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ENERGY EFFICIENCY AROUND THE HOUSE


with Craig Hendrickson Residential Energy Auditor


Do you have your DUCTS in a row T


his following statement might be hard to believe but an energy effi ciency expert I studied under declared, “One


out of four homes in Oklahoma has disconnected ductwork.” What does that mean to homeowners? Wasted energy dollars.


Loose or undone ducts have several causes: the cable guy (who o en gets blamed for most every bad thing that goes wrong in the a c) could have knocked it loose during the cable installa on; it could have come loose when more in- sula on was blown in; or it could have been installed incor- rectly in the fi rst place. Ductwork quality can also suff er from inadequate insula on, no insula on, poorly sealed joints, and tears. All of these problems cost you energy dollars.


When roughly half of the energy used in the average home goes toward hea ng and cooling, the  me to inspect and repair gaps in ductwork off ers a substan al payoff . If you are unable to do so, have a professional check for inadequate ducts in your a c or crawlspace. For the do-it-yourselfers, use the following  ps to visually check for disconnected or inadequate duct work.


• Air in the a c or crawlspace is unusually warm in the winter or cool in the summer. This is a sure sign a prob- lem with the ductwork exists.


• Joints of the ductwork are covered with duct tape. This could be a sign of past problems or of improper instal- la on. Duct tape breaks down easily, allowing leaks to form at the joints and seams; it should only be used as a temporary solu on. Metal ductwork should be sealed with mas c and fi berboard ductwork should be sealed with metallic tape.


• Holes or tears in fl exible ducts. Flex ducts are, by far, the most popular since they are easiest to install. How- ever, fl ex ducts are more fragile and can develop holes and tears over  me. Flex ducts shouldn’t be pinched or sharply bent along their path. The best fl ex ducts are cov- ered with 2 inches of insula on and have a shiny silver


jacket. Black or white jackets will deteriorate at a faster pace and should be checked regularly for breakdown.


• Make sure the ducts are insulated. A cs and crawlspaces get very cold in the winter and up to 160 degrees in the summer. The insula on value of ducts lying on the fl oor of an a c can be improved by mounding with addi onal insula on.


• Inspect your air fi lters. Dirty fi lters make it more diffi cult for your climate control unit to draw adequate air so it pulls air through weak points in the duct work making small holes larger or crea ng new ones. When these holes become larger, more of your money goes toward hea ng and cooling. Consider using the less expensive air fi lters that allow the easy fl ow of air and remember to change the fi lter every 30 days. ●


A homeowner checks for leaks by tes ng for changes in temperature along the lengths of the ductwork with an infrared thermometer. She pays even closer a en on where ducts are jointed together and where ducts connect to a plenum or boot. (Photo courtesy of Greg Brooks, Walton EMC)


November 2014 - 9


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