, and you put a fan in there, like you did, unless it is completely sealed all around and has some kind of shutter to prevent blow-back of the air when the fan is not turned on, you will have hot air being pushed from the attic to your top floor due to the pressure differential created by the fan and, also, some hot air coming down through the fan when it's not working, being pushed by hotter air above it. Also, even throughout the night, if you have the fan turned off, some hot air will almost definitely come down, since the attic can accumulate a lot of heat. If you want your attic to cool, what you should do is find a way to expel that hot air through the roof, at the top, and not through those inlets you mentioned, which are at the bottom of the attic, which only allow the coolest of the attic's air to leave first (since cooler air deposits itself lower, near the floor). I don't doubt you have experienced improvements but you can get much better than that.

    Watch this video (notice how you shouldn't try to push the hot air out, at floor-level on the attic because it just goes against the natural air current): 
    Why Homes Need Attic Ventilation

    Roof fans, such as this
    http://www.twista.com.au/How-Roof-Vents-Work/

    will spin without electricity, using only very few wind, causing hot air to go through even faster than it would without any fan (because it would still go up without any fan). They're basically wind-powered fans. Just make sure it's waterproof and bug-proof (I don't know because I never used one because my house doesn't have an attic or roof). This way, the hot air will go up and away instead of pushed into your house. And, during the night, try having window fans to bring cool outside air to the house. Or open windows on opposite sides to create a draft. Especially on the top floors because cool air will go down on its own. Always mind your security. 

    http://www.twista.com.au/How-Roof-Vents-Work/Summer-Benefits.htm

    I'm not, in any way, affiliated with this product but it's site is so didactic that it does a great job at proving my point 😉 There are lots of different manufacturers for this type of product. Other types of roof fans:

    https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=hot+air+roof+exhaust&tbm=isch&imgil=dVWLT1Q8YpzJuM%253A%253B45vWSH2qxAmNcM%253Bhttp%25253A%25252F%25252Fwww.china-ogpe.com%25252Fcatalog%25252F3%25252Fcentrifugal_fan_50%25252F&source=iu&fir=dVWLT1Q8YpzJuM%253A%252C45vWSH2qxAmNcM%252C_&usg=__DrDwiU1feJyhueEw6OuSJKrETg0%3D&sa=X&ei=kRENVPSII8ztaNT_gJAI&ved=0CCkQ9QEwAg&biw=1527&bih=850#tbm=isch&q=roof+fan&imgdii=_

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  5. Here is a cheaper idea, install a solar powered attic fan. Also, if your roof only has vents in the eaves it is poorly designed as everyone knows heat rises and your home should have been equipped with a ridge vent. Pulling cool air from inside the home and sending it to the attic really does not appear to be cheap nor efficient at all. Just my 2 cents.

  6. dust everywhere

  7. Have just tried your same concept on my attic. I have soffits all the way around the house, and plenty of passive vents on the roof. But, my attic just has been staying real hot…obviously the hot attic air is not rising thru the vents enough. Have been comparing various kinds of powered attic fans, but haven't decided yet on which kind. Will probably go solar fan. Until then, your project is my inspiration. Thanks.

  8. Very often the vents under the soffets are plugged with insulation because the builders don't take time to clear them after they blow insulation in them. If you clear them you will make a difference right off the hop. 

  9. what does the temp get to when the fans off and on?

  10. air conditioning for the mice.

  11. SecondLifeDesigner

    I been doing this for 8 years.  I opted for a high velocity 21 inch Lakewood fan.  She puts out about 7,000 CFM that's Cubic Feet per Minute.  The fan in the video only puts out about 1,200.  I saw one Whole House Fan at a local hardware store that only puts out 3,500 CFM and was $350 compared to the $60 I paid for my fan on sale.

    I don't use mine during the day.  During the day I close my attic access and use another fan to blow air from outside into the attic all day.  If you were to use the fan as he suggests during the day hot air from outside would be sucked into the house.

    It is better to wait till the outside temperature is lower than the inside temperature and then open up all the windows and use the attic access fan then.  I also use a few box fans similar to his placed on the window sills facing in so they suck cool air from outside and blow it inside.  This helps cool things down much faster.

    If I can get my house down to 65 degrees before heading for bed I then shut all the fans off and close all the windows.  If not I will sometimes let them all run till 8AM and then shut everything off and close everything including the attic access.  

    Even on a 100 degree day if I can get my house down to 65 the house only gets up to about 80 to 82 degrees by 5:30PM.

    If I know it won't get down to 65 even by 8AM I will shut everything down and close everything before I go to bed.  I then have my air conditioner set to come on at 5AM and cool the house down to 65 for about 45 minutes. 

  12. The 300 cfm window fan cannot compare to the 3000-5000cfm whole house fans.

  13. The motor bearings on a window fan are not designed to operate in a horizontal position.  The bearings could overheat, seize up the motor and start a fire.  UL testing of window fans is only as upright fans.

  14. Every 1950's house in my area has one of these that's way more powerful than a box fan. Must have been a life saver in the pre-A/C days, but it's a poor substitute now. And it brings a LOT of dirt in from outside.

