Winter weather can bring many problems for homeowners, including the dreaded ice dam.

These masses of ice can cause damage to roofs, gutters, and even the interior of your home. While there are many misconceptions about preventing ice dams, one solution that should be considered is using an attic fan.

In this article, we’ll explore the role of attic fans in preventing ice dams, what they can and cannot do to prevent them, and how they can be used in conjunction with other products for added protection.

The Honest Truth

Yes, an attic fan can help prevent ice dams. But it’s not that simple.

Attic ventilation plays an important role in preventing ice dams by circulating air throughout the attic and removing excess heat.

However, it’s important to note that proper insulation, air sealing, regular roof and gutter maintenance, and snow removal are also crucial for preventing ice dams and ensuring the attic fan does what it needs to.

What Are Ice Dams?

Ice dams are a common problem for homeowners in areas with cold winters.

They form when heat from the attic melts the bottom layer of snow on the roof, causing the water to run down to the colder eaves, where it refreezes. This process creates a buildup of ice along the roof’s edge, forming a dam.

The dam prevents further melting snow from flowing off the roof, which can cause the water to back up and leak into the home through the attic or walls. Ice dams can also cause damage to the shingles and gutters and increase the risk of falling icicles.

They typically appear as a significant ice buildup along the roof’s edge, often hanging over the gutters. They can be challenging to remove, and homeowners may need to hire professionals to remove them safely.

To prevent ice dams, homeowners should air seal, insulate and ventilate their attics to keep them closer to the outside temperatures. Additionally, snow should be removed from the roof to prevent ice buildup.

The Role of Attic Ventilation in Preventing Ice Dams

Proper attic ventilation plays a vital role in preventing ice dams. 

Attic ventilation helps keep the attic cool, preventing snow on the roof from melting and refreezing at the eaves. 

An attic fan can be an effective tool in this regard, as it can help to circulate air throughout the attic and remove excess heat. 

However, it’s important to note that proper insulation and air sealing are crucial for preventing ice dams.

The average attic fan moves between 900 and 1500 CFM (cubic feet per minute). This means it can move a significant amount of air through your attic.

The attic fan should be sized based on the square footage of the attic space and the type of ventilation system already in place.

Air sealing is also important to prevent warm air from entering the attic, which can contribute to ice dam formation.

Additional Methods for Added Protection

While an attic fan is an important piece of the puzzle, it is not a miracle worker for preventing ice dams. Other methods include:

  • Seal air leaks: Sealing air leaks around the attic floor can help to prevent warm air from entering the attic and melting the snow on the roof.
  • Proper insulation: Insulation helps to keep the heat in your home from rising into the attic, which can also prevent snow from melting and refreezing.
  • Regular roof and gutter maintenance: Keeping your roof and gutters clean and in good condition can help to prevent ice dams from forming.
  • Snow removal: Carefully removing snow from the roof can also help to prevent ice dams, but it should be done with caution to avoid damaging the roof. Using a roof rake to remove snow from the roof can also help to prevent ice dams, it should be done with caution to avoid damaging the roof.
  • Keep the inside temperature consistent: Keeping the temperature inside the house consistent can help to prevent warm air from entering the attic, which can melt the snow on the roof.


In conclusion, an attic fan is essential for preventing ice dams. When used in conjunction with proper insulation, air sealing, regular roof and gutter maintenance, and snow removal, it can be a powerful solution for protecting your home from the damage caused by ice dams. Awareness of the misconceptions about preventing ice dams from making informed decisions about protecting your home is essential.

Attic fans are used to reduce the air temperature in attic spaces. These fans extend your roof’s life and inhibit the circulation of moldy bacteria-infected air throughout your home.

Inadequate ventilation can lead to a buildup of heat and moisture in your attic, leading to higher operating costs and a toll on your roof. 

Installing an attic fan will help protect the exterior and interior of your home by reducing temperatures and humidity levels in your attic space. They push hot air out of your home while drawing cool air into your attic. Fans are installed on the roof or wall of your attic and are electric, turbine, or solar-powered. 

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Even if your roof already has ridge vents and plenty of built-in ventilation, installing gable fans or roof fans is an excellent idea to help blow hot, humid air out of the attic. 

