The Effect of Ductwork

I am an unabashed fan of the Three Stooges. The plots of their short films often have them working at jobs where they invariably mess things up resulting in their “brand” of comedic chaos. Aside from slapstick humor, the films offer a glimpse into what life was like in the 1940s. One short film titled “An Ache in Every Stake” features “The Boys” delivering blocks of ice as was common in that era. In one scene, “Curly” totes a large block of ice up a long staircase only to find it has melted to the size of a small ice cube as he reaches the top. The amusing image of that ice shrinking reminds me of how inefficient the typical HVAC ductwork is in the average home. Any AC’s efficiency is measured using the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), a ratio of the cooling output to the energy consumed. Unfortunately, that cool output is further reduced as the air travels through the ductwork and into your living room or bedroom. According to some estimates, as much as 40% of the cool air produced is lost. The same percentage applies to warm air lost in that same ductwork when the furnace is running at full blast. There is no way to eliminate heating or cooling losses in your ductwork but there are ways to minimize it. Good insulation is an obvious necessity to keep the conditioned air that you pay for inside the ductwork. Another step to take if you notice your energy bills rising is to have an HVAC professional check for any leaks and gaps in the ductwork. Keeping the ductwork clean and free of debris and dirt will also help get more usable warm or cool air to its destination.


a/c serviceman