- Power and fuel prices can be volatile.
- The cost of doing business is increasing for energy providers.
- Residents, quite simply, have little control over either of those factors.
Duct TalesYour ducts work hard for you, and are easily one of the most vital components to any HVAC system. Furnaces and ACs condition air, then your ducts carry that heated or cooled air into your home for you and your family’s comfort. They’re as important to maintaining the temperature of your home as a hose is to watering your lawn. It’s much easier to get water through a hose when it’s not blocked or leaking, and the same is true for your ducts. The ducts in your HVAC system need to be properly sealed to work efficiently, otherwise your conditioned air will leak out before ever reaching its destination. Think about the hose again. A well-sealed hose means all the water from your spigot goes straight to your lawn, nothing wasted, while you use less water. The same is true of your AC, which uses electricity to cool air. If the cool air is flowing freely and easily through the ducts, with no leaks, the AC won’t need to use as much electricity to get your desired results.
Dirty Deeds Done by DuctsI like to listen to classic rock when I’m driving between HVAC jobs, and whenever that old AC/DC song Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap comes on, I start to hear instead “Dirty Deeds Done by Ducts.” I can’t count how many times I’ve serviced an HVAC system that has become inefficient because of its ducts. Ductwork inefficiencies fall into two categories:
- Airflow restrictions: Exactly what they sound like, airflow restrictions signal that something in the ducts is preventing air from moving freely, meaning the AC or furnace has to be on longer to change the temperature of your home, raising your utility bills.
- Thermal losses: These have more to do with temperature. When this is occurring, the air in the ducts has become so hot that cool air created by the AC is being warmed, or vice versa. As with the airflow restrictions, this means your HVAC system has to run longer to get the proper amount of cool air into rooms.
- Leaks: The average home loses between 20 and 30 percent of the conditioned air that moves through its ducts because of leaks, holes, or poor connections, according to Energy Star. If 30 percent of air is lost, that means your AC or furnace is running 30 percent longer to get the same results as if you had sealed ducts. Let’s say your gas bill for January has always been $100. With the 13.5 percent total increase since August, it rises to $113.50. Now, if your system has been losing 30 percent of warmed air through holes in the ducts, and you fix this, that means your bill could potentially drop to $79.45, provided you have a professional find every last leak. This is a pretty significant difference for most energy bill customers.
- Damage: In recent years, it has become common for builders to use flexible plastic air ducts to save on cost. Unfortunately, that material is susceptible to being kinked, crushed, torn, or twisted, which restricts flow and, yet again, makes it harder for HVAC systems to circulate air throughout a house.
- Loose grills: If vents and grills aren’t sealed well at the point where they connect with ducts, it creates another place to lose air before it can warm or cool your rooms—air you’ve already paid to cool or warm.
- Poor insulation: If your ducts aren’t properly insulated, particularly in unconditioned spaces like the interior of walls, attics, or basements, hot outdoor air in the summer can warm them, also warming air passing through them, making it so your AC has to keep burning power to create more cool air. The reverse is also true in the winter with hot air traveling through cold ducts.