  15. dddavids Ghost Cams

    Very good…as long as you don't have the air conditioner on.

  16. You would have been better off just buying a second piece of plywood for the attic access spot and cutting a hole…then use the original one in the winter.

  17. You can can automate this by getting a Lux WIN100 Heating & Cooling Programmable Outlet Thermostat so the fan goes on and off at a set temp

  18. Thanks for the tip.  I was able to run Romex and install a switch in a near by closet.  Works like a charm.

  19. i found my attic… ohh its my room 🙁

  20. solar panel + your fan = full auto ,it switch on if the weather is hot mean the sun is there if rain the fan will not work…. tips

  21. I've lived in an old house (a rental) for a year now, and I burn up in summer and freeze in winter. Spent a lot of time in bed with my cats staying warm! haha! I think the access to the attic is in a closet, so I don't believe this would do much good here. Love the idea, though!

  22. Hey …. it good ,, I'm stay in Malaysia .. so hot .. well I try it and it done .. so thanks …

  23. can you do this using a whole house fan instead of a box fan?

  24. Yes,very nice video.It works only at arid places..But it doesn't work in sw florida,where the air just so heavy saturated.We can't open windows during summer,because it's like to enter freshly watered green house on a very hot day…winters are fine…

  25. Ill have to try this this summer

  26. This is not a cheap way to cool your house. Probably work in moderate temp area where you don't use ac in summer. If you are using ac you are wasting your money trying to cool mother nature. This is considered purpose force air leak.  All your cool air from ac is forcefully and purposely wasted outside.  This is a very stupid idea for people using ac

  27. wtf kind of science is this?!?!?!? hot air rise and don't sink, cold air sink and don't rise!!! that's why heaters are on the floor and ac are on the ceiling!!!

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  29. We can't do it our one is in the garage

  30. they are called attic fans, my grandparents had one and we would open the windows in the house at night to let air in and it worked really well

  31. AIR CONDITIONER TECHNICIANS HATE HIM!

  32. Pineapple Princess

    aren't soffits for air intake and the other vents on side of house or top or ridge vent for expelling air?

  33. lol your screwed. but i have an attic access like this theres no way in hell id do it. talk about making your spot look like shit lmao

  34. just install a old school attic fan

  35. this is called a whole home fan, and it was popular in the 50's 60's and 70's

    really you should just insulate your attic properly. then you wont be all cold in the winter

  36. Dude, the eave or soffit vents are INTAKE vents for the roof ridge vents. soffit vents are not for air to exit. ie hot air rises. use whirly birds or whatever. What you have "invented" is a whole house fan. They make then that fit between the rafters, and have an insulated damper to prevent backflow of unconditioned air when not in use.

  37. Look up "whole house vent fan" on Google. Hundreds of purpose built products exist for this application. DIY on the cheap is using very sound cooling principles. In order for this to work the attic needs to be vented. Some old houses lack proper venting. Odds are your landlord isn't going to want to spring for a house vent fan. This DIY idea would work very well for a renter. If you own the house I'd consider the purpose built option.

  38. That's all part of the fun.

  39. You use your imagination and improvise.

  40. The Wind Tunnel with remote is pretty cheap and puts out a lot of air. I love the remote when I put it where I can't reach easily. Also there are ceiling vents you can now if you have a evaporative cooler. Letting the hot air on your ceiling escape, almost anyway you can, helps.

  41. Thumbs up just because you did your diagram in crayon. 😀

  42. Jean Baldridge Yates

    Good job. it is the classic concept of a professional installed attic fan, which can be very expensive. I liked the drawings you uses, explaining the heat concept at the beginning as well.

  43. Good idea! I'm just about to do that in my newly purchased house here in Japan. What I'll do is install a fan in the attic on the west side to draw air from the east (cool air). Our house is old and not well insulated so I'm working on that but the fan will be effective right away as the heat wave will be here in a couple of weeks.

  44. make sure you don't have vermiculite aka loose asbestos insulation in the attic the last thing you would want to do is blow it around into the air

  45. Funny, I recently measured and found the similar opening was exactly big enough for a box fan… Glad I saw your video to know it should work.

  46. Ewww!! As someone who literally hates roaches, I understand how this could be traumatic. However, it may be a blessing in disguise that you discovered this previously unknown problem so you could get it exterminated. Maybe once the roach problem is eliminated & cleaned up, you'll be able to implement the fan idea! Good luck!

  47. I suppose this approach wouldn't work well for your particular house. 🙁
    If there's some other way to force air into the attic, it could help you cool the house.

    If it makes you feel better, I've always wanted an attic with a ladder; it's a pain finding the ladder every time I need to go in there.

  48. I have an attic door but it has a ladder attached. how do I do the fan thing without my ladder hanging in the hall

  49. to a certain degree, you're right. If you have a way of forcing outside air into the attic, it might be better.
    However, in my case, I don't have an easy way to foce in outside air, so I use inside air.
    When it gets warm, the air in the house is warm anyways due to the heat radiating through the ceiling, so I don't lose much heat-wise.
    The other thing is that, if I close my upper windows, it pulls air from my cool basement (circulating the cool air).