If there’s one thing all homeowners are keen to do, it’s saving energy. Saving energy not only does the planet a whole lot of good, but it can help drive down the cost of operating your home. This is why thermostats typically stay between 69 and 72 degrees, windows have dressings, and insulation is added in a house. But if you’re building from the ground up, you have the unique opportunity of creating the leanest, meanest, greenest house on the block. You’re probably already eyeing such wonderful, natural and sustainable materials like granite, bamboo flooring, and investing in energy efficient HVAC and power. But what about the shell of your home, its facing? We’re here to break down the energy efficiency of siding options and what will work best for your style and your savings.
While no one type of siding is ever going to be notable at helping save energy, there are some better options and some not-really-all-that-awesome options. In the end, though, you’ll want to invest in a high quality insulation material and fill your walls (from the basement on up) and your attic with it. There are several types of insulation all with their pros and cons. To make the best choice, research your climate and the recommended R-values for insulations in your area. Insulation helps save roughly 50% on heating and cooling costs by making it harder for contrasting temperatures to travel through your walls, or even reflecting the heat and cold away from your home’s interior. That said, let’s get crackin’!
She’s a brick…. Houuuuuse! She’s mighty mighty, but she does not let it all hang out. Brick is a fabulous material for your house facing. It’s classic and austere looking, and it also acts as a great sound barrier. It’s the thermal mass, though, that gives this clay-based material its edge over other materials. Thermal mass is the ability of a material to absorb, retain, and release heat. Brick’s thermal mass means that when it gets hot in the summer, that heat is absorbed and released. When it’s cold, the heat is retained keeping you warm and cozy.
Rustic and charming wood siding houses are a beautiful sight to behold. As far as the R-value of house siding materials, wood is where it’s at. To reiterate, no siding material is particularly rich in R-value, but wood ranks highest at 0.87. Add your insulation to this number and you’ll be kept in comfort for the rest of your days. Notwithstanding fire and maintenance factors, this is a great building material for your home’s exterior.
Stucco goes all the way back to ancient Greece. It’s an incredibly popular siding option for moderate climates. This lightweight material, however, is thin and brittle making it less than optimal for added insulation. Stucco is only about 2 inches thick, which makes its thermal mass pale in comparison to other materials. If you happen to have a brick house and want to give your home a face lift, layering stucco over your brick is an excellent option as it adds a layer to the already sturdy brick, helping it trap even more heat and regulate temperature better.
Vinyl siding has the advantage of being easy to install and inexpensive. But with a cheaper investment comes a cheaper overall product. You can opt for insulation backed vinyl siding and that will give your house a boost in energy savings. While its R-value is slightly higher than brick, like it delicate friend Stucco, the thermal mass is nil for vinyl.
Pick Your Poison
Ultimately, you will need real insulation to really make your house energy efficient. Bearing this in mind, while there are slight advantages and disadvantages to each material it essentially comes down to brass tax. What fits your vision? What fits your climate? What fits your budget? It’s your masterpiece. Do what’s right for you.