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home in winter

Last week, we got started thinking about the importance of preventing energy loss as cooler temperatures loom ahead, and we talked about your best weapon against the cold: insulation. It’s the critical component for strategically preventing energy loss throughout your home. Today, we’ll focus on how insulated siding, in particular, can be useful for keeping your home comfortable in cold weather and keeping your heat from cycling over and over.

Insulated siding is an especially effective approach to keeping your home comfortable because your walls are more susceptible to energy loss than most other structures in your home. Wall studs found throughout your exterior walls are the culprit–while they’re essential to the soundness of your home’s structure, they do a terrible job of providing insulation. They present an issue referred to as “thermal bridging.” Basically, the studs expedite heat loss (or, in the summer, heat seeping in) because of their poor insulation, creating spots throughout the home which are cooling (in the winter) much more rapidly than other areas. This lowers the overall indoor temperature, and of course, in turn, makes your heating system work harder to catch up.

Enter insulated siding. Insulated siding introduces a foam core backing to traditional vinyl siding–an option that, in and of itself, is reliable, beautiful, and affordable. Insulated siding increases your home’s resistance to energy loss, and is available with R-values ranging from 1-5 (an R-value is a measure of a product’s insulating power). You can expect to see a reduction in energy costs, and potentially take advantage of tax credits, with products that offer R-values that meet or exceed EnergyStar standards (you can find out more about these standards and climate zones here). As the website RenoCompare notes, “To meet the criteria for the Energy Star program which might qualify you for tax credits or utility credits, the insulated vinyl siding must have an R-value of: R-3 for Climate Zones 1-4 in the southern half of the US, R-5 for Climate Zones 5-8 in the northern half of the US.”

Insulated siding has other benefits, too. It is more resistant to high winds and extreme weather events like hail. It also offers a bit more of a sound barrier than traditional vinyl siding, which could be particularly attractive if your neighborhood features closely-spaced homes.

Aesthetically speaking, you can find insulated siding in a wide array of colors and finishes. Because insulated vinyl siding panels are longer, they offer more uniformity and a cleaner look. This benefit can also reduce issues with panel seams that crop up over time, simply because there are fewer of them.

Insulated siding is a good investment for many homeowners, but your mileage may vary based on where you live. Because insulated siding costs around 50% more than traditional vinyl siding, the degree to which you will recoup the cost of installation depends on how extreme the weather is near your home. It’s a surer bet if you live in a climate that experiences more extreme hot or cold conditions. A home in a desert climate like Los Angeles, for example, can experience wild temperature swings in a single 24 hour period and incurs significant climate control costs. A home like this would be a good candidate for insulated siding. For a home in a very wet climate, on the other hand, the benefits may not outweigh the drawbacks. Insulated siding may slow down the drying out process if frequent heavy rains cause moisture to seep behind the siding. It’s a good idea to discuss adding insulated siding with a good local contractor who will be familiar with your home’s climate control and weatherproofing needs. Be sure to talk these issues over with professionals to assess what is right for your home and budget.

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