Exterior Siding And Energy Efficiency

Doors, windows, siding and other elements make up the outer shell -- or envelope -- of your home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, many homes suffer from leaky envelopes due to inadequate insulation or gaps and openings within the envelope, which wastes energy and costs you money, While adding insulation in walls and using seals around doors and windows can help with this problem, many efficiency-minded homeowners fail to account for the impact of siding on home efficiency levels. Follow these four tips to make your siding more efficient and maximize both comfort and savings.

Pick Insulated Siding

Popular siding materials like vinyl or fiber cement are notoriously poor insulators on their own, so many manufacturers offer products with built-in foam insulation bonded to the back of the siding. These products boost the thermal resistance of the wall, yet are easy to install because they don't require any extra steps, like uninsulated products do. 

Consider Wood

In general, wood offers a higher natural insulating ability than synthetic alternatives, including uninsulated vinyl, fiber cement or masonry. If you can't find an insulated product you like, maximize efficiency with wood. Consider lapping the wood to "double-up" the layers and increase the efficiency, as opposed to using panels or planks installed flat against the wall framing.

Insulate Over the Sheathing

Many homeowners simply install siding right over wall sheathing, figuring that the fiberglass insulation used inside of wall cavities offers plenty of thermal resistance. Keep in mind, however, that studs account for about 25 percent of exterior walls, so failure to insulate over the sheathing and under the siding still leaves a large area of your envelope with no insulation at all. Always invest in a layer of insulatiion on the outside of your home too, even if you use insulated siding. Pick rigid foam, which has an R-value of 3.8 to 5.0 per inch, to ensure the highest level of insulation in the smallest amount of space.

Don't Forget Air Sealing

All that insulation won't do you much good if you still have large gaps in your envelope where air can leak through. Inject caulk between seams of both wall sheathing and rigid insulation before installing siding, and use expanding foam around any penetrations that pass through your siding, such as a hose bib. Once the siding is up, use caulk to seal around any transition areas between the siding and other materials, such as where the siding meets the soffit or foundation.

For more information, contact Liberty Exteriors LLC or a similar company.

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