Ducts in the Attic? What Were They Thinking? Preprint

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


As energy-efficiency efforts focus increasingly on existing homes, we scratch our heads about construction decisions made 30, 40, 50-years ago and ask: 'What were they thinking?' A logical follow-on question is: 'What will folks think in 2050 about the homes we're building today?' This question can lead to a lively discussion, but the current practice that we find most alarming is placing ductsin the attic. In this paper, we explore through literature and analysis the impact duct location has on cooling load, peak demand, and energy cost in hot climates. For a typical new home in these climates, we estimate that locating ducts in attics rather than inside conditioned space increases the cooling load 0.5 to 1 ton, increases cooling costs 15% and increases demand by 0.75 kW. Theaggregate demand to service duct loss in homes built in Houston, Las Vegas, and Phoenix during the period 2000 through 2009 is estimated to be 700 MW. We present options for building homes with ducts in conditioned space and demonstrate that these options compare favorably with other common approaches to achieving electricity peak demand and consumption savings in homes.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 2010
Event2010 ACEEE Summer Study - Pacific Grove, California
Duration: 15 Aug 201020 Aug 2010


Conference2010 ACEEE Summer Study
CityPacific Grove, California

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-550-48163


  • attics
  • conditioned space
  • duct location
  • ducts
  • ventilation


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