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jagmandan 05-29-2012 07:11 PM

Basement return duct
Hi all,

Searched this a bit but wanted to lay out my situation. My house sits atop an unfinished, unconditioned basement. The air handler is down there. I generally don't use A/C much during the summer. Sometimes I run the A/C for an hour or so at the end of the day to cool the house down faster. I have often wondered if I could put an opening in my return ducting to draw the cool basement air up into the house to accomplish this.

Concerns from searching:
-effect will be temporary (ok)
-watch out for gas fired appliances down there (no problem, all electric)

If I put a filtered opening that I can seal in the winter, any other concerns with this plan?


jb64 05-29-2012 07:38 PM

just turn the fan to on. there should be no dangerous gases, {outside of raydon or the like} it will circulate the air with minimal expense.

jagmandan 05-29-2012 08:23 PM


Originally Posted by jb64 (Post 931699)
just turn the fan to on. there should be no dangerous gases, {outside of raydon or the like} it will circulate the air with minimal expense.

Yep, that's the idea. But it's a closed system down there so I will have to cut the duct and maybe block the upstairs returns. Forgot to mention there is a door to the basement that I can leave open which I'm hoping will prevent any pressure issues.

gregzoll 05-29-2012 08:29 PM

jagmandan, you are going to waste more energy & electric by trying to reinvent the wheel. Unless your house leaks like a sieve, you are best to set the a/c at a sustainable temp and then 30 min's before you come home, drop it a degree or two. I can set mine at 72 deg's, and it only kicks on maybe three or four times while I am at work for 8 hours. The house holds at 73 degrees all day, due to I have the swing set at 1.5.

My bills are no more during the Summer months, than during the Winter for electric. Learn how to use the hvac system in your home more effectively, along with making sure that your home is weather tight, along with using stuff like UV film on the windows to block direct sunlight from heating up the home during the Summer.

As for your original question, pulling the cool air down there, will also bring up any smells from down there, and will only last as long as the coolness in the air. The reason that it feels cooler down there, is because the humidity is lower, along with dew point.

jagmandan 05-29-2012 08:36 PM

Hey Greg,

I'm really only partially concerned about the overall electricity - it's more that prefer open windows to humming register vents.

I did do a pretty extensive air sealing last fall and, now that you mention it, would be interested to see how it helps the A/C.

But, I am not immune to the opinion that this experiment might not be worth the effort... we'll see.


gregzoll 05-29-2012 09:18 PM

Really, if the system is newer and even if it was older, as long as it has been well maintained, and you set and forget, the electric used, should be no more than during Winter heating months. Right now, my Ted 5000 is projecting my next bill to be around 778.8kwh, but at 14 days into the billing cycle, I have only used 373.9kWh. That means either I will hit it, or miss it. My average bill is around 523.33kWh for a six month average.

I do not even worry about the bill, since it breaks even, with letting the air stay at 72 when away, and when home, either leave it there, or if it starts cooling down, like it will be for the rest of the week, I will probably drop it a degree or two and place the thermostat in hold mode, and not worry.

You just need to not run for a hour or two, due to you are wasting money, not saving. Unless you are in a area that it gets below 50 during the night, and stays no more than 84 during the day, running the air is pointless, so is running a fan to compensate when not using it. Also, the hvac system is not getting its exercise as it should be, due to only running it for a hour or two every day, means that sooner or later, problems will arise.

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