Looking for a way to save a little cash on your utility bill? Take a look at your ductwork. Leaky ductwork can account for 10 to 30 percent of your total heating and cooling costs. For an average home, this can amount to hundreds of dollars in wasted energy each year.
Many comfort complaints are traced back to leaky ductwork. For example, if your duct leakage is only 20 per-cent of the total air flow, the efficiency of your cooling system can drop by half. Heating efficiency is similarly affected. Leakage lowers heating/cooling capacity and can actually reduce the life of your equipment.
Even if your ducts are insulated, insulation won’t stop air leaks. Dirt streaks in the insulation are a sign air is leaking from the ducts.
To check your duct system, start with a visual inspection. Most connections on the duct system are not sealed properly. Materials such as duct tape do not provide a permanent seal. Tape adhesives dry out over time. Instead, experts advise using duct sealing mastic, a thick paste, between all connections.
It is especially important to seal leaks in connections and seams in or from the air handling unit, plenums and their connec-tions to the rectangular ductwork. Now is the perfect time for do-it-yourselfers to work on this project, while attics are cool. If you don’t care to do the work yourself, a service call from a qualified cooling and heating specialist may save you hundreds of dollars each year.