Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Insulating Heat Ducts in the Basement
This is a story about making a little heat go a long way. In most houses, heat has to go a long way to get to this or that room. A wood stove simply radiates the heat outward, and lets the excited molecules spread the warmth up the staircase and around corners. But the typical forced air furnace has to push the air itself, through a labyrinthine set of pipes, facing the same circulatory issues of a giant octopus.
Much of the heat a furnace produces gets lost in transit, as the long metal ducts shed their warmth into the basement where it doesn't do much good. My basement is an all too good example of that, with bare ducts and leaky single pane windows.
So when my friend Dorothy was told that she needed a bigger furnace to get more heat to chronically cold rooms in her house, she fortunately asked around and got some good advice on a different approach.
Instead of spending lots of money on a bigger furnace, why not insulate the ducts so the heat from the little-furnace-that-could can make it all the way to the upstairs bedrooms? It goes against the bigger-is-better and replace-rather-than-repair mantras that so often dictate decisions, but it worked like a charm. Rooms that were chronically cool are now comfortably warm.
Imagining that duct insulation would have a MichelinMan bulkiness, I was impressed to see that the covering is very compact.
And the workmanship is impressive, with insulation neatly taped and tight under and around the brackets,
and the water heater carefully insulated as well.
Combined with the clotheslines stretched along the ceiling as a way to avoid using the energy-gulping clothes dryer, this is one very together, money saving, energy saving basement.