Most modern homes, if not all, have some sort of forced air heating and cooling system in place. The act of heating and cooling your home uses more energy and drains more dollars on your energy bill than any other system in your home. It makes sense that consumers would want to make it as efficient as possible. No matter what kind of system you have in your home, you can save money by properly maintaining your system and upgrading when necessary. But what you do needs to be a whole-house approach, not by just concentrating on the heating and cooling system.

One of the most important parts of your heating and cooling system is the air ducts. The system that is hidden underneath your floors and ceilings could be wasting a lot of your energy dollars. This system is typically made of sheet metal, fiberglass or other materials. Many times, though, these systems are poorly insulated or not insulated properly. The ducts can leak at connection points and can add up to hundreds of dollars onto your energy bill annually.

Sealing your ducts at connection points and joints can prevent leakage into areas of your home that may not need heating or cooling, such as the attic or crawl spaces. In addition, these leaks can allow air from those same unused living spaces into the rest of your home this allowing hot air to come in during the summer and cold air coming in the winter.

Here are some duct tips from the U.S. Department of Energy:

¨ Although minor repairs to your ducts are easy to make, be sure to hire a professional to pinpoint the air loss and has the appropriate tools and materials to repair your ducts.

¨ Check your ducts for leaks in open areas. Look for sections that should be joined and look for any holes or gaps.

¨ If you use tape to seal your ducts avoid cloth-backed, rubber adhesive duct tape. Use products such as mastic, butyl tape, foil tape, or other heat-approved tapes that are suited for sealing ducts.

¨ If your ducts in the basement aren’t insulated and they are leaking air, once you seal them the basement will become colder leaving your pipes without and heat. You will want to consider insulating your pipes as a prevention measure against freezing in cold temperatures.

¨ If your basement has been converted into a living area, hire a professional to install both supply and return registers in the basement rooms.

¨ Be sure a well-sealed vapor barrier exists on the outside of the insulation on cooling ducts to prevent moisture buildup.

¨ When doing ductwork, be sure to get professional help. Changes and repairs to duct system should always be performed by a qualified professional.

¨ Ducts that don’t work properly can create serious, life-threatening carbon monoxide (CO) problems in the home. Install a CO monitor to alert you to harmful CO levels if you have a fuel burning furnace, stove or other appliance or an attached garage.