Before buying a fan, you must decide whether a powered or turbine-style one is best for you. Turbine fans use no energy and rely on the heat rising inside the attic and gentle winds to turn it and vent the attic space. 

Powered attic vent fans need an electrical source of energy that comes either from your home electric system, a solar panel that is mounted on top of the roof unit, or a separate panel for gable-mounted solar attic fans.

  • Fan Energy Source – Electric, solar or turbine.
  • Mounting Location – Roof-mounted or gable-mounted.
  • Controls and Features – Some fans have a built-in thermostat, others have a thermostat, and a humidistat, which monitors the humidity level. 

The size of the unit you purchase is based on the size of the attic space itself. Larger attics will require more significant, more powerful fans. The measure of a fan’s power is called CFM or cubic feet per minute. For example, a 1,000-square-foot attic may only need a fan rated at 700 to 800 CFM, while a 2,000-square-foot attic would need double (1,400 to 1,600 CFM). The higher the CFM, the higher the price.

Types of Attic Fans

Passive Attic Vents

A passive attic fan can cost as low as $20.00 for the unit. You can expect installation to cost about $75-$250. Passive attic fans don’t draw on electricity or any other power source, making them highly cost-effective. However, you can’t connect a passive attic fan to a thermostat, which means you have no control over when and how it operates and can’t accurately regulate the temperature in the attic.

Electric-Powered Attic Fans

Electric-powered fans connect to a thermostat giving you control over the attic’s temperature. However, it needs to be installed by an electrician. The cost typically runs from $100-$1000, depending on your unit and where it’s to be mounted. The thermostat tells the fan when to start/stop so your home stays comfortably cool, even on the hottest days. Because it draws power, an electric fan can increase your electric bill, so look for energy and cost-efficient options.  

Solar-Powered Attic Fans

The typical solar attic fan installation costs about $300 to $1,300, fully installed. While more expensive than electric ones, they cost nothing to operate once installed. Solar-powered attic fans also qualify for federal tax credits. While this is pricier than many other attic fans, solar models are super efficient because they use the sun’s energy instead of electricity. A solar attic fan pays for itself quickly in energy savings and is a good choice if you live in a sunny area.

Dual-Powered Attic Fans

Dual-powered attic fans combine electricity and solar power for high-efficiency operation. Depending on the unit, you’ll spend between $300 and $1,300 for installation. The unit primarily relies on solar power, but the electrical option allows it to run with limited or no sun exposure. This premium attic fan uses the sun’s energy as its primary power source. But, if there isn’t enough sunlight to adequately power the fan, it switches to electric power—the best of both worlds.

Roof Turbine

Roof turbines are more efficient than passive fans and cost $100 to $150 to install. They work with your home’s airflow and spin based on air pressure. Because a roof turbine fan doesn’t use electricity, it’s more energy efficient, but again there is no thermostat, so the temperature cannot be controlled. The one drawback is that the water may enter the attic through the turbine in severe rain. If your area is prone to heavy rain or snow, there may be better options than his 

Humidistat and Thermostat

Most powered attic fans come with a thermostat, which controls when the fan turns on and off based on reaching a pre-set temperature. These run around $100 to $300 each, and installation costs around $100. Electric units without a thermostat run between $80 and $100. 

You can buy a separate thermostat/humidistat controller for $40 to $50. Since attics account for up to 20% of the average cooling bill, fans that turn on and off automatically (with the help of a thermostat) are a worthwhile investment. More expensive models include a humidistat as well. 

Attic fans with thermostats protect the home against mold, mildew, peeling paint, decaying shingles, and warped beams/floorboards. 

Attic Fan Cost Factors

The Attic Fan 

For the fan unit itself, you can estimate the following:

  • $50 – $100 | Non-Powered Turbine Style Vent
  • $65 – $150 | Electric Powered Roof or Gable Mounted Fans
  • $120 – $500 | Solar Powered Roof or Gable Vent Fans

Cost of Fan Installation Supplies

Regardless of your chosen model, you will need certain supplies to install it. You will not need electrical supplies for a turbine or solar-powered model. 

