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PATH Case Study

Ducts in Conditioned Space:

Insulating the Attic Roofline for Comfort & Energy Savings

Printable Version [.pdf, 1.03 MB]

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Robert Black, CAPS, CGR
Access of Sarasota, Inc.
Sarasota, Florida

Builder Type:

Remodeler/Small Custom Builder

The Technology:

Ducts in Conditioned Space

The Project:

A 2,000-square-foot, one-level concrete-block home completed in February 2006 in Sarasota.

Client Mike Feil, a high-end trim carpenter and Black's former employee, plans to live in his new home for the rest of his life. Concerned about rising energy prices, Feil knew he wanted his ductwork installed in a conditioned attic. This isn't difficult, but spraying Icynene in the unvented attic's roofline to create conditioned space does change how the duct work is hung and necessitates bringing make-up air into the home.

"You can't control taxes, but you can control a building's energy use, so I put ducts in conditioned space. This makes for happy clients because they know their energy costs are going to be much lower over the lifespan of the building."

-- Robert Black


This 2,000-square-foot home is about 30 percent more energy efficient than code. "Clients view getting a highly energy-efficient home as one of the benefits of choosing our business," says Black. "We sell energy efficiency to people who plan on living in their homes for the rest of their lives, so energy costs are an important consideration for their overall lifetime costs. Putting the ducts in conditioned space and insulating the attic roofline helps us cut our customers' energy costs."

"Instead of putting the insulation in the attic floor, we put it up against the roof. It gives you a much more energy-efficient shell. By using foam insulation, it completely seals everything, and it gives you more room to run ductwork on the attic floor. Spraying insulation is also really easy. You can find Icynene contractors everywhere."

Leaky ductwork and equipment can draw in unhealthy air when located in crawlspaces or unconditioned attics. Locating the ducts in conditioned space eliminates this problem and can reduce heating and cooling costs by 20 to 35 percent. Insulating and sealing the attic roofline is a straightforward way of placing the system in conditioned space.


"By insulating the attic and knee walls, we were able to downsize the mechanical unit by half a ton," Black says. "We were right on the edge between 2 ½ and 3 tons, but because there were so many windows, we opted for 3. We also saved about $120 on the cost of duct board by using 1" instead of 1 ½" because the ducts were in conditioned space. We put these savings toward the cost of the Icynene insulation, which is more expensive."

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Robert Black

Robert Black founded Access of Sarasota in 1994. He averages about 30 remodeling and building projects and $0.5 million in sales annually, primarily in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. After more than 40 years in the construction industry, Black now specializes in aging-in-place retrofits. Many of his older clients are especially concerned about rising energy costs.

Why Black installs ducts in conditioned space:

"When you put ducts in conditioned space, the home becomes much more healthy and energy efficient right off the bat."

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Content updated on 9/5/2006

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