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Energy tip #9: get your ducts in a row

ducttape.gifDuct tape. Everyone’s favorite utilitarian product has been used for many, many things: hanging posters on walls, taping packages, wrapping up a wiffleball to get extra distance on your home-run swing. It’s one of the most useful products on the market, except when it serves it’s namesake purpose of wrapping the ducts in your home to prevent leakage.*

Air ducts are tubes, pipes, or channels through which hot and cold air flow when summoned by your thermostat. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), “in homes heated with warm-air heating, it is not uncommon for ducts to leak as much as 15-20% of the air passing through them.”

It’s therefore important to make sure the leaks are covered and the ducts are as efficient as possible. This can cost a good bit of moolah. A couple hundred dollars worth. But it’s worth it. The ACEEE claims that a thorough duct sealing can cut heating and cooling costs in many homes by as much as 20%.

A 20% reduction sounds like big savings for both CO2 and money. Let’s check out the numbers:

For a home in the Midwest, the average yearly energy bill is about $1900. Typically, heating and cooling represents represents 40-50% of the total bill, or about $750-950.

Heating and cooling bill: $750-950
Cost of duct sealing: $350
20% savings: $152-190
CO2 savings: 3600-4000 pounds

You may balk at having to drop a fair penny on the home fix-up project, but it certainly has a major environmental benefit, and pays for itself in about 2 years.

Last week 62 people pledged to look into a low flow showerhead (Tip #8). If we can find one that truly keeps reasonable water pressure, then 62 people will be helping to save roughly 24,000 lbs of CO2.

* [ed — We knew we were going to catch flack for this, and yet we plowed heedlessly forward anyway, unwillling to let anything stand in the way of a cute intro. Anyhow, for the record: we know that duct tape isn’t useful for taping ducts. Please use it only for its intended purposes: securing your child in amusement park rides and unwanted body hair removal. Thank you.]

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