While our winters in New England are cold, our summers are very hot. Last summer was one of the hottest summers on record. For many, trying to sleep at night is far from relaxing. This feels especially true in our older New England style homes. While the quality of the insulation in the upper levels of a home contribute greatly towards indoor comfort (or lack of), the prime source of all that heat is the bake-oven upstairs known as the attic.
For 99% of us, our roof is a black 1000sf to 2000sf heat sink. Literally millions of BTU’s of energy are hitting our roofs every day in the summer and those black shingles, rather than deflecting that energy, are drawing it in and creating an oven right above our heads. Ask yourself how you feel about standing next to a working oven in the summer and you can guess the answer will be the same about the attic. The role of insulation, whether in the rafter or the floor joists is to stop or slow down that energy (heat) from entering the living space of the home. Naturally, it only makes sense to abate the amount of heat your insulation must handle and while there are a few measures to do this such as replacing your roof with a white surface, the easiest and most cost-effective way is to install a solar-powered attic fan. http://www.seacoastgreenovations.com/products/solartube.aspx
Most, if not all homes, have ridge vents and soffit vents to allow their attics to ventilate. This ventilation serves two purposes, to vent out moisture and to vent out excess heat. The main purpose is to vent out moisture; heat is secondary. Coincidentally, heat is carried on moisture. The problem with these systems is two-fold. For one, they are passive. They don’t actually vent – instead they allow natural ventilation to occur where they are installed. Heat travels in the direction of cold. This is a just a law of physics (energy transferring to where none exists.) So, if your attic temperature is 90 degrees and the air outside suddenly becomes 35 degrees, that hot air will rush out of your attic to energize the cold outside air. If, however, the difference in temperature is not so dramatic – 110 degrees in your attic, 95 degrees outside – the forces driving hot air to cold are weaker and thus less ventilation occurs, passively. But you don’t care about this. You just want the heat out of the house. But you also don’t want to pay an added energy bill. That’s where the Solar Star attic fan comes into play. In fact, the harder the sun works the harder your Solar Star works. It essentially self regulates. Most electric-powered attic ventilators are engaged by a thermostat, so they only work when attic temperatures have already built up. Because of this, thermostat activated units are forced to play catch up with built up heat. Other systems may have a humidistat measuring the moisture level in the attic. This too is a problem because when the humidity levels reach the present activation level, condensation and moisture have already reached a critical point. Finally, such electric operated systems are costly, requiring thermostats and, if you’re not installing this yourself, an electrician to hook up the system after already paying for a carpenter to do the fan installation. The Solar Star will help preserve your roof, create home comfort and save you money otherwise spent on running fans and ac systems.