Field Measurements of Efficiency and Duct Retrofit Effectiveness in Residential Forced Air Distribution Systems
Forced air distribution systems can have a significant impact on the energy consumed in residences. It is common practice in U.S. residential buildings to place such duct systems outside the conditioned space. This results in the loss of energy by leakage and conduction to the surroundings. In order to estimate the magnitudes of these losses, 24 houses in the Sacramento, California, area were tested before and after duct retrofitting. The systems in these houses included conventional air conditioning, gas furnaces, electric furnaces and heat pumps. The retrofits consisted of sealing and insulating the duct systems. The field testing consisted of the following measurements: leakage of the house envelopes and their ductwork, flow through individual registers, duct air temperatures, ambient temperatures, surface areas of ducts, and HVAC equipment energy consumption. These data were used to calculate distribution system delivery efficiency as well as the overall efficiency of the distribution system including all interactions with building load and HVAC equipment. Analysis of the test results indicate an average increase in delivery efficiency from 64% to 76% and a corresponding average decrease in HVAC energy use of 18%. This paper summarizes the pre- and post-retrofit efficiency measurements to evaluate the retrofit effectiveness, and includes cost estimates for the duct retrofits. The impacts of leak sealing and insulating will be examined separately.
Proceedings of the 1996 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings, Pacific Grove, CA
Year of Publication
Building Technology and Urban Systems Division, Residential Building Systems, Whole Building Systems Department