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Eco-friendly home guide

By: Catie Leary on Aug. 27, 2010, 11:37 a.m.
Air ducts

Photo: ZUMA Press

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Air ducts

One of the most important systems in your home, though it’s hidden beneath your feet and over your head, may be wasting a lot of your energy dollars. Your home’s duct system, a branching network of tubes in the walls, floors, and ceilings, carries the air from your home’s furnace and central air conditioner to each room.

Unfortunately, many duct systems are poorly insulated or not insulated properly. Ducts that leak heated air into unheated spaces can add hundreds of dollars a year to your heating and cooling bills.

For basic maintenance, be sure to regularly check your ducts for air leaks. Look for sections that should be joined but have separated and then look for obvious holes. If you use tape to seal your ducts, avoid cloth-backed, rubber adhesive duct tape, which tends to fail quickly. Researchers recommend other products to seal ducts: mastic, butyl tape, foil tape, or other heat-approved tapes.