What Impact Do Your Duct Types Have on Your Energy Bills?

The type of duct installed in your home plays an important role in the performance and efficiency of your HVAC system. While certain types of duct materials and configurations are more efficient and durable than others, specific installation requirements, as well as cost, also figure into decisions about ductwork replacement. Here’s a quick rundown of common types of duct in residential applications and the potential pros and cons of each.

Sheet Metal.

The most common types of duct, sheet metal is rigid and may be round or rectangular. Round sheet metal duct is most efficient, providing maximum airflow per size. Rectangular ducts can usually be installed more easily in tight fits inside the structure. The smooth, nonporous surface of sheet metal also inhibits the growth of mold or other fungus inside the ducts.

Fiberglass-lined sheet metal.

Fiberglass lining inside sheet metal reduces heat loss and inhibits condensation when the airflow is very cold. The lining also dampens sound, reducing the overall noise factor. Downsides include potential deterioration of the internal lining over the long term. The fibrous lining may be more prone to mold and mildew contamination.


Made of compressed resin-bonded glass fiber with an external foil covering, these types of duct are usually the most inexpensive to install. Fiberboard can be configured to fit almost any installation requirement. It also provides good insulation value and resists heat loss and gain. However, efficiency is somewhat diminished, as the rough internal surface of fiberboard impacts airflow and is also more susceptible to mold and mildew.

Flex ducts.

Composed of a wire coil covered with polymer plastic to form an airtight conduit, flexible types of duct are inexpensive, lightweight, and adaptable to diverse configurations. However, the inner ribs of flex ducts reduce airflow efficiency. Unless carefully installed, kinks and very sharp bends may form and restrict airflow more. In most residential installations, flexible types of duct should be as short as possible.

For more about the types of duct and how they impact your HVAC system performance and efficiency, contact Paitson Bros. We’ve been on the job for Wabash Valley residents since 1922.

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