  • $35 – $100 | Electrical wire, junction boxes, and an on/off switch. (For electric-powered fans)
  • $10 – $20 | Roof cement or sealant to seal around the mounting location and prevent roof leaks.
  • $15 – $100 | For gable-mounted vents, you’ll want an automatic shutter mounted on the exterior of your home to open when the fan is on.
  • $15 – $50 | Miscellaneous installation supplies like 2×4 wood, screws, nails, wire staples, plywood, etc.

Permits and Inspection 

Powered attic fans are often subject to local laws or regulations and require electrical inspections. This is a safety precaution to ensure that the power is connected correctly and that there is no risk of electrical fires or a circuit overload. Typical inspections cost $75-$200.

Labor Costs

Some companies charge a fixed price for installing attic fans, while others charge an hourly rate per person. Installation may also require the expertise of more than one type of contractor, for example, an electrician and a roofer.

Labor rates vary based on the type of fan to install, the features of your attic and roof, and the contractor’s experience level. A licensed, experienced roofer typically charges between $45 and $150 per hour and will need about 2-3 hours to complete the work. 

If your attic doesn’t have a vent or needs modification to fit a gable-mounted unit, you will need to hire a carpenter. Carpenters charge between $10 and $150 per hour, depending on their experience level. They charge around $70 per hour and need only 2-3 hours. 

You may also need to hire an electrician to connect your electric or solar unit to your home’s electricity source. Wiring takes about an hour at approximately $50 to $150 per hour.

The condition of your attic will also contribute to the installation cost. Contractors may increase their hourly rates if it’s difficult to access your attic. It’s wise to clear some space if you have things stored up there. Areas with a higher cost of living will generally have higher labor costs for attic fan installation.

If moisture has wreaked havoc on the floorboards, your contractor will have to take extra precautions during the installation, potentially making the project take longer and more expensive.

Most pros will perform an initial inspection before they quote the work. 

To estimate the time it will take for the installation, use the following guideline: 

  • 1-2 hours: Replace an existing unit with the same or similar one. 
  • 2-4 hours: Typical installation time for replacements and new attic fans, without needing to add electrical service, wiring, etc.
  • 4-8 hours: Difficult installations or where new electric service needs to be run to the fan. This may require cutting a hole into the roof or the side of the gable. 

Final thoughts: No matter how you look at it or how expensive it is to install, attic fans are significant cost savings and essential to the overall maintenance of your home, inside and out.

Attic fans are a great way to keep your home comfortable and energy-efficient, but to maximize their potential, you need to pay attention to the temperature settings.

The thermostat on your attic fan plays a crucial role in controlling the temperature in your attic and ensuring that your fan works as effectively as possible.

By understanding the optimal temperature settings for your attic fan, you can protect your home and belongings, improve the performance of your HVAC system, and save money on utilities.

This article will delve into the importance of attic fan thermostats and explain why controlling the temperature setting is essential for maintaining a comfortable and energy-efficient home.

What Are Attic Fans?

An attic fan is installed above a living space to pull the air from the floors below.  Attic fans draw hot, moist air out of your attic, creating a vacuum effect that brings fresh, cool air up from your basement and lower floors through your house. Having one creates fresh air and releases stale air that can harbor mold or allergens. It also helps your HVAC system work more efficiently-often, resulting in cost savings on utilities.

It seems counterproductive to add insulation for warmth and then let the cold air in; however, this is essential for, and the key to, an energy-efficient home. In winter, keeping the attic cold can prevent freezing gutters or ice damming. In summer, the natural flow of air in a well-vented attic removes hot air from the attic, protecting roof shingles and removing moisture.

Essentially, attic fans help control the attic’s temperature, preventing damage to the home, inside and out.

How Are Attic Fans Powered?

Electrically Powered

The most common type of attic fan is electrically powered. These fans are connected to the home’s electrical system. They are either installed as a roof-mounted fan or vertically on the gable wall of the house.


Solar-powered attic fans use the sun’s energy to power the fan.  Solar panels may be integrated with the fan or be attached by a separate cable. Solar fans usually do not have adjustable thermostats and turn on as soon as the sun comes out. This might be your best solution if your home gets a lot of sunlight.


