Federal study says HVAC energy efficiency decreased by improper installation

According to a recent study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), if you're going to have new HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) equipment installed in your home, it's critical to have it done by a licensed professional. Without proper installation, the study found, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems do not actually save energy for the consumer, with improperly installed units using about 30% more energy than those installed according to quality standards. This means that the energy efficiency ratings for the improperly installed appliances are rendered inaccurate, leading to unexpectedly high energy use and cost for homeowners.

The study team tested the performance of a heat pump with several types of common installation problems in a climate-controlled lab, then replicated the experiment with simulations of how the pump would perform in an actual house. Of the many errors that can occur in installation, the one that was found to cause the greatest eventual energy loss was leaky ductwork, followed by refrigerant undercharge, indoor airflow problems, and mismatch of equipment size with ductwork size. When more than one error is present in the same system, their effects combine and cause even greater amounts of energy to be lost. 

This study was the first in the US to quantify the problems caused by improper installation of HVAC systems, but here at Alban Inspections, we've always known that in order to function properly, home equipment must be installed and maintained by trained professionals. If you suspect your home may be losing energy due to installation errors, contact Alban for a home energy audit to determine what the problem might be, and to discuss the energy efficiency savings programs we have available to help you save money while decreasing your home's energy consumption.