How Ductwork Design Can Improve Your Energy Use
While JC & JC HVAC Mechanical Contractors is well-known for heating and air conditioning repair and maintenance, we’re also premier ductwork design and installation experts. Most people don’t understand just how important HVAC duct design is to the efficiency of a building’s air flow, and we think it’s important for people to know the effects good — and bad — ductwork can have on their energy bill.
Why do we need ductwork at all? It allows the air from your furnace or air conditioner to reach every part of your home or business. Unfortunately, it’s not always the same temperature for each room, is it? Let’s take a look at the many aspects of HVAC duct design that can have an impact on the temperature throughout your building, and how JC & JC Mechanical Contractors can help.
The Importance of Ductwork Design
When it comes to new building construction or old building renovation, ductwork design cannot be an afterthought. To hire someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing for any part of HVAC installation will invite trouble and lead to decades of lost energy…and therefore money.
It’s Not Just About the Heating Source
When most people think of heating, they think about furnaces or some other heat source. You know, the actual unit that’s producing the air that’s been heated or cooled.
It’s true, the device that’s creating the heated or cooled air is a big part of how efficiently an HVAC system works. But after the air leaves the unit, it has no say over how well the air is delivered to its final destination. Properly-designed ductwork can be a big part of increasing the energy efficiency of the entire system.
Now that’s not saying that the HVAC system has nothing to do with it. In fact, matching the ductwork to the heating system is vitally important. That’s why it’s important to…
Match the HVAC To the Duct
It’s vitally important that the HVAC and the ductwork be a good match for each other. Of course, we’re not just talking about them being able to be physically connected. That’s easy. When designing ductwork and choosing the right HVAC system, there are many parts of the equation that must be taken into consideration. What’s the square footage of the house? What are the heights of each room? How far away is the furthest room requiring heat?
When it’s time to choose a furnace and AC unit, it can be tempting to go with something bigger than you need. But bigger without the right number of return air vents can actually make a system considerably less efficient. Bigger might not be what you really want; better efficiency can still give you the same temperature of conditioned air for less energy.
Of course, that’s when a new building is being built or an old one is completely remodeled. When only the HVAC unit is being replaced, it’s important to get proper guidance on new HVAC installation so that the new unit isn’t too big or too small. On the other hand, if everything is being put in at once, it’s time for proper ductwork design.
Design for Optimum Efficiency
When ductwork was first used, the point was to get heat from point A to point B. Stick a bunch of pipes together and move the air by any means possible. There wasn’t much thought put into how efficient the system was, because the mere fact that they could actually move warm air was a triumph in itself. Of course, this led to some rooms that were too hot while others remained freezing. That’s what caused people to start looking at the nuances of ductwork design. In time there became mathematical formulas that helped HVAC duct design work more efficiently; furnaces became less taxed and rooms stayed at a more constant temperature.
But there was one more important change that happened in the industry: computer-aided ductwork
design. While ductwork installation itself is a very physical process, the design of the ducts can be improved with the help of computer software that is specifically made to make air in the ducts move throughout the house as efficiently as possible.
There are many ways in which ductwork design can help increase the efficiency of your HVAC system, but there are two primary problems that ductwork design is trying to solve.
Turbulence: The most common place to hear about turbulence is on an airplane. Technically it means “chaotic changes in pressure and flow velocity.” But in general, it refers to air patterns that you wish weren’t there that lead to inefficiencies.
The problem with turbulence in air duct design is that it keeps the air in the ducts for too long. When a duct creates turbulence, the air gets trapped. It spins around and lingers, and as it does so it loses heat. This perpetually mixes with the rest of the heated air moving through the ductwork, delivering less-comfortable air to the building.
The Weight of Air: While it’s not something that most people think of very often, air has weight. And because it has weight, it takes force in order to move it. That means that the blower has to work to move air throughout the ducts, and inefficiently-designed ductwork can cause it to work too hard and put extra strain on your furnace.
How Can Ductwork Design Save Money?
Proper ductwork design can save money immediately and over the entire life of the building. Here’s how.
Materials: When you go with a ductwork contractor who uses computer-aided duct design, you’re using the exact amount of materials needed. Because the goal of proper design is to get the air to the destination efficiently, that often means taking a direct route. And a more direct route means using less material.
Energy: Whether your primary concern is using less energy is to help conserve the environment or to simply save money, we’ve got good news: you’re getting both! A more efficient system means that the conditioned air will be getting to you at the right temperature. That means the thermostat won’t cause the HVAC to turn on as much, which saves both electricity and your source of fuel.
Fix the Problems
Most people are aware that furnaces and air conditioners get less efficient over time. Even HVAC equipment that’s properly maintained is less efficient compared to the newer models that have come out in recent decades.
While there are no moving parts in the ducts, that doesn’t mean that their efficiency can’t deteriorate. One of the most common problems is that they exposed vents can get bumped, usually those that are near the furnace itself. Settling foundations can move both the furnace and the ductworks joints, causing them to leak air. If possible, these should be fixed in order to increase efficiency. Any building that is being renovated should investigate replacing their ductwork with more modern designs. (More on that below.)
Of course, there’s always the possibility that the ducts weren’t installed very well in the first place. That’s why we have to ask the following question…
How Can They Be So Inefficient?
Imagine taping a bunch of straws together and sticking them in your furnace; is that going to work well? Of course not, because it would be impossible to get the air through the house. Or imagine trying to get the air from the furnace to each room with a vent the size of a car tire. All of the heat would blanket the main floor and never reach the second floor.