If your home is in a windy area, wind turbines are a good choice as they wind operated and do not use electricity.

What is an Attic Fan Thermostat?

An attic fan thermostat is a device that controls the temperature in your attic by regulating the operation of your attic fan. It monitors the temperature in your attic and turns the fan on or off based on the temperature.

The thermostat can be set to a specific temperature range, usually between 90 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit, and will turn the fan on when the attic temperature exceeds that range. The thermostat can also be connected to other systems in your home, such as your HVAC system, to work in tandem with them to maintain optimal temperature and humidity levels throughout your home.

Attic fan thermostats are an essential component of attic fan systems. They ensure that the fan runs when needed, conserving energy and keeping your attic at the right temperature to prevent damage to your home.

Why Use an Attic Thermometer?

Attic fan thermostats are not always 100% accurate, so we recommend installing a regular thermometer in the attic so you can quickly gauge if the fan thermostat is working by comparing the temperatures.

This thermometer should be installed on a rafter in the middle of the attic. If your attic thermometer is 20 degrees higher than the exterior and your attic fan is not working, you may need to adjust the attic fan thermostat lower.

Optimal Attic Fan Temperature Settings

Generally, most attic fan thermostats should be set at 90 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

The goal is to have the attic temperature be about the same as the exterior temperature. The correct attic fan temperature setting will help prevent the attic from getting dangerous heat levels. The exact temperature will depend on where you live, the size of the attic, and the kind of insulation used. For example, a home in the heat of a Florida summer will have a different setting than one in Chicago.

If the thermostat setting is too high, the attic fan won’t turn on or will only run for a short time. If the temperature setting is too low, the attic fan will run constantly and waste energy. Ideally, you want your attic to be close in temperature to the home’s exterior.

If the attic temperature is 10-15 degrees above the exterior temperature, you know you have an excessive heat problem.

Why Temperature Settings Are Important

The correct temperature will protect your home and its belongings. Excess heat or humidity can take a toll on furniture, flooring, and personal items like photo albums and clothing.

To preserve your AC or central cooling system. If the heat in the attic is soaring, it can hinder your AC unit’s performance, causing it to produce warmer air than required to cool down the home.

If you find that your attic is overheating even with a fan, we recommend getting a contractor to come and examine the state, type, and level of attic insulation you have. Not only will this help save money and energy, but it will keep your home comfortable all year long.

Why the Attic Fan Temperature is Important.

The number one and best reason is for the comfort of the residence and residents and the protection of belongings. 

A cooler attic makes the entire home more comfortable. Additionally, your HVAC system can work less hard, saving energy. Homes with overly hot attics may never reach their target temperature making the house very uncomfortable, especially on the second and upper levels.

Secondly, it helps extend the life of your HVAC system. Since your HVAC isn’t running as hard, it can be more efficient and will last longer. When the A/C is constantly running, it wears down its components, not to mention increasing your electricity bill.

Thirdly, controlling your attic temperature can help extend the life of your asphalt roof. Asphalt shingles are an oil-derived product and these molecules lose their elasticity when heated up. For example, on a hot summer day, if your attic is at 160 degrees with poor ventilation, this will actually “cook” the shingles, making them crack and become brittle, not to mention fading and changing the color of your roof. 

And lastly, the correct attic fan setting will help avoid damage caused by moisture which can result in mold and other macrobiotic allergens and germs. Mold needs three things to grow: moisture, food, and darkness. And improperly ventilated attics have all three.

Adjusting the Attic Fan Thermostat

Today, many fans are “smart” fans connected via WIFI to your smartphone so you can adjust the temperature from just about anywhere.

However, most fans have a small metal box mounted next to the fan in the attic. On this small metal box, a little dial is used to adjust the temperature setting. All it takes to change the temperature is a flathead screwdriver that you use to “dial” to the desired temperature.

Most attic fans have thermostat dials ranging from 60 degrees to around 120 degrees.

If you aren’t sure whether the attic fan is working, you have to adjust the temperature dial to above the current attic temperature. If the attic is around 90 degrees, then just as you hit 90 degrees, the attic fan should turn on. Consequently, adjusting the dial to below 90 degrees should cause the attic fan to shut off.

