How to Minimize Energy Loss in Ductwork

Tips for improving the integrity and efficiency of your ductwork.

DuctAccording to experts, the typical air duct system loses between 25 and 40 percent of the energy put out by your heating or cooling system. Here are some tips that should help minimize this energy loss and lower your utility bills.

Check and Seal Leaks

First and foremost, it is essential to have your ducts tightly sealed and completely intact if you want them to route all heated and cooled air into the spaces you care about, rather than into an attic, basement, or drop ceiling. A good first step is to inspect the ducts visually for any sections that may have become detached or for any obvious holes. You can seal holes and joints using a mastic, butyl tape, or foil tape.

If you don’t want to do the inspection yourself, or fear there may be holes too small for you to find, you can contact a professional HVAC contractor such as General Heating & Air Conditioning to perform a home performance test to check for duct leaks.

Insulate the Ducts

If your ducts pass through an unheated or uncooled portion of the building, ambient temperatures are going to affect the air inside the ducts. You can minimize this problem by either insulating the entire space the ducts pass through or by insulating the duct itself. When dealing with attic ductwork, it is often helpful to install radiant barrier foil to prevent the attic turning into a hotbox during the day.

Consider Rerouting Ducts

The air passing through your ducts will be affected by drag to some extent, and this can contribute to energy loss. You can reduce this type of loss in several ways:

  • Smooth interior duct surfaces to reduce friction
  • Reduce the length of duct segments
  • Reduce the velocity of air flowing through the ducts
  • Increase duct diameter
  • Reduce number of bends in ductwork
  • Reduce sharpness of bends
  • Choose an air filter that is deeply corrugated for less airflow resistance

Ducts Are Just Part of the Equation

Of course, hooking up a brand new, perfectly sealed, brilliantly engineered duct system to an old, inefficient heater or air conditioner probably won’t give you the results you want. If you want to spend less on your utility bills each month, you need to ensure every part of your HVAC system is optimized for efficiency. If you’re interested in upgrading to a new ENERGY STAR furnace or air conditioner, feel free to contact General Heating & Air Conditioning for help.