Insulated vinyl siding: A hot idea for keeping homes cool

Insulated vinyl siding: A hot idea for keeping homes cool

When people hear the word "insulation," thoughts of freezing temperatures and severe winters usually come to mind. After all, a home's insulation level is only an issue when it's located in a part of the country that has cold weather, right? Actually, having a building shell that's adequately insulated can help lower summer energy costs just as it does when using a furnace during the winter.

Insulated vinyl siding: It's not just for cold weather homes

What exactly does insulation do for your home? First, you need to understand a basic law of physics: Hot air normally gravitates toward adjacent cooler air. This is why the air inside a home being heated during the winter gradually moves toward unconditioned spaces such as attics, garages, and the outside. Insulation is used as a barrier to help prevent the air you're paying to heat from passing through your home's outer shell or envelope to those unconditioned areas.

The amount of protection in a home's outer shell is measured by "R-value." Energy Star defines R-value as a measurement of a material's "ability to resist air flow." Materials with higher R-values offer more resistance when air attempts to pass through space they occupy. That means that a home with the recommended R-values for its region in its exterior walls, attic, and basement should keep heated air inside during the cold winter months.

So what does all of this have to do with houses in southern climes where air-conditioning is important and furnaces seldom used? The same law of physics applies to the hot summer air outside your home -- it's attracted to the inside air you're paying to cool. The barrier created by your home's outer shell works to keep that hot air outdoors and reduces the load on your air-conditioning system -- and that can result in lower summer energy costs.

Is there an easy method for increasing the R-value of your home's exterior walls? The outer shell of a typical house may consist of these elements:

  • Sheetrock or interior wall finish material
  • Wood framing
  • Insulation
  • Intermediate sheathing
  • Exterior siding

While all of these materials contribute to the total R-value rating of your home's outer envelope, there's only one that can easily be upgraded: the exterior siding.

If you're unsure whether the shell of your warm weather home meets the recommended R-value for the region, installing insulated vinyl siding can be an easy and budget-friendly method for providing a boost. Styles such as CertainTeed's CedarBoards Insulated vinyl siding can increase your home's exterior R-value by as much as 2.7. If you live in a warm weather area, help get your summer energy costs under control by using insulated vinyl siding to keep hot air outside where it belongs.

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