Whole House Fan vs. Attic Fan

Large attic fan in steel casing ready for installation in residential home.
Last updated: 9/16/2023

Improving your home’s air circulation can make every room more comfortable and play a role in lowering your energy bills. If you’re considering adding a whole house fan or attic fan to get more out of your existing HVAC system, deciding which option best suits your needs matters. Here’s what you need to know.

What To Consider Before Selecting a Whole House Fan or Attic Fan

Deciding between a whole house fan and attic fan comes down to several factors, including:

  • The size of your home
  • Seasonal weather variations
  • Energy efficiency goals
  • In-home humidity levels

Whole House Fan Pros and Cons

Whole house fans can be used with your existing air conditioning system or run alone when temperatures aren’t too hot.


  • Better air circulation– Whole house fans improve airflow by actively drawing in the fresh air and removing stale air. While not as noticeable as a box fan, whole house fans provide a subtle cooling breeze. These units can replace the air in your home up to six times per hour, depending on the size of your home.
  • Energy efficiency– Whole house fans use considerably less energy than traditional air conditioners – up to 33% less. The energy savings compared to an attic fan are negligible, but since whole house fans are turned on manually, they may use slightly more power if you aren’t careful about turning the fan off when it isn’t needed.


  • Price– Whole house fans are typically more expensive to install due to the need to circulate more air more often. These devices require as much as four times the area needed by an attic fan. Most homeowners don’t mind the additional footprint since it’s in the attic and out of the way, but the size of the installation project contributes to the price of installation.
  • Seasonal Needs– Whole house fans are much more effective when outdoor temperatures are cooler than indoor temperatures. For homeowners in more temperate parts of the US, like the Midwest, whole house fans are an excellent option; they can be run during cool nights and turned off if outdoor temperatures are too warm. This isn’t an option in warmer climates where overnight temperatures or high humidity reduce their effectiveness.
  • Humidity– Regions with higher levels of humidity can also pose challenges for whole house fans. Whole house fans pull in outdoor air and deliver it to the attic, an area of the home notorious for humidity. Elevated humidity levels can cause mold and mildew, contributing to poor indoor air quality. As a result, whole house fans may require homeowners to take proactive and potentially energy-intensive measures to lower humidity, such as running a dehumidifier.

Always trust a professional to evaluate how effective a whole house fan can be for your home. Contact your local Aire Serv® for an in-home consultation as a part of our whole house fan installation service.

Related Topic:What Is a Whole House Fan and How Does a Whole House Fan Work?

Attic Ventilation Fan Pros and Cons

Attic fans are installed in the ceiling and are designed to remove the hot air that rises into your attic. The hot air is then vented outside through the attic eaves.


  • More affordable– Attic fans are the more cost-effective option because they do not require additional ventilation. This makes an attic fan more financially accessible than a whole house fan in most instances.
  • Curb appeal– Attic fans are much less visible from your home’s exterior, making it more appealing to homeowners with a keen eye for home aesthetics. In many cases, the attic fan vent will be installed close to or behind the existing vent, making it almost impossible to spot.
  • Automatic– Attic fans can be programmed like your HVAC system’s thermostat. A temperature sensor in the attic controls the unit’s functionality, ensuring it only runs when needed. Compared to manual whole-house fans, which are turned on and off manually, attic fans are easier to use.
  • Humidity– Attic fans can reduce humidity levels in your attic, lowering the risk of developing mold or mildew.


  • Cooling– Attic fans are not as efficient as whole house fans when it comes to lowering your home’s temperature. While it can remove warm air, attic fans don’t introduce cool air, which means homeowners in warmer climates will still rely on air conditioning units.
  • Energy Costs– While running an attic fan isn’t more energy intensive than a whole house fan; you won’t see substantial energy savings. That’s because you may need to run your home’s existing air conditioning system more often than in a home with a whole house fan. How often you need to use your AC depends on personal preference, weather patterns, and the effectiveness of your attic insulation, just to name a few factors.

See if an attic fan is right for your home with our attic exhaust fan installation services.

Related Topic:What Is An Attic Fan and What Does an Attic Fan Do?

How To Choose the Right Fan for Your Home

First, consider the main difference between a whole house fan and an attic fan: purpose. A whole house fan will be the better choice for cooling your home, whereas an attic fan is the better option to ventilate warm air gathered in the attic and to lower humidity levels. Then, weigh the pros and cons based on this purpose and your home cooling needs. From there, you can consider what will be the most cost- and energy-efficient choice.

You may not have to choose, though; attic fans and whole house fans can work together to improve airflow, lower attic humidity levels, and provide considerable energy savings by reducing your AC unit run time.

Regardless, can always trust the team at Aire Serv and our experienced HVAC professionals to help determine the right type of fan for your home.

Let Aire Serv Help You Choose

Both whole house fans and attic fans provide home-cooling benefits with a lower energy footprint than air conditioning units. Consider your home’s climate and your unique needs, and talk to an experienced Aire Serv professional to help decide the right fan for your home. To get stated or learn more, call or request an appointment today.