When we founded Home Energy Rx in 2011 we did so with the belief that we could reduce energy consumption and lower people’s monthly utility bills, which we do every day. The interesting thing, though, is that we rarely get feedback on the amount of money people save each month. Nearly all the feedback we get is about the increase in comfort they experienced within their home. Many times, we fix issues people hadn’t even noticed until we completed the work.
One of the biggest problems we find when doing an in-home energy assessment is that the duct system, or the network that carries air from your HVAC unit to each of the rooms, leaks a large portion of its capacity to the outside of the home. When we drive up to a house it is often a dead giveaway that the ducts leak into the crawlspace when we see the family pet sleeping next to a crawlspace vent where the cold air is blowing out from underneath the house. While this is a great way to keep Fido cool, it’s an expensive way to accomplish it!
Obviously, this is an energy loss – but it’s important to understand that any air leaking to the outside of your home must be brought back inside, which is referred to as “make up air.” This air is not conditioned, bypasses your filter and can often lead to high humidity in the house, uneven air distribution, and a dirty or musty smell, among a host of other issues. All of this can lead to unhealthy and uncomfortable home conditions like excessive dust, rooms being too hot or too cold compared to the rest of the house, mold issues, dust mites, rust on vents, allergies, and more.
This problem can create unnecessary wear and tear on your HVAC system by operating with “dirty” air and having to fight the outside air much harder than the conditioned air that it is designed to cool. It is common for us to test houses where the duct leakage is so extreme that they are actually heating or cooling the crawlspace before they are heating and cooling the house. Often times it is the air conditioner or the heater that gets the blame, when in reality it is the duct system, because most HVAC technicians do not have the equipment to test for leakage and a visual inspection will not detect the problem.
If you are having issues with dust, mold, buckling hard wood floors, wooden doors that won’t open or close, unusual allergies, strange smells, or rooms that are too hot or cold you could have a defective duct system. The only way to be sure is to have an in-home energy assessment completed, where an energy expert will utilize specialized equipment and perform a series of pressure tests to find the source of the problems. This way you can rest assured that your home’s level of comfort isn’t being compromised by faults in your existing duct system or learn what upgrades are necessary to achieve that goal.
To schedule a free in-home energy assessment, click here.
Chris Kell – RESNET Certified HERS Rater | BPI Building Analyst | Energy Star 3.1 Certified