LESLIE: Marie in Vermont, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
MARIE: I called you because I really enjoy your show and I think perhaps you might be able to advise me on my problem here.
TOM: Alright, what can we do?
MARIE: We have lived here since 1955, which equals about 53 years. I’m a senior citizen.
TOM: OK, is the house – the house was built in 1955, then?
MARIE: A little at a time.
MARIE: We started off with a trailer and then we had a lean-to and then we took and we …
TOM: Worked your way up to a single family, did you?
TOM: (chuckling) OK.
MARIE: We had four children.
MARIE: Well now the problem is and has been all these years, we have a split-level house here. Now, we have a furnace down cellar and the duct work goes under the crawl space. And through the years, we’ve been told, “Well, that duct work is old and it has lost a lot of heat and that is why you spend so much money on fuel, because the furnace runs a lot.” Now, the fuel, it cost almost $3,000 for the oil last year.
TOM: In 1955 we didn’t care so much about what it costs to heat our homes and although you’ve made improvements since then, I doubt that your home is as weather-tight as it probably should be, starting in the attic. I would not be looking at the furnace and the duct work first. I’d be looking at the level of insulation in the house, starting in the attic space because that’s where most of your heat loss is. Now, the ducts don’t wear out; so the ducts are the same as they’ve been since the day they put in. And while they may not be the most efficient, typically, in split levels, we don’t get so many questions about losing heat; more we get questions about people that have trouble air conditioning split levels because they’re darned hard to move the ducts through because of the configuration of the building.
But if you’re trying to save money and cut down your heating costs, I would start with the basics. I would look at the insulation in the attic; I’d look at the windows, the doors, the weatherstripping, the outlets, the lights, the switches on the outside walls and save (ph) drafts. What I would do is I would contact your utility company or your oil company and find out if you can hire an energy auditor to walk through that home and figure out where you’re losing all this heat. I suspect it’s going to be in the basics and probably replacing your ducts is the last thing that you’re going to want to do. Those ducts are probably just fine, Marie.