Watt, Why & How e-Newsletter

Air Ducts: A Hidden Source of Energy Loss

 

Source: www.energy.gov
Ductwork
Do you have high utility bills in the summer and winter, rooms that feel stuffy and uncomfortable or find yourself constantly having to dust? The problem could be your ductwork. Ducts distribute conditioned air throughout your home. Over time, they can develop gaps, holes or loose connections. Leaky ducts can reduce heating and cooling system efficiency by as much as 20 percent, wasting energy and costing you money. Unfortunately, ductwork is often hidden in walls and ceilings, making it difficult to access and repair.

 

This article discusses how you can uncover ductwork problems and steps you can take to increase ductwork efficiency; reducing your energy costs and making your home more comfortable. 

Signs of ductwork problems

Take some time to assess your home and your heating and cooling system. There are several indicators of poorly performing ducts:

  • An older heating and cooling system with ductwork that has not been inspected and maintained
  • Typically high summer and winter energy bills
  • Rooms that are difficult to maintain at a comfortable temperature
  • Certain rooms that always feel stuffy and uncomfortable
  • Ductwork that runs through crawlspaces or the attic

Improving ductwork performance

Ductwork is often hidden in walls and ceilings, so it can often be difficult to repair. There are some things that you can do, however, to make your ducts more energy efficient:

  • Seal air leaks in all ductwork that you can access—such as in attics or basements—with mastic tape. Do not use duct tape, which tends to crack and peel off.
  • Ensure that connections at vents and registers are well-sealed. These are good places to find disconnected duct joints.
  • Insulate ductwork in all unheated areas, such as attics and crawlspaces. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends insulation with an R-value of six or higher. 
Contact a heating and cooling professional if you suspect more serious ductwork problems. They can inspect your system and repair or replace damaged ductwork, or reroute your system if necessary. 

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