Homeowners are always looking for ways to save money on everyday household expenses. With so many known (and unavoidable costs like taxes, HOA fees, and general maintenance it’s no surprise that everyone looks for places to save a few dollars.
For some homeowners this means keeping the thermostat low in the winter and high in the summer. But what can the rest of us do to be comfortable in our own homes without breaking the bank paying for heating and cooling?
As roofing and siding specialists, we have experience with insulation and know where homes lose their R-value (the construction industry term for how well something insulates against hot and cold temperatures and holds its ambient temperature). We have years of experience and industry-leading knowledge that we want to share with every questioning homeowner before they purchase the wrong upgrades for their home.
Read on for tips that will save you time and money, starting with one of the questions we are asked the most:
As siding specialists, we are regularly asked about how siding choices will affect energy bills. The short answer for “does insulated aluminum siding help save money year round” is yes, but it’s not because it’s made from aluminum. Anyone who is promising energy savings with more expensive siding options is overstating the value of the siding itself.
There are many reasons a homeowner would choose aluminum over vinyl (and vice versa), the real savings come from the insulation behind the siding. Well insulated aluminum siding will help you save money year round, but it’s because of the insulation that comes behind the siding, not the material itself.
There are many factors to consider when replacing the siding on your home, and many materials to choose from. To fully answer today’s question we will focus on the pros and cons of aluminum and vinyl and which we think is best for most homeowners.
Pros and Cons of Aluminum Siding:
Pros and Cons of Vinyl Siding:
Ultimately, we believe that vinyl gives homeowners greater choice in look as well larger energy savings (no matter what time of year).
For owners looking to sell we believe that choosing the right siding can offer a great return on investment. It makes your home look nicer and more efficiently protects it from inclement weather. Once again, upgrading your siding option can make your old house feel brand new while raising the home value, but it’s not necessarily important for R-values.
True year-round savings come from the type of insulation you use in your home.
Like exterior building materials, there are many options to choose from for insulation that goes behind your siding or in other problem areas of your home. Some insulations are more beneficial on the external segments of your home, so it’s important to know what is most effective and where it should go.
Insulation choices from presented from highest to lowest R-values:
The most popular choice for insulating home interiors and attics. It’s voluminous, inexpensive, and comes in large pre-cut sheets. Its soft and malleable nature means that it is easy to install and effective at insulating large areas.
Rigid Foam Insulation Board
These are the panels that go under your exterior siding (vinyl or aluminum). They come in a variety of materials and gauges and offer protection from extreme weather and a range of temperatures. In most cases, the thickness of the board will dictate how effective it is at insulating.
Foam insulation offers excellent energy efficiency but requires professional installation. Foam insulation is pumped between the siding and interior drywall during the siding installation process. Foam offers an airtight seal.
Insulated Vinyl Siding
This siding option takes traditional vinyl siding and pre-attached insulation on the back of the panels. It’s a very durable material that many contractors like to work with. The biggest drawback is that it comes with a hefty price tag but doesn’t deliver on efficiency. Choosing the best insulation for your home and climate will give you better results than mass-produced “general” insulation.
Siding is only one of the places where a house loses energy. If you really want to save money on your heating and cooling bills, it’s important to know where else energy is escaping your home.
Covering all vulnerable points will be your best bet to minimize unnecessary costs. Every environment is different, so take what applies to your context from this guide.
Starting at the top of a house is important, especially in the summer heat which can bake the air inside your home while your expensive air conditioning escapes up into the atmosphere. We recommend upgraded insulation in your attic to keep you comfortable (summer or winter).
We are often asked if re-roofing will help with energy efficiency. Unfortunately, re-roofing will help your house stay dry but doesn’t do much for R-value.
Windows / Doors
Opening and closing them can create a helpful draft when it’s nice out, but in the winter, it can let in a gust of cold air that will have you scurrying for another pair of socks. Even if you keep them closed tight, the panes and cracks are huge energy sinks. To fix this weatherstripping can be bought cheaply and applied. Similarly, inspect your window sills for cracks that can be sealed or painted over.
If you have very old windows or doors, consider upgrading to Energy Star products (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy regulatory seal of approval) that will save you on heating and cooling costs.
Floors / Basement
Like your attic space, the appearances aren’t quite as important, so having exposed fiberglass batting is a fairly common fix to insulate cold basements.
While we talked about cracks around doors and windows, those aren’t the only places that cracks show up in homes.
As siding settles over time, it can develop cracks or warps that expose some of your insulation to the elements, leading to more problems than simply being energy inefficient. Exposed insulation is a perfect home for all kinds of bugs and molds. If you have foam insulation, warped siding can pull it away from its fixed position, leading your house to be less and less efficient over time.
In some cases, houses (especially new homes) settle into their foundations. Depending on the engineering and soils, this can lead to cracks that become a drain on your wallet. Sealing this should be a priority to prevent moisture ingress and energy egress.
The bottom line is: if you see a crack, fill it asap.
As roofing and siding specialists, we have an inside line on taking care of your home and are here to answer all of your questions. Reach out to us today to see how we can help you.