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Energy-efficient Siding: Is Vinyl the Choice for You?July 19th, 2012 by
When it comes to saving money on monthly utility bills, homeowners have a seemingly endless list of updates to choose from. Major appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, and washer/dryers are much more efficient and have shorter cycle times than their older counterparts. Low-flow plumbing fixtures and tankless water heaters all help reduce water waste and usage.
Another energy-conscious renovation homeowners can implement doesn’t exist inside of the home but surrounds the home itself: insulated vinyl siding. There are many benefits (as well as several disadvantages) to choosing insulated vinyl siding, much related to its energy efficiency.
Better Insulation = More Savings
A home’s siding is a crucial line of defense against seasonal weather and temperature changes. A poorly insulated exterior leads to heat loss in the winter and cooling loss in the summer. Regarding its impact on a home’s interior temperature, think of uninsulated vinyl siding as a window or door being left open in the middle of winter.
Insulated vinyl siding’s ability to maintain interior temperatures can drastically reduce an air conditioning and heating system’s workload and energy consumption.
One of the selling points of insulated vinyl siding is its durability and ease of care, which saves homeowners from having to expend their energy—not to mention time and money—on future maintenance and upkeep costs.
Compared to other types of siding, however, homeowners sacrifice the ease of updating the look of their home; vinyl siding cannot be painted or restained once it’s fabricated, meaning you will need to tear down and reinstall an entirely new set of vinyl siding to change your home’s appearance.
Less Maintenance, Improved Performance
Made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) resins and acrylics, vinyl siding, in general, requires less maintenance than most other types of siding. Today’s vinyl siding comes in a virtually endless variety of color and texture options that are engineered to withstand the elements and keep a fresh appearance far longer than older vinyl siding did.
Moreover, Vinyl will not rot over time, it doesn’t attract termites and other bugs, and for the most part, maintenance involves only an occasional spray with a garden hose to rinse off accumulating dirt. However, without proper installation, potential moisture damage can lead to mold and mildew problems.
Insulated vinyl siding, in particular, is more durable than standard Vinyl. Panels backed with insulation keep their shape better during the periods of expansion and contraction that all outdoor vinyl products undergo, reducing moisture buildup and seam or gap problems. Insulated vinyl also offers higher resistance to dents and surface damage.
The presence of the insulation itself provides the siding with greater resiliency. Homeowners who choose insulated vinyl siding over non-insulated vinyl for their home may, therefore, realize savings on both interior and exterior costs: its energy efficiency saves money on heating and cooling bills, and its durability saves money and effort on exterior home maintenance.
The “Green” Side of Vinyl Siding
The “greenest” point about insulated vinyl siding is, of course, its capacity to reduce a household’s energy consumption by preserving the home’s interior temperature. But more than just conserving resources within the home, insulated vinyl siding is a “green” siding option on a larger scale, due in part to the recycling processes inherent to its manufacturing.
Scrap Vinyl resulting from manufacturing processes can easily and immediately be reprocessed into batches of material for new siding. However, post-consumer siding is harder to recycle and usually sent to landfills.
The manufacturing process of Vinyl siding has also proved to release fewer toxic chemicals and emit fewer dioxins into the atmosphere and environment than other exterior cladding materials. Unlike wood siding, for example, vinyl requires less fuel to transport, produces fewer factory emissions during production, and is entirely lead-free.
It’s important to note that vinyl does release carcinogenic compounds during production as well as if caught on fire; it is more at risk than other types of siding to direct heat, meaning homeowners must be extra careful when grilling or building an outdoor fire in a fire pit near the home.
Vinyl Siding Today
With industry advancements in material durability, not to mention the close resemblance to wood offered by insulated vinyl, many contractors and DIY-enthusiasts find that the wide variety of vinyl’s colors and textures can create the perfect aesthetic for a home.
That being said, there exist several popular types of siding with various benefits in energy efficiency, which are detailed in Different Types of Siding and How to Choose What’s Best for You. Homeowners should do their research and consider all options before investing in their home’s exterior.
If you’re thinking of building a home or renovating your home’s exterior, talk with a Best Pick to find out what type of siding is the right fit for you.