Other Places in Your Home for Added Insulation Other Places in Your Home for Added Insulation
Don't overlook another area in your home where energy can be saved - the ductwork of the heating and air conditioning system.
If water lines and the ducts of your heating or air conditioning system run through unheated or uncooled spaces in your home, such as attic or crawl spaces, then the water lines and the ducts should be insulated. First check the ductwork for air leaks. Repair leaking joints first with mechanical fasteners, then seal any remaining leaks with water-soluble mastic and embedded fiber glass mesh. Never use gray cloth duct tape because it degrades, cracks, and loses its bond with age. If a joint has to be accessible for future maintenance, use pressure- or heat-sensitive aluminum foil tape. Then wrap the ducts with duct wrap insulation of R-6 with a vapor retarder facing on the outer side. (If you live in the deep South or southern California, you can use R-4 insulation.) All joints where sections of insulation meet should have overlapped facings and be tightly sealed with fiber glass tape; but avoid compressing the insulation, thus reducing its thickness and R-value. In many parts of the country, this type of insulation will pay for itself in energy saved.
Return air ducts are more likely to be located inside the heated portion of the house where they don't need to be insulated, but they should still be sealed off from air passageways that connect to unheated areas. Drywall-to-ductwork connections should be inspected because they are often poor (or nonexistent) and lead to unwanted air flows through wall cavities.