Those are extreme examples, of course, but they’re to prove a point: go too far in either direction and you’re going to make the system work too hard with diminishing results. Anyone can purchase some ductwork at a home supply store and think they’ve done a good job. Unfortunately, airflow within the system is compromised when someone doesn’t have a clue what they’re doing.
Of course, things can go wrong during the ductwork installation as well. Even perfect ductwork design isn’t going to be efficient if the system is leaking at every duct joint, so it’s important to hire someone who really knows what they’re doing every step of the way.
Residential Ductwork Design
It’s important to remember that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work very well for homes. While there might be similarities between homes, any differences need to be taken into account to get the most efficient HVAC system possible.
Larger homes use a lot of energy for heating and cooling, and the ductwork design and HVAC decisions should go hand in hand. We will work with the general contractor, using the blueprints to find the most efficient routes for the ducts to take.
Smaller and mass-built homes can benefit from contacting a ductwork contractor as well. Unfortunately, even in a neighborhood with similar houses the ductwork design might be lacking. Home contractors will often go with the cheapest materials possible. Doing so saves them money but seldom gets a homeowner the best energy efficiency.
So no matter whether your home is a multi-million dollar custom or a regular new build, JC & JC HVAC Mechanical Contractors can make your system as efficient as it can possibly be. Spending a little extra now can save you so much more over the decades in your home.
Apartment Ductwork Design and Installation
Because apartments are multi-room units within one multi-unit building, there are many different options when it comes to heating and cooling the structure. It all comes down to the numbers; how much ductwork will be needed to supply a comfortable level of conditioned air to each apartment. Which HVAC unit is the right size for the square footage, and how many will be needed per building? If a tenant can’t stay comfortable in their own apartment, they’re more likely to try to find something else, so it’s important to keep them happy.
JC & JC HVAC is ready to help make every apartment building as energy efficient as possible, whether it’s new construction or it’s being renovated. We’ll find that perfect combination that saves energy — and money — for all involved.
Restaurant HVAC Ductwork Design
Restaurants can be difficult when it comes to HVAC design. The front doors are opening and closing dozens of times per hour. The customers are looking for that perfect temperature whether it’s 0-degrees or 100 degrees outside, and they just stepped through that front door wanting to be shielded from the extremes outside. Some tables are up against the windows, others are at the bar, while still others are right next to that door that keeps opening and closing. There’s also the heat of the kitchen to contend with. Fewother structures present such challenges.
That’s why it’s important to bring in a top-tier ductwork contractor who knows how to handle the intricacies of ductwork design and HVAC installation for restaurants. A restaurant that isn’t comfortable isn’t going to bet too many returning customers, so it’s vital to install the right heating and cooling system to match the ductwork.
Office HVAC Duct Design
What are the most common things that employees complain about the most when it comes to their work environment? If you said noise and temperature, you’d be right! And while we can’t do anything about noise, we can certainly help you make your employees more comfortable…and save you money at the same time.
New offices require more than just a calculation of the floor space when it comes to their duct design. Everything from the height of the ceiling to the placement of windows to the location of entrance doors must be considered. We’re ready to make sure you get the most out of your office with proper installation. While everyone in the office has their own internal thermostat — we can’t guarantee that Linda in HR won’t still keep a shawl over her chair at all times — you can be sure that there will be fewer complaints that at your old building.
Retail And Service Buildings HVAC
Whether your shop sells products or is offering a service, you want to keep your customers as happy as possible. At the same time, a business has to keep the costs of heating and cooling under control. It’s a tricky balance, one that is best thought through before the walls of the building go up.
We can help you keep the temperature at a comfortable level for everyone who comes in the shop, all while helping keep your energy bill down. Let us take a look at the blueprints and we can suggest the best course of action to take for your space.
While most people think of warehouses as big, unheated behemoths, that’s often not the case. Most warehouses are heated for a number of reasons: to keep pipes from freezing, to keep products from becoming damaged, and to keep workers more comfortable.
Of course, that’s not easy to do. High ceilings present challenges, as do oversized delivery and loading doors. Add to that that most warehouses are under-insulated and you see why it can be difficult to get the right ductwork in place. We can handle warehouse ductwork design and installation so that the least amount of energy is used to do the most amount of good.
Renovating a space can be an exciting time. Whether it’s a home or a commercial space, renovation is a great way to bring a building into the modern age while still paying homage to the past. It’s a great time to upgrade the electrical systems, communication and internet, and do away with the dangers of the past such as asbestos and lead.
Of course, it’s also an excellent time to bring the heating and cooling system up to maximum efficiency. Furnaces installed just 20 years ago are much less efficient than those built in the past couple of years. Why? Government mandates and customer demand both worked together to save energy and money in modern HVAC equipment.
So if furnaces that are the same age as the TV show Friends aren’t very efficient, you can probably guess how inefficient those from the I Love Lucy era are. We can help you match the kind of furnace you need to any pieces of the system that are to remain.
Of course, the furnace or boiler might not be the only problem; it could be the ductwork. As we detailed above (see: “Design for Optimum Efficiency”), ductwork designed in the pre-computer era is much less efficient than what you’ll get today. Older ductwork can create turbulence within the ducts themselves, trapping air until it loses the heat it was imbued with from the furnace. If your building is being renovated “down to the studs,” investigating new ductwork design is an excellent choice.
Let’s Get It Started!
As you can see, ductwork design is a complex part of both new construction and renovation. No matter what your situation, JC & JC HVAC Mechanical Contractors is ready to help you get the most energy efficient ductwork design possible. Contact us today to get started!