Frequently Asked Questions

What temperature should I turn off attic fan?

The temperature at which you turn off your attic fan will depend on the specific thermostat settings that you have chosen.

Typically, attic fan thermostats are set to turn off the fan when the attic temperature falls within a specific range, usually between 90 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is the optimal temperature range for most attic fans, as it helps to prevent the attic from getting too hot and causing damage to your home.

Should attic fans run all the time?

Ideally, attic fans should run all the time to provide constant steady airflow and ventilation in the attic, as this helps to remove hot and humid air and prevent damage to your home.

However, electric-powered attic fans often have thermostats that turn the fan off when it gets cooler. This helps to reduce run time and lower costs.

Solar-powered attic fans, on the other hand, can run all the time as they use solar energy to power the fan and do not rely on electricity. This can be an advantage as it ensures a constant and steady airflow and ventilation in the attic.

Final Thoughts

The ideal attic temperature setting is 90 to 110 degrees, but it depends on where your house is located in the country, the size of the home, the type and degree of attic insulation, and the season. Ideally, you want to keep your interior attic temperature within around 10 degrees of the exterior temperature.

It’s a good idea to install an additional attic thermometer in the middle of the attic so you can accurately gauge whether the fan thermostat is working.

Whether it’s the middle of summer or the dead of winter, maintaining the attic temperature is a must for the comfort of your home and the people inside it.

As the weather gets warmer, an even hotter topic always gets brought up: is an attic fan worth it? Some people swear by them, while others call them a waste of money.

But do attic fans make a difference? Should you get them in your home?

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We’re here to settle the debate once and for all. But the truth isn’t super cut and dry.

Your satisfaction with attic fans will depend on several factors, such as:

  • The climate you live in
  • The kind of attic fan you install
  • Your goal (energy savings vs. comfort vs. ventilation)
  • Air sealing

This article will tell you everything you need to know about attic fans and what kind of attic fan may work right for your home. That way, you can decide: “Do attic fans make a difference?”

What Are Attic Fans?

What Are Attic Fans?

Before we tell you about these fans, let’s talk about what they are.

Attic fans are perfectly named and give you a vivid picture of what they are: fans for attics. They are one of the more popular types of attic vents. When installed on the ceiling of your attic, they circulate the air in your attic.

The fan takes the hot and humid air in your attic, circulates it, and pushes it out of the house’s upper space. This way, hot, stale air under your roof isn’t sitting over your home. This is known as air exchange.

While a fan in a home’s attic works hand in hand with any roof or HVAC system, it is not a required component of an HVAC installation. They need separate installation, which varies widely depending on the type of attic fan, labor, and other required work.

You may wonder why you should bother installing these fans if it’s not required. What people love about these fans is the pressure they take off HVAC systems. Keeping hot and humid out of your attic before it radiates down into the living space is good for several reasons.

But do attic fans work? Let’s talk more about what they do and how they could help your home.

How Do Attic Fans Work?

How Do Attic Fans Work?

There are many big claims about attic fans. You’ll hear how they can cool your house in the summer and keep your home nice and dry during the darkest, snowiest winters.

But how accurate are these claims, and do attic fans really help? Let’s get into the specifics of how these fans work.

We mentioned the air exchange, which means the fans push hot, humid air out in the summer. As attics reach 150-160 degrees, much hotter than outside, this can warm your house overall. You can even take your attic’s temperature to see how hot yours is. Alternatively, you can schedule an attic inspection to get more detailed insights from thermal imaging tools.

The hotter an attic is, the warmer the home will be during the summer. This means you’ll constantly increase how frequently you use your air conditioning.

However, by expelling the hot air, an attic fan brings your attic closer to the outside temperature. Your air conditioner can work on cooling your house rather than working against the air coming from your attic.

These fans also have some benefits in the winter. Often during colder months, the warm air from your home meets the cold air just under your roof. Check out our detailed post for more information on when to use an attic fan.

This could lead to excessive moisture and damage your roof from mold or ice damming. The fan will circulate the air, which could prevent any of this excessive moisture and potential damage.

How Attic Fans Don’t Work

How Attic Fans Don't Work

Now that we’ve shown how these fans work let’s discuss what they don’t do.

