Like most of us right now, I have extra time on my hands and since it’s summer, I look for and prefer indoor DIY projects. Here’s one that’s cheap, you’ll need a screwdriver, a small ladder and a $5.00 roll of tape* (listed below). It does take a little time but projects like this can save you money and improve the comfort levels in your home for years to come. Being a bit of a perfectionist, I’ve realized these small improvements add up to considerable savings over the life of your home.
My home was built in 1984 and is approximately 2,600 square foot single story home. Like most 80s homes it was not built with efficiency in mind. While specializing in energy efficiency over the years I soon asked myself, what would the quickest and most cost effective way to reduce my energy consumption. Now before I answer that I will back up a bit here and explain that years of experience had taught me that the average home has incredible losses in its heating and cooling systems through leaks and improperly sealed system components. We routinely checked home ducting systems using a manometer and a blower unit to depressurize a home to illustrate the areas in the duct system responsible for leakage. Once this audit was done (2-hour evaluation) we could quantify the amount of TOTAL leakage the entire duct system may have. In my 80s home the equivalent of a 12” X 12” hole in my ducts was found. Imagine a full Square foot being wide open cooling your attic instead of your home. This was the case in my home and I couldn’t believe it but finding this out was amazing because knowing about a problem allows you to fix it.
So we don't want to crawl around in our attic, its dusty, hot and dangerous. So what is the next biggest areas we can make an impact? How about the gaps in your home right in front of your eyes...if you remove a screw 😎. Thats right, behind all of those air conditioners supply registers lies inefficiency.
So lets get started. One by one I started to remove all my air conditioning registers and electrical wall plate covers. I noticed that although they were in installed correctly, they all had up to a ¼” gap between the drywall and the metal outlet or duct-work. With register on, the air would hit the backside of the register and vent it right back through the gaps and into my attic. This was a no brainier, when I added up the circumference of all these registers, guess what? Around 1/3rd of a square foot in gaps was found over the total of all the registers. That was a big win as this is an easy fix for myself and other home owners and it accounted for nearly 33% of my total system losses.
What your Need:
-One roll of Aluminum foil tape, found at any home improvement store
Once you remove the register plates and the outlet covers place the tape inside the metal duct and up over the gap onto the drywall, (not to far up on the drywall) your register when replaced will cover the tape and look perfect.
If you have sealed the gaps on all ends then you have solved the problem and can expect energy savings as more conditioned air is now making into your livable areas and not back into your walls and attic. Less than an hour invested and you are in business.