How Ductwork Design Impacts Efficiency and Comfort
Owning a home is the American Dream. And nothing can make you feel better than coming home after a busy day, walking into pure comfort at the perfect temperature. No matter what the season, your furnace and air conditioner work perfectly together to provide exactly what you need. And they operate at peak performance, ensuring your utility bills stay as low as possible as well.
Is that possible?
Your HVAC system is one of the most used systems in your home. And if you have an older model furnace or air conditioner, it can be costing you money in different ways. Newer models provide better air flow. They also do it more efficiently, making your monthly utility bills lower in the process. Studies show you can boost your efficiency by as much as 50 percent just by replacing older models.
But increasing your efficiency doesn’t stop with your furnace and air conditioner. Your ductwork plays a big role too.
The Air Conditioning Contractors of America have issued guidelines outlining how to design and install ducts to maximize airflow and efficiencies. These guidelines establish many elements, including location, size, supply and return airflow, and more.
Unfortunately, not all ductwork has been installed with these guidelines in place. Many older homes were designed with poor efficiencies, often installing HVAC equipment as an afterthought. As remodeling occurred, retrofitting became an artform, with ductwork taking on all shapes and sizes to meet the demands of the changing home. And because ductwork was often installed by different skill levels, all the way from the DIY homeowner to the less than professional contractor, ductwork simply doesn’t match needs.
Yes, these practices occur. They are considered unacceptable in today’s building environment. But they exist throughout our communities. Maybe even in your home.
Ductwork must be made from approved and permanent materials.
Sheet metal is the most common material used, as it’s lightweight and simple to manipulate on the job site. They operate at lower static pressure, which reduces blower motor wear. Many are fabricated with insulation between the panels, making them energy efficient even in areas that may be left unconditioned.
Flexible ducts have also gained popularity in recent years. Flexibility gives the advantage of being able to maneuver through all kinds of turns and positions, reducing the amount of airflow restrictions in place. Flex ducts also offer more insulation, which allows them to be installed in unconditioned spaces and reduce heat/cold air loss.
To prevent heat gain/loss, the best place to locate ductwork is within the home’s insulation barrier. While it’s easier to do this with new construction, with a little work older homes can achieve this as well through raised floors and drop ceilings. Attics, crawl spaces and basements – areas that are often unconditioned – are subjected to extreme cold and heat. If ductwork exists in these areas, significant loss issues can occur. Meaning your HVAC system will have to work harder to produce the results you’re looking for. A lot of homes have return ducts that were never insulated and should be as the efficiency of the system can be significantly reduced.
Is your ductwork installed as efficiently as possible? Learn more about quality ductwork design from the experts here at RS Andrews, Atlanta’s leading HVAC and ductwork contractor.