Many people may get caught up in the promises of a fan, especially when it comes to energy savings. Maybe you’ve been told that an attic fan will cool your home in the hottest months, so much so that you can turn off your air conditioner.

But do attic fans cool down a house all on their own?


An attic fan cools and ventilates the attic, bringing the space closer to outside temperatures. This helps keep that hot air from passing into your primary living space. Because of this, you will feel more comfortable during the summer and likely not need to run your air conditioning as much. This can provide some energy savings relief.

However, running an electric fan in your attic means you still have to pay for the electricity so it can operate.

So, are attic fans good or bad? Will the costs to power the fan outweigh the benefit of energy savings? For electric-powered fans, possibly.
Fortunately, there are modern alternatives to get the benefits of active ventilation without paying for electricity.

How Solar Attic Fans Are Different

How Solar Attic Fans Are Different

Solar attic fans work like electric fans and have all the same benefits. The difference is that you only pay for them after you pay to install them. They run on solar energy. So the only thing powering your attic fan is the sun rather than your electrical system.

With a solar fan in your attic, you can take the pressure off your air conditioning without paying for it in your attic. Unlike electric attic fans, this saves you money every month, especially in the hottest weeks of summer.

If you’ve been promised lots of savings with an electric attic fan, it’s understandable that you would be skeptical. But a solar attic fan will do everything you want your electric unit to do. It will push out hot air in the summer. It has been scientifically proven to cool the attic by an average of 20 degrees in hot climates. And it will keep your attic dry in the winter, preventing future costly roofing and maintenance issues.

Solar works all year round, so you won’t need to worry about your electric bill going up because you’re powering your fan in the hottest months. Your fan will run for 12 months of the year without costing you a dime after installation.

Read our review on the best solar attic fans.

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The Pros and Cons of an Attic Fan

Pros and Cons of Attic Fans

Now you know everything there is to know about how attic fans work, and you may be getting a good idea of whether it may be right for your home. But are attic fans good or bad?

We’ve laid out the pros and cons to give you the best idea of whether they would be a good fit for your home. Knowing the benefits and disadvantages will help you decide if fans in your attic would work in your home.

The Benefits of an Attic Fan

  • Increase energy efficiency. By cooling down your attic, you can decrease your air conditioning. Your air conditioner is currently having to work against the sauna sitting on top of your living space. Give it a hand by cooling your home’s upper space to outdoor temperatures before your turn up the AC.
  • Cool down a second story in your home. If you often find the second story is never as cool as your first one, this could be due to heat radiating down from the attic into your living space. With proper air sealing techniques and sufficient insulation, an attic fan helps prevent that heat from entering your home, keeping your upstairs more cool and comfortable.
  • Decrease the possibility of damage to your roof. In colder months, the moist, warm air from your home interacts with the cold air under your roof, creating moisture and condensation that sits under your roof. Moisture is the enemy of a strong roof and could lead to expensive damage.
  • Supports your attic insulation. Excessive heat and humidity can lead to the depletion of your attic’s insulation. An attic fan removes hot, humid air from the attic, taking pressure off your insulation materials.
  • Solar fans are free to run. Get your power from the sun, and don’t pay after installation. The day after you install it, you can forget it’s there and reap the benefits.

The Disadvantages of an Attic Fan

  • Electric fans can be costly to operate, depending on what you pay for power. Any savings you get from reducing your use of your air conditioning, you may see that money in your electric bill for operating the fan.
  • Poor installation can lead to roof leaks, resulting in more expensive issues.
  • For maximum financial benefit and comfort, you’ll need to ensure that your attic is properly air sealed and insulated.
  • Won’t cool your entire house. These fans circulate air and push out hot air from your attic. While this helps to cool the top of the house and can reduce the hot air entering your home, it will not actively cool your house in the hottest months.

When Should You Use an Attic Fan?

When Should You Use an Attic Fan?

An attic fan can be a beneficial addition to your home.

In general, attic fans can be used all year round to remove heat and moisture from the attic. However, they’re used primarily in the summer to eliminate extra heat and cool the attic, which can help cool your home by preventing heat from radiating into the living area.

