How an attic fan is leading the way to a cooler, greener tomorrow
Bill Keith was on to something, long before it seemed fashionable to do so. Over ten years ago, the Indiana native developed an attic fan that would lead to the creation of his current company, SunRise Solar Attic Fans, in 2003. And now, his success has garnered acclaim from the national media, as well as the White House. Senator Richard Lugar even bestowed upon Keith the title of ‘Energy Patriot’ for his efforts in helping reduce this country’s dependence on foreign energy sources. This is just the tip of the iceberg in recognition, but about those fans……….
Why solar fans?
Heat and moisture is an attic’s worst enemy. During summer months, an attic can exceed 160°. When this space overheats, a shingled roof’s underside will naturally heat up, causing unnecessary wear and tear on those shingles with the real prospect of shortening their life span before the end of the warranty period.Moisture presents its own problems. Normal activities such as showering and cooking produce water vapor that migrates into the attic, promoting mold and mildew growth. This can saturate insulation, leading to fungal decay and destruction of your roof frame and decking.
A typical attic fan uses about 350-400 watts per day and usually doesn’t run until a temperature of 100-115 degrees is reached. They will run until the temperature dips about 10-20 degrees below the starting temperature. But the problem is this – once your attic is allowed to get to 100+ degrees, it will be a losing battle to cool the attic space, as this process is happening during the hottest part of the day. Also, the running of these electric fans consumes about $10-$20/mo. in energy costs.
In contrast, solar fans run from sunrise to sunset, keeping the heat build-up at bay, and cutting cooling bills for an average home by about 30%. In the winter, the fans run gently to remove damp air, reducing ice damming and extending the life of roof shingles. It is all self contained without any external wiring and can be installed in a reasonably short period of time on most roofs. Currently, these solar fans qualify for a 30% federal tax credit and, depending on the state where purchased, may be subject to $100-$200 rebate where utility companies promote them as energy peak-shavers.
Keeping It Local
SunRise currently has 24 employees, but is steadfast in using parts for manufacturing the fans from Indiana and surrounding states. Even after consultants advised that parts and labor would be cheaper elsewhere, Keith is adamant about building his fans, along with the economy, in the US even if it meant reducing his profit margin. Says Keith, “I breathe Indiana air; my kids go to Indiana schools; I want to employ my neighbors.”
Its clear Keith’s vision is to produce his product domestically and in his own state. He explains that having everything right in Indiana — raw goods, workers, right down the supply chain — keeps the whole economy going, and everyone in the community can prosper. The primary goal is to produce everything locally and thereby keep everyone working.
The benefits of solar attic ventilation are numerous, while making our world a cleaner and better place to live. Consider letting the sun cool your attic space and save you money.