When your home was built or when your central air conditioning or heating system was installed, the ducts were placed within the walls, attics and crawl spaces of your home. Their location may have been determined by a number of factors. Primarily for aesthetic purposes but also to make use of space that was otherwise unused. Often these are the worst locations for the duct work from an efficiency standpoint. Think, about it, the most common place for the central AC system is in an unconditioned, vented attic. On a hot day in the summer your attic might be 140-deg F. Convenient for the builder and architect, a dumb place for an efficient system.
Improving the Efficiency of your System and Ductwork
There is a lot we can do to improve the efficiency of the system. When ducts are initially installed there may be small gaps where the sections are joined. While the gaps may seem a minor issue at first sight, the issues they cause are serious, and include:
- Gaps in the supply ducts, which take the conditioned air from the handler to the various rooms in the house, allows the conditioned air to leak out resulting in less than optimal results.
- Gaps in the return ducts, which flow back from the various rooms in the house to the air handler, allows unconditioned air to mix with the air we are breathing. This could mean the possible introduction of dust, allergens and even mold into the living spaces of the house.
- As attic temperatures can sometimes reach 140 degrees in the summer, uninsulated ducts have to work harder to deliver cold air throughout the house.
- Conversely, gaps in the heating ducts in attics and crawl spaces means that some of the heat you are paying for is heating spaces it should not.
Ductwork gaps we have encountered. All cause Central AC units to work harder and less efficiently.
PSEG's Home Performance Direct Program
For homeowners with central air conditioning, PSEG's HPD program (of which Green Audit USA participates in), offers you a free inspection of your central AC duct work. Green Audit USA will inspect the ductwork in your attic, sealing gaps that we find to ensure that whatever the season, your home's systems are working at peak efficiency and you can maximize the money spent on energy.
Beyond the energy audit, we can also upgrade the duct insulation so that the cold air stays colder and the warm air stays warmer, making your home more comfortable, healthier and more energy efficient.
The ultimate and most efficient solution when possible is often to bring the duct work into the conditioned space of the house. Typically, that does not mean moving the duct work, it means making a vented area like a vented attic or crawl space an unvented area. Look for our blog posts on hot roofs and warm crawl spaces.
To learn more about how Green Audit USA can help you improve the overall performance of your heating or central air conditioning systems and to schedule your free home energy audit, contact us now.
LIPA says that between June 2011 to May 2012, we used just under 4000 KWH less than we did for the similar period the prior year. In real dollars, that comes out to about $1000 less. I have the documentation to prove it!