Are your energy bills exorbitantly high relative to the temperature your house feels? You may need to blame the messenger.
No, not the postal worker that delivers the electric or gas bill. We are referring to the ducts that deliver the hot or cold air to the rooms in your house.
When your home temperature is hotter or colder than you expect, it is a natural reflex to automatically assume that one of the major machines that controls the atmosphere that we live in (heater, air conditioner, humidifier, etc.) is to blame. However, a dirty little secret of the HVAC industry is that almost all residential ductwork systems that are installed will leak (anywhere between 20%-35%). This means that homeowners are paying for heating & cooling all year that is either being lost to the outside or never making it the intended zone of the house.
While this is an unfortunate fact, what is perhaps worse is that, until recently, contractors were able to get away with mediocre installment of ductwork. In Maryland, where majority of our client base resides, a week doesn’t pass in which we conduct an energy audit and inefficient ductwork isn’t at least part of the problem. Beyond the annoyance of being ashamed that some contractors don’t take pride in completing satisfactory work, it also paints the industry as a whole in a poor light, when in truth, most HVAC contractors are honest workers that enjoy a job done right.
The poor work will come to an end though. New mandates from the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) are requiring HVAC contractors to FINALLY make duct work tight or risk repercussions. In Maryland specifically, it is required that all counties follow the IECC 2009 code by July 1, 2012. This will help protect homeowners on ALL new construction, but that only fixes part of the problem. Unfortunately, there are still miles of ductwork throughout the state that are leaky and wasting SO MUCH ENERGY everyday! For those people, the most important part is diagnosing the problem first,which is where we would like to help.
In our next blog post, we will discuss how ductwork is improperly installed (and how you can tell).
energyMusings is written by Sean Schmidt, President of Holistic Home Energy Services, an Energy Auditing & Home Performance Contractor in Maryland. In addition to being a certified Building Analyst and Envelope Specialist, Sean has been in the HVACR field for 20 years. He is currently the President of Heating & Air Conditioning Contractors of Maryland, sits on the Board of the Maryland Alliance for Fair Competition (MAFC) and is an active member of Efficiency First.