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Solar Attic Fans Help Prevent Home Damage While Lowering Your Electric Bill

By Dan Kennedy © 2011, All Rights Reserved

Your attic has an important job to do. Aside from acting as a storage locker for old Christmas ornaments and out-of-style prom dresses, it also holds up the roof and helps keep your house warm in the winter. But left uncared for, your attic can quickly turn into a bottomless money pit – unless solar attic fans are employed as a preventative measure. Here's why.

Does Your Attic Show These Signs of Trouble?

Moisture in your attic can come from a leaky roof, or from household appliances that create steam which travels upward to condense on the underside of your roof. Wherever it originates, though, excessive moisture is a cause for concern, as it can damage the structure of your home, or even be a health hazard for your family. Mold and rot can quickly spread to other areas of your home, hiding unseen in your walls until damage is extensive – and expensive to repair. Just as you should inspect your electrical, furnace, and other household systems periodically, so should you take a close look at your attic.

At least once a year, grab your flashlight and head into the attic. Look for water stains around the chimney or other openings, inspect any protruding nails for rust, and keep an eye out for mold and mildew. Insulation should appear dry and puffy, not damp or flat.

Moisture isn't the only attic danger, either. Summer heat can cause the temperature in your attic to soar, which can dry rafters, resulting in warping and cracks. Extreme temperatures inside also shorten the life of asphalt shingles, so be sure to inspect your roof as well. In addition, super-heated attic air can force your air conditioner to work overtime, driving up your electric bill.

Solutions for Common Attic Issues

In an effort to combat the oven-like temperatures in a typical attic, builders install soffit or ridge vents. Because heat rises, theoretically it should escape through these openings. The reality, however, is that the air in your attic must first heat to the point of expansion before it will be forced out of a vent. By the time that happens, the wood and plaster used to construct your home have warmed, and are transferring the heat of the attic into your living space.

Solar attic fans work to reduce the heat in your home by mechanically moving air through your attic. Unlike a simple vent, fans force the hot air out, reducing the temperature by up to 15 degrees, and helping to prevent the heat from radiating throughout your home. In addition to keeping the heat at bay in the summer, fans help prevent moisture build-up in the cooler months, reducing the risk of mold and rotting lumber. And, unlike typical fans, solar attic fans don’t require electricity to work, so you won’t see an increase in your utility bills.

Tax Benefits for Homeowners

Another major advantage solar attic fans have over their traditional counterparts is tax savings. As part of the economic stimulus package, the government offers a 30% tax credit on qualified energy upgrades. That's not a deduction, it's a rebate, so it's equivalent to an automatic savings of 30% on any improvements you make to your home's energy efficiency, up to $1500.

Since there's no need for an electrical hookup, solar powered attic fans are easy to install, cost nothing to operate, and help protect your home without damaging the environment. Combine their cooling power with a careful inspection of your attic, and you will prevent problems like moisture and excessive heat from damaging your home's structure and shortening the life of your roof. And thanks to lower electric bills and a higher tax refund, you'll enjoy some extra cash in your pocket as well.

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