During summer, attics can get as hot as 150 degrees. Preferably, they should be at most 100 degrees to prevent damage and issues with cooling down the rest of your home, but ideally, you want your attic to be as close as possible to the outside temperature.

Knowing when to use an attic fan can help you keep your home cooler, extend the life of your roof, and save you money on your energy bills.

If your attic is not ventilated well, the heat can build up in your attic and cause damage to your roof. An attic fan can help circulate the air and keep the temperature down.

If the humidity is high, the air in your attic can become moist and cause mold and mildew to grow. Running an attic fan can help remove moisture from the air and prevent this from happening.

Remember, you want your attic temperature to be close to the outside air temperature. You should consider running a fan to remove excess heat and moisture if it is.

Conclusion — Do Attic Fans Really Work?

Now that you have all the information about attic fans, it’s time to decide: Do they really work?

Based on our industry experience, the answer is yes. Attic fans do work. They will help circulate air in your attic and ventilate the space, so it stays closer to the outside temperature. Attics can reach incredibly high temperatures in the hot summer months and gather excessive moisture in the winter. Attic fans will help fight these problems.

Do they deliver a ton of energy savings? That answer will ultimately depend on where you live, the type of fan you install, and whether or not your attic is air sealed.

For those who live in cold or temperate climates that never touch 80 degrees, an attic fan may not be worth the installation price (if you’re only concerned about energy savings). Passive roof vents may be sufficient, and if your goal is to obtain energy savings, consider air sealing or adding insulation.

There is also the debate over electric vs. solar fans. Electric fans do what they’re supposed to, but you need to factor in the average cost to power them. Many electric-powered attic fans also only come with a 1-3 year warranty on materials, so you’ll likely need to replace them at some point. Solar fans will work year-round without costing you any money and also come with more extended warranties.

So, do attic fans really work? Yes! But it ultimately depends on what your goals are. If you’re looking for significant energy savings, you’ll need to leverage a fan with other practices like adding insulation and air sealing the attic. If you’re looking to add ventilation to help improve comfort and protect your roof, just installing an attic fan will help.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do attic fans make a difference?

Yes, attic fans can make a difference in several ways.

A properly installed attic fan can remove the excessive heat build-up in the summer, cooling an attic space. This helps reduce the pressure on your insulation systems, preventing unwanted heat transfer into your living space. This ultimately makes your home feel cooler while alleviating the work that your air conditioning system needs to do.

In the winter, attic fans can also make a big difference by removing heat and moisture that escapes from the home. This helps prevent things like mold growth and ice damming.

Do attic fans really cool down a house?

Yes, attic fans can help your house feel cooler on hot days. With that being said, they are not going to cool your entire home.

To maximize an attic fan’s cooling benefit, ensure you have enough insulation in your attic and air seal all of the cracks and gaps. Other cooling techniques such as running ceiling fans, switching light bulbs over to LED, installing energy-efficient windows, and using smart thermostats are also good ways to help keep your home cool.

Do attic fans help AC?

Yes, attic fans can help with air conditioning (AC) by reducing the burden on the AC system. By removing hot and humid air from the attic space, attic fans can help to keep the attic cooler, reducing the amount of work required from the AC system to cool the home. This, in turn, can result in lower energy bills and reduced wear and tear on the AC system, potentially extending its lifespan.

Do attic fans help prevent mold?

Yes, attic fans can help prevent mold growth by removing moisture from the attic space. Mold thrives in moist and humid environments, and by removing humidity, attic fans can reduce the risk of mold growth. However, it is important to note that attic fans are not a cure-all for mold prevention and that proper insulation, ventilation, and moisture control are also important factors in preventing mold growth in the home.

Are attic fans good or bad?

Attic fans are good at what they do: removing unwanted heat and moisture from an attic.

They have earned a bad reputation because of poor quality products, installation, and education. There also needs to be a fundamental understanding of their benefits. Generally, a high-quality attic fan can provide ongoing active ventilation to protect your roof, support insulation systems, and help give some cooling benefits in certain climates.

Should an attic fan run all the time?

