When you move into your first home, especially if it is from an apartment where utilities are included, you may be shocked by the cost of heating and cooling your home. Or, if you move into a newer, bigger home, you may be surprised to see how much more it costs to heat and cool a bigger space. Or, you may notice over time that your home’s heating and cooling bills have increased due to the age of your home’s insulation.
No matter where you are in the life of your home, at some point you may look at your heating and cooling costs and think, “How can I make this go down while still keeping my home at a comfortable temperature for my family”?
The answer may be found in your windows and siding.
How New Windows Can Reduce Energy Costs
The very first thing you want to see on newly-installed windows is the Energy Star label. This label is a government-backed stamp of approval that says these products you are buying are energy efficient and will save money in the long run.
Next, you’ll need to determine what material makes up your window frames and the type of glass used in the window.
There are five main types of window frames. While many people put more stock into the appearance of the frame, each frame has a different level of energy efficiency.
Vinyl— Vinyl is the least expensive type of frame, but is still quite energy efficient when it comes to keeping your home’s temperature regulated. However, many people don’t choose vinyl for aesthetic reasons.
Wood— As far as insulation goes, there is no better insulator than wood. That said, there is more upkeep required with wood, not to mention the potential for warping in humid climates.
Wood-Clad— These are a compromise for those who want the look of wood without the expense. Most people choose vinyl for the exterior, as it holds up against the elements, with a wood core for insulation purposes. However, wood is not ideal for wet climates; the installation must be very tight to prevent water damage.
Aluminum— This is the most durable of all the window frames available. Locations that routinely experiences hurricanes find these window frames preferable. While they are not ideal for insulation, you can make up for that with the type of glass you use to increase energy efficiency.
Fiberglass— Fiberglass windows give homeowners the best of both worlds – they offer superior strength and durability, and they have excellent insulation properties. In fact, fiberglass will give you the best protection from any kind of weather conditions.
The type of window glass you purchase for energy efficiency depends on the climate in which you live. If you live in a cold area, you’ll want to consider a gas-filled window with low e-coatings to ensure as little heat as possible is lost through your window. Conversely, if you live in a warm climate, you’ll want windows with coatings to reduce heat gains from your window.
For warm climates, the biggest concern is the SHGC or the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient. This is the measure of solar radiation admitted through a window; in warm climates, a low SHGC is preferable. The combination of these two factors works well for temperate climates that have both cold and warm seasons.
How New Siding Can Reduce Energy Costs
New siding might seem like a huge project to undertake, but your siding can not only save on energy costs, but it can save you money in minimized upkeep over the years. Before you decide to replace your siding for energy efficiency purposes, the first thing you’ll need to do is choose which insulation would work best for your home.
House Wrap— A house wrap is a thin, membrane-like material that will reduce air entering your home and block water seepage as it allows water vapor to pass through it. This material is long lasting and recyclable, so you’re minimizing environmental impact.
Rigid Foam Insulation— Another option you might choose is rigid foam insulation. This differs from normal fiberglass insulation because it covers the entire outside wall rather than being placed in between studs.
Wood— There are many energy benefits to wood siding. For one, insulation works more effectively with wood siding. Wood is also eco-friendly and it also looks great on a home. Wood siding holds up well, even under bad weather conditions.
Unfortunately, wood siding is costly—not just up front, but over time. It must be routinely painted and repaired if there are any warped pieces. If it’s not regularly treated, insects can be a big issue as well.
Stucco— For energy efficiency, there is no better siding than stucco. It is so thick that it keeps the heat out and the cool air in. Areas that experience extreme heat, such as Arizona or Mexico, have popularized stucco.
Alternately, stucco’s brittleness makes it a poor choice for any area that experiences strong storms or hail, as damage needs to be fixed quickly. Any holes must be repaired immediately before moisture can get into the walls and cause damage. If you are in the wrong climate, stucco will cost you more over time than it is worth in energy savings.
Vinyl— One of the most popular siding options, vinyl is cost effective and energy efficient, especially when combined with the right form of insulation. Vinyl is environmentally friendly and widely available. Better yet, it stands up to harsh weather. In the past, it might not have come in a wide variety of colors and styles, but in recent years, vinyl has come a long way in terms of style.
Fiber cement— Fiber cement siding offers durability, beauty, energy efficiency, and ease of maintenance. It can be designed to mimic the appearance of natural wood, stone, and trim. This makes it a great choice for enhancing your home’s curb appeal without making your home difficult to care for.
To learn more about James Hardie siding, the #1 fiber-cement siding brand, click here.
If you’re looking for a way to reduce your energy costs in your home, whether the climate is cold, hot, or both, new windows and siding could significantly lower your energy costs and save you a great deal of money over time. Learn more about the siding and window replacement services we offer for homeowners throughout the St Louis region.