Siding saves on energy costs

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This past winter, the numbers were as unpleasant as the temperatures outside.

According to the Chicago Weather Center, the Windy City’s average winter temperature this year makes the 2013-2014 season one of the city’s coldest since 1871. This winter also delivered nearly 25 days of zero-degree or colder temperatures, more than the last five winters combined.

The frigid air had Chicago area residents clamoring for summer, but also ways to combat sticker shock. With the brutally cold days mounting, many homeowners are spending more than ever on gas and electricity to heat the home.

“The poor weather we’ve had this winter has everybody thinking about ways they can reduce their energy bills,” said Bill Shaheen, owner of Orland Park-based Energy Savers Vinyl Windows & Siding.

As heat travels – flowing out in the winter and into the home during the summer season – proper insulation, including siding, is one key combatant in the homeowner’s crusade against rising energy costs and Mother Nature’s wrath.

As a first step to boost the home’s energy efficiency, Shaheen suggests homeowners walk around their residence and look for gaps in the siding. Generally, he says, the gaps can be found around hoses and vents and can be sealed with exterior caulk or an expanding foam spray.

For many homeowners, however, the band-aid measures – though helpful – will fall far short of delivering recognizable savings. That reality will compel many homeowners to investigate more robust interventions to improve the home’s energy efficiency, including new siding and insulation.

While many homeowners are understandably concerned about the hefty investment new siding demands – running in the $5,000-$9,000 range for a local 2,000-square-foot home – the monthly savings can be immense. Shaheen, in fact, said many of the area’s older homes, particularly those constructed before the 1960s, do not have insulation in the walls, a reality that leads to surging energy bills whenever extreme weather hits.

“When you go from no insulation to modern insulation and siding properly installed by a professional, you’re talking about a night and day difference,” Shaheen said.

When making the decision to invest in new siding, Shaheen recommends homeowners seek a more energy-efficient home install, at the minimum, Tyvek HomeWrap, which controls air flow and moisture intrusion, followed by one-quarter inch of insulation and then siding.

“The insulation will keep the cold out in the winter and the heat out in the summer, while the Tyvek wrap keeps out any moisture,” Shaheen said, adding that vinyl siding is today’s most popular consumer selection given that it requires little maintenance, offers better sound control and comes in a variety of style, colors and finishes to suit any home’s character.

Yet, homeowners might also elect to install insulation-backed siding, a higher performance option that heightens the home’s barrier against extreme temperatures.

According to the Washington, D.C.-based Vinyl Siding Institute, insulated siding is designed to reach higher levels of rigidity, dimensional stability and thermal performance through R-value testing, which measures an insulation product’s thermal resistance. The higher the R-value, the more effective the insulation.

When choosing a siding product with quality foam insulation, a home’s R-value will jump 3-5 points, which Shaheen said would result in noticeable and consistent energy savings.

“Not a lot of homeowners invest in the siding with insulation on the back because it carries a higher cost, but it is definitely a more energy-efficient product,” he said.

While homeowners might balk at the added investment, another Polar Vortex could have local homeowners framing that debate in a different light.

“When you have a winter like we’ve had here in the Chicago area, it really wakes people up and gets them thinking about ways they can improve their home’s energy efficiency, even if it means a larger initial investment,” Shaheen said.

More information about Energy Savers Vinyl Windows & Siding is at (708) 212-2095.