The Versatility of Box Fans


While a Des Moines summer can get fairly uncomfortable, our lows are pleasant enough for outdoor ventilation in the mornings and some evenings. A great way to save on utilities during the summer is to utilize box fans to help with home ventilation. Box fans are an inexpensive and easy way to keep the house cool and maintain a healthy IAQ (indoor air quality) throughout the season. Window fans are a valid alternative for people who live in climates that experience mild summers, unfortunately, they are not compatible with our heat (and often high humidity). But box fans can be used in the same way, for the same effect, and also offer a versatility that the stationary window fans can’t afford. If you are thinking about trying out some box fans for alternative cooling, we’ve compiled a few essential tips for maximizing their value.


In order to maximize the ventilation power of a box fan, there are a few things that you should be mindful of before you begin. The best time to schedule ventilation is early in the morning on a cool day with low humidity. You will want to open two windows, preferably on opposite sides of the house with no walls to interfere with the flow of air (this is ideal, though not mandatory). After you have opened both windows, place a box fan in or near one of the window screens with the blades facing out. The fan will draw out the hot air out of the house while the second open window will pull in fresh air. Note that box fans are not made to withstand the elements, so make sure that there is nothing in the air (humidity, dust, pollen) that will compromise the motor.

Boosting the Conditioned Air

A ceiling fan is a great way to help keep cooling costs down, as using one while your AC is on will allow you to raise the thermostat by 3-5 degrees without compromising on comfort. A box fan can be used in a similar way, though it’s not as effective as having the circulated air from above, the right placement can boost the cool air in a room and achieve a similar effect. Try elevating a box fan by placing it on a table or shelf, preferably next to an air vent while the AC is running. While a fan doesn’t make the room any cold, the circulated air makes it feel colder on your skin – maximizing the AC. See how much higher you can set the thermostat with a box fan in the room. You might be surprised at how much cooler the room will feel.

Air Purifier

A box fan can be used to filter air in particularly dusty rooms by attaching a furnace filter to the back. There are also variations on this set-up that allow for more airflow and put less strain on the motor. For dusty room remodels, this is a great way to inexpensively get rid of the debris in the air. Make sure that you replace the filter when it becomes too dirty as it will place more pressure on the fan motor, which could overheat.

Better Box Fan Air Purifier

Swamp Cooler

Swamp coolers use water run through pipes to cool homes in hot, dry climates. A makeshift swamp cooler can be created to cool a room by placing a block of ice (or a bowl of ice) in front of a box fan. You might also try reusable ice packs in bowls of water, rotating them back into the freezer when thawed. This works best when people are actually in the room to feel the cool air. While the ice does make the air cooler, it’s not enough to lower the room temperature to great effect.

While box fans are great supplemental tools for helping with IAQ and maximizing your central air, they are no replacement for professional maintenance services these issues will sometimes require. If you find yourself dealing with extreme indoor air quality or comfort challenges, make sure that you give Service Legends a call. Our professionals can help you with an array of HVAC and IAQ-related problems from minor A/C repair to complete airflow and zone systems. Call us today at 515-657-6634 and we’ll send someone out for an assessment.

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