Running an attic fan all the time, in theory, is a good idea. You want your attic to be close to the outside temperature. However, if you have a powered attic fan, you may want it to run only some of the time because of the electric costs. In this case, setting a timer or thermostat might be worth consideration. Alternatively, a solar-powered attic fan can provide constant air flow if there is sunlight to keep it running. This is an excellent solution to getting the most benefit from a fan without worrying about operating costs.

Energy efficiency has become a hot topic, especially with rising utility costs and extreme weather conditions across the country.

Aside from the environmental impact of using a ton of electricity, there’s also a lot to be said about how much conserving energy can save you on your electricity bills.

Central air conditioning is one of the biggest household contributors to high energy costs. If you live in an especially hot climate, you’re likely paying hundreds just to keep your house cool, especially in the summertime.

Luckily, there are alternative ways to cool your home for a lower price. Is an attic fan one of them?

Here, we look at the facts and answer the question: do attic fans use a lot of electricity?

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How much power does an electric attic fan use on average?

On average, an attic fan uses less than 300 watts of electricity.

If it were to run constantly, it would use up to about 180 kWh per month, but attic fans typically run intermittently to equalize inside and outside temperatures.

Unfortunately, this cost can add up over time. Though operating an electric attic fan has an average cost of $2-$3 per month, adding a humidistat that measures the amount of moisture in the attic can add another $90-$150.

Should attic fans run all the time?

No, attic fans do not need to run all the time. During the summer months or in hot climates, you may notice that your attic fan is running more often to disperse the warm air buildup in your attic. In general, you will notice the most benefits from running your attic fan during the day.

Should I turn off my attic fan in the winter?

No, you shouldn’t turn your attic fan off in the winter. Attic ventilation is a crucial element in every homeowner’s maintenance plan. Because attic fans are controlled by a thermostat, you can set them to your ideal attic temperature. Proper attic ventilation allows air to circulate while preventing moisture buildup. Reducing moisture can work to prevent ice dams or ice build-up on the eaves of sloped roofs.

What temperature should I set my attic fan?

Attic fans should be set to a temperature that feels most comfortable for you and your living spaces, but manufacturers typically recommend setting it between 90 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit. In general, it’s a good idea to set your fan to a higher temperature than the ambient temperature outside to avoid it burning out.

Attic fans vs other household appliances

When you compare the electric attic fan’s energy usage to the around 350-7500 watts that most of your other electric household items use, it seems pretty efficient.

The average refrigerator 1.4kWh of electricity per day or 41kWh per month.

A space heater uses a significant amount of electrical energy, about 1,500 watts.

A microwave uses about 1,200 watts per hour, though you probably don’t run your microwave for hours at a time.

Is it cheaper to run an attic fan or air conditioning?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the cost of running an attic fan or air conditioning will vary depending on the size of your home, the climate, and other factors. However, in general, it is often cheaper to run an attic fan than air conditioning. Opting for a solar-powered attic fan can reduce your energy bills even more. You can compare average costs in the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s comprehensive report.

Does an attic fan use less electricity than AC?

The answer is a resounding yes. A central air conditioning system can use upwards of 3,500 watts per hour when in cooling mode. Even when your AC is on fan-only mode, it still uses 750 watts per hour, more than twice the electricity of the average attic fan.

One of the primary reasons people use attic fans is to keep their homes cooler during the hot summer months to reduce the strain on their HVAC systems.

By adding an attic fan to the equation, your central air conditioning system has to do less work, which means less electricity is used. Essentially, you get more bang for your buck when using an attic fan.

A solar-powered alternative to the electric attic fan

If you’re looking for a way to get the cooling benefits of an attic fan without incurring additional energy costs, the answer is clear: solar power. Solar-powered attic fans don’t even require you to install solar panels. Nearly all solar-powered attic fans have panels built-in, so installation is a breeze.

There are plenty of solar-powered attic fans out there that double down on energy savings, allowing you to save on AC electricity while using the sun to power the fan itself.


Attic fans don’t use much electricity compared to other household items. By adding an attic fan to your home, you could save a lot of money on your energy bills, improve the comfort of your living spaces, reduce your attic temperature, mitigate ice damming throughout the winter, and minimize the strain on your HVAC system.