WHAT LIES BE­NEATH

Although duct­work and in­su­la­tion are hid­den from sight, they of­fer lots of en­ergy sav­ings if done right

MEP Middle East - - EDITOR'S NOTE - Ra­jiv Ravindran Pil­lai MEP Mid­dle East Edi­tor ra­jiv.pil­[email protected]

Air-con­di­tion­ing ducts are one of the most im­por­tant sys­tems in your home, and if the ducts are poorly sealed or in­su­lated they can esult in high en­ergy bills. Your home’s duct sys­tem is a net­work of tubes in the walls, floors, and ceil­ings. Ducts are made of sheet metal, fiber­glass, or other ma­te­ri­als.

In a typ­i­cal house with forced air heat­ing and cool­ing, 20% to 30% of the air that moves through the duct sys­tem is lost due to leaks, holes, and gaps in con­nec­tions. This waste leads to higher util­ity bills and dif­fi­culty keep­ing the house warm or cool, re­gard­less of the ther­mo­stat set­tings or ef­fi­ciency of the heater or air con­di­tioner. In new home con­struc­tion or in retrofits, proper duct sys­tem de­sign is crit­i­cal. In re­cent years, en­er­gysav­ing de­signs have sought to in­clude ducts and heat­ing sys­tems in the con­di­tioned space.

Ac­cord­ing to En­ergy.gov, ef­fi­cient and wellde­signed duct sys­tems dis­trib­ute air prop­erly through­out your home without leak­ing to keep all rooms at a com­fort­able tem­per­a­ture. The sys­tem should pro­vide balanced sup­ply and re­turn flow to main­tain a neu­tral pres­sure within the house. The main in­flu­ences on de­mand for in­su­la­tion ma­te­ri­als are var­i­ous in­ter­na­tional build­ing codes and reg­u­la­tions. While these reg­u­la­tions act as a cat­a­lyst for growth, they also im­pose lim­i­ta­tions by re­strict­ing the use of cer­tain ma­te­ri­als in spe­cific ap­pli­ca­tions. En­ergy costs are widely ac­cepted as the prime mo­ti­va­tor driv­ing growth in in­su­la­tion—both in com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial ap­pli­ca­tions—though other costs come into it as well, par­tic­u­larly in tightly man­aged projects or bud­gets. This is also true of pro­duc­tion costs, of which en­ergy often con­sti­tutes a large pro­por­tion, es­pe­cially in the glass and min­eral wool mar­ket, which uses con­sid­er­able amounts of en­ergy in fur­naces and ovens.

As my mar­ket re­port says in­side, a well-in­su­lated res­i­den­tial con­struc­tion is a cost-ef­fi­cient as well as en­ergy-ef­fi­cient choice since it brings down cost gen­er­ated by a heat­ing or cool­ing sys­tem. In­su­la­tion is re­lated to the in­ter­cep­tion of the pass­ing of ther­mal en­ergy be­tween two ob­jects from an area of higher heat as­sem­blage to one of a lower heat con­cen­tra­tion, thereby pre­serv­ing heat in a spe­cific lay­out. A build­ing that is well-in­su­lated saves util­ity bills and en­ables con­ser­va­tion of heat en­ergy.

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