How do you make your home more energy efficient? As energy costs continue to rise, homeowners are asking that question more often. The only problem is that they’re getting all the same answers. Experts tell them to add insulation, replace old windows, or have their furnace or hot water system serviced. But they seldom mention leaky ductwork as a possible energy thief. Why is this?
More often than not, they don’t mention it because the average homeowner knows next to nothing about ductwork. By comparison, the homeowner might know a bit about insulation or rickety windows, so he or she may be more receptive to those suggestions. Homeowners would, however, be wise to be a little more open-minded. Why? Experts in the industry estimate that more than two-thirds of home ductwork systems are leaky enough to justify repairing or sealing them.
These substandard ducts significantly increase heating and AC bills by reducing system performance and capacity. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, ducts with major leaks and flaws can lose an estimated 30 percent of the conditioned air that passes through them. The all-too-common problem is also responsible for many of the comfort issues homeowners complain about, such as drafty or cold rooms, hot or humid areas, and poorly ventilated spaces.
The purpose of ductwork is to provide a precise and efficient delivery system for conditioned air. Unfortunately, the high rate of energy loss proves that many systems do not adequately perform their intended function. The two most common culprits when it comes to energy loss in new ducts are improper installation and poor design. Homeowners who have these inefficient systems put in often notice right away that their energy bills are higher than they should be, often because they are charged more than their neighbors.
For most homeowners, however, wear and tear is the most common reason ducts become less efficient over time. This often occurs because constant pressure from conditioned air causes the ductwork to develop small leaks. These problems are observed during periods of heavy usage when heating and AC systems are running nearly around the clock.
Before you can address the issue, you must have it diagnosed by an HVAC professional. Although testing can be completed at any time, we strongly suggest you have it done before periods of high usage. Why? Because if ductwork repair is required, you don’t want your heating or AC system to be out of commission when you need it most.
The actual testing of your ducts may include air pressure tests, viewing and recording equipment, and examination of your HVAC equipment. If irregularities are found, and they often are, the technician may recommend duct sealing, repairs, or even re-installation to fix the problems. Because these issues are quite common, sealing is the solution ductwork repair professionals recommend.
When completed before periods of heavy usage, these often affordable repairs can save you hundreds of dollars on your heating and AC bills.