Don’t Forget Your Ducts When It Comes to Whole Home HVAC Units
Posted on: May 17, 2018 | by: Will Housh
When it comes to heating and cooling energy efficiency, many homeowners think the efficiency they’ll receive depends on the rating of the whole home HVAC unit or whole home air conditioner. While purchasing a unit with a higher SEER, AFUE, or HSPF certainly do play a role in how high or low your energy bills will run, many fail to look beyond the unit itself.
Your home’s ductwork plays a critical role in home comfort, delivering conditioned air from the whole home HVAC unit or whole home air conditioner to your indoor living areas. When your ductwork isn’t in good shape, you will not benefit from the given energy efficiency level of your heating or cooling equipment. Solid ductwork helps maintain energy efficiency as well as comfort – if your energy bills are higher than expected, the problem may not be with your whole home HVAC unit, but with your ducts.
Ductwork Deficiencies Cause Whole Home HVAC Unit Inefficiency
According to ENERGY STAR, an inefficient ductwork system can cause energy losses of 20 to 30 percent in the average home. Ductwork can reduce whole home air conditioner efficiency due to:
- Poor ductwork design: Poor duct design prohibits conditioned air from being distributed effectively throughout your home. This forces your whole home HVAC unit to overwork, running longer cycles to compensate. The unit in turn experiences more wear and tear, which causes it to consume more energy to run, lowering efficiency. Improper ductwork sizing and configuration restricts airflow through the system, wasting energy and limiting indoor comfort.
- Duct leaks: Duct leaks allow conditioned air to escape into unconditioned spaces, so your living areas do not receive all the air intended. Air escapes through leaking and broken connections. Duct leaks also contribute to poor indoor air quality, as leaks allow contaminants to enter the system and circulate into your home.
- Uninsulated ducts: Ductwork is typically installed within walls, under or between floors, and in ceilings. The temperatures in these unconditioned areas can affect the temperature of the ducts (which are typically made from sheet metal), in turn affecting the temperature of the conditioned air passing through the ducts (thermal loss) causing energy loss.
Improving Ducts with Whole Home HVAC Unit Installation
Installing a new, high efficiency whole home HVAC unit or whole home air conditioner will not offer the energy efficiency levels you expect if your ductwork is faulty. Homeowners who have installed high efficiency whole home HVAC units but fail to lower utility bills often find that their ductwork is the source of the high costs.
When installing a new whole home HVAC unit, it is important that your HVAC contractor evaluate your home’s existing ductwork to identify and correct deficiencies. Ductwork repair or renovation may be needed to allow your new whole home air conditioner to perform at the energy efficiency level you expect. Your contractor may recommend ductwork services such as:
- Duct sealing: The contractor will examine your duct system by visually inspecting the ducts and performing a duct leakage test to uncover leaks. Duct leaks are sealed using mastic or appropriate sealants to eliminate air loss.
- Duct insulation: Your existing ducts as well as the uninsulated areas through which they run may be insulated to help the ducts maintain temperatures within the air flowing through. Ductwork insulation works to prevent thermal loss which wastes energy consumed by the whole home HVAC unit.
- Duct renovation: Your existing ductwork may not be designed appropriately to accommodate the new system. Poor design may also prevent your home from being adequately heated or cooled. Renovating your existing duct system may include increasing the size of ducts, installing additional duct runs to supply the home properly, and other measures.
Find a Whole Home HVAC Unit Installer on HVAC.com
HVAC.com’s Contractor Directory is the place to look for help with your ductwork, whole home air conditioner, or whole home HVAC unit. Search by your ZIP code to find heating and cooling professionals serving your area who can assist you in improving the efficiency of your whole home HVAC unit and lower your energy bills.