For Immediate Release


Contact: Melinda Millsap
1679 Clearlake Road
Cocoa, FL 32922-5703
Phone: (321) 638-1004
FAX: (321) 638-1010
Florida Solar Energy Center Study Exposes Leaks in Air Handlers and Ducts
If you're looking for a way to reduce your air conditioning bills, check your air 
distribution system for leaks.

	According to a recent study conducted by the Florida Solar Energy Center 
(FSEC), this is where most Central Florida homes waste energy - through leaky air 
handlers and ducts. The amount of leakage in an average 2,000 square foot home can 
cost the homeowner 10-20 percent more in annual heating and cooling costs compared 
to an airtight system. 

FSEC researchers discovered this while conducting one of the first significant 
studies measuring leakage of installed air handlers. The Florida Department of 
Community Affairs code division funded the study called "Field Testing to 
Characterize the Airtightness and Operating Pressures of Residential Air Handlers." 
FSEC researchers Chuck Withers and Jim Cummings - along with help from Janet 
McIlvaine, Jeff Sonne and Matt Lombardi - measured air handler and duct leakage in 
30 homes built last year in Central Florida.

	They found leakage in ductwork was higher than expected. Withers said he was 
disappointed that "after several years of educating and training many contractors 
about the severity of duct leakage, we are still finding significant amounts of duct 
leakage in new homes." Even if contractors do a good job sealing the ductwork, the 
air handler cabinet they purchase from the manufacturer can be leaky. 

	Wasting conditioned air isn't the only problem resulting from leaky systems. 
A leaky air handler in the garage can draw in car exhaust fumes or toxins from 
chemicals stored near it. According to the FSEC study, the average installed air 
handler cabinet allows six percent of the system's airflow to leak in from the 
garage or attic. The best location for the entire system, ducts and air handler, is 
in a conditioned space. 

"The good news is there are test methods and qualified people to evaluate the 
overall efficiency of the air distribution system," Withers explained. "Most 
homeowners, even those who recently moved into new homes, may be well advised to 
take advantage of any utility or independent duct-sealing programs." Although, the 
best time to ensure a home will have an airtight system is during the design phase.

Planning an airtight system before construction has other advantages besides 
potential energy savings. New homes in Florida can receive energy credits under the 
new energy code if a qualified energy rater's test verifies the air distribution 
system is substantially leak free. For more information, go to 

The Florida Solar Energy Center, a research institute of the University of Central 
Florida, is the largest and most active state-supported energy research center in 
the country. Current research activities include solar water and pool heating, solar 
electric systems, energy-efficient buildings, alternative transportation systems, 
hydrogen fuel and other energy areas. For more information, call the FSEC Public 
Information Office at (321) 638-1015 or go to