Saturday, May 9, 2009

Duct and Cover

We just had our home's ducting system checked and sealed. Why? To improve the efficiency of our home's heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Sealing reduces the amount of heated or cooled air that is lost to the crawl space or attic areas; meaning that you can heat and cool your home faster and cheaper. That sounds good to me and there are incentives that pay the majority of the cost. If someone is willing to pay you to reduce your winter heating bill and your summer electric bill, you should seriously consider it. We had our system tested, cleaned and sealed for a net cost that is less than many people pay for just a cleaning.


So why are there incentives? 
You can watch this Energy Star Video or from the Oregon Department of Energy:
As much as 25 percent of the heat from a forced-air heating system may be lost through leaks in the ductwork. You can get a tax credit for sealing existing ductwork or installing a well-designed and sealed duct system in your existing home or new construction.
How did our home do? 
Our home was built in 1994. Things degrade over time. In one case, in the crawlspace, the tie-wrap that was connecting two flex ducts had slid and there was a gap large enough to stick your hand in. This meant that when the furnace or the air conditioner was running, some of this air was just being dumped under the house.  

The blower test showed that we were leaking 1430 cubic feet per minute (cfm). The contractor said that when they are done with most homes they can get the leakage below 300 cfm. We were not that fortunate. Our post sealing reading was 710 cfm of leakage. The leakage was cut in half, but it is still a leaky house. Why? When our home was built, the codes were not as strict as they are currently. Parts of our air return system are not even ducted; it is just studs and drywall. That is going to leak. So unless I am willing to tear out walls, we are stuck with leaky HVAC system. At least now it is only half as leaky. 

What are the incentives?
If you have PGE or Pacific Power for your electricity utility or NW Natural or Cascade Natural for your natural gas, then you may be eligible for incentives from the Energy Trust. If you are in Oregon but with another utility, check on this page for your utility's incentives.

The Energy Trust incentive is up to $500, based on the amount of leakage reduced.

The Oregon Energy Tax Credit is up to $250 based on the percentage of leakage reduced and the job cost. 

With these two incentives, you can have up to $750 of the cost covered. 

Do it yourself
If you are more of the DIY type, there is helpful info at this link. One thing worth noting is that Duct tape, ironically, is actually a very poor choice for sealing your ducts. When the ducts get hot the tape's adhesive can detach. But don't worry; duct tape still has thousands of uses.  
A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Sealing and Insulating with ENERGY STAR

Links:

1 comment:

Donald said...

Basically, HVAC systems are great providers of heat and cold temperature to suit your body's temperature due to the climate outside. This would provide you with much comfort and relaxing feeling when at home.