LBNL Report Number
Energy losses from forced air distribution systems have a significant impact on the energy efficiency of buildings. Little work has been done to quantify these losses in apartment buildings. In this paper we will discuss field measurements made on four forced air heating systems to evaluate the duct system energy losses to unconditioned basements. The apartments were heated by natural gas furnaces located in the basements. The systems had bare sheet metal ductwork exposed to the basement conditions. The pre- retrofit measurements were made on the systems after sealing large easily visible leaks. The post-retrofit measurements were made after wrapping the ducts in foil backed glass fiber insulation and additional leak sealing. Only the sections of duct exposed to the basement were retrofitted because only these sections were accessible. This study examines the potential energy savings for this type of limited retrofit.
The energy losses were separated into leakage and conduction terms. Leakage measurements were made using register flowhood techniques. Conduction losses were estimated by measuring temperatures in the plenums and at the registers. Analysis of the measurements has shown typical reduction in leakage flow due to duct sealing of about 40%. The reduction in leakage translated into a reduction in energy consumption of about 10%.