November 16, 1999
DOE/PATH Field Evaluation: Duct Sealing Technology Tested for Weatherization, Home Energy Efficiency
Energy Secretary Bill Richardson announced that the Department of Energy, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH) will collaborate on a $200,000 field test which could lead to a dramatic reduction in home heating and cooling bills.
"As much as 30 percent of a home's heating and cooling energy is lost through leaky ductwork, costing consumers nationwide about $5 billion a year," said Secretary Richardson. "This project is a prime example of how the federal government can help American consumers save money and energy."
"Cutting home energy costs makes homeownership affordable for more struggling families," Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo said. "The money we invest in new field tests of energy saving technology will pay dividends far into the future by transforming the dream of homeownership into a reality for families around the country."
Under this project local weatherization agencies in different regions of the country will test several duct sealing technologies in about 100 low-income homes this winter. They will monitor heating energy use and measure the amount of savings from the different technologies before and after the ducts are sealed. DOE expects the savings to be substantial.
One of the technologies to be used is aerosol spray duct sealing, developed by the Energy Department's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Aerosol spray sealants are capable of sealing cracks of 1/4 inch or more in diameter without the need to open a wall or floor to access the leaks. The sealant is a fine mist of vinyl plastic monomer injected into the duct system by a computer-controlled machine, which forces sealant-laden air out of cracks and leaks. As the air leaves the ducts, sticky particles are deposited where leaks occur and seal the leaks.
The project is designed to speed the introduction of advanced duct sealing technologies in low-income homes nationwide. HUD is providing $200,000. for this project under the PATH program. The Department of Energy will help make the advanced duct sealing technology available to consumers through its Weatherization Assistance Program. PATH, a partnership among members of the home building industry and all federal agencies dealing with housing issues, is speeding the creation and wide-spread use of advanced technologies to radically improve the quality, durability, safety, energy efficiency, and affordability of our nation's homes. By 2010, PATH intends to cut energy use by 30 percent in 15 million existing homes and by 50 percent in new housing.
The Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory will oversee the project and report on the results. Six local weatherization agencies were selected to participate in the test based on their knowledge and competence with duct sealing procedures, the availability of suitable homes in their area, and their ability to make repairs this winter. They are:
Community Action of South Eastern West Virginia, Bluefield, W.Va.
Virginia Mountain Housing Inc., Christiansburg, Va.
Iowa East Central T.R.A.I.N. (Teaching, Rehabilitating, Aiding Iowa's Needy) Davenport, Iowa
Wyoming Energy Council, Inc., Laramie, Wyo.
Multnomah County Community Action Office, Portland, Ore.
The Opportunity Council, Bellingham, Wash.
The Center for Energy and Environment in Minneapolis, Minn., will provide the monitoring equipment and analyze data collected before and after the ducts are sealed. Aeroseal Inc. of Oakland, CA, will provide the equipment that applies advanced aerosol sealant to the ducts and will train weatherization teams in its use.
DOE's Weatherization Assistance Program reduces energy costs for low-income Americans, especially households with elderly residents, people with disabilities, and families with children. Weatherization can reduce the amount of energy used to heat a typical low-income home by up to 33 percent, saving about $190 each year on a resident's heating bill. According to a study completed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 1997, for every dollar spent, the Weatherization Assistance Program returns $1.80 in energy savings and an additional $0.60 in employment and environmental benefits. Since the program's inception, more than five million homes have been weatherized with federal and leveraged funds, such as state and utility monies and fuel assistance program funds. More information on PATH is available on the Web at http://www.pathnet.org.
The Department of Energy researches, develops, and deploys clean, efficient and renewable energy technologies to help meet America's energy needs while protecting the environment and strengthening the economy. Energy technologies supported and promoted by the Department will play a key role in providing Clean Energy for the 21st Century.
Content updated on 7/10/2003