How Updating Your Siding Can Improve Your Home’s Energy Efficiency



While replacing the siding on your home restores its functional and aesthetic value, a lesser-known benefit is its ability to enhance your home’s energy efficiency. How does replacing siding add value to your home? In this article, we’ll discuss the energy efficiency of several siding solutions and help you decide which one is best for your needs.

Energy Efficiency Ratings for Siding

There are two primary metrics used to measure energy efficiency — R-value and U-value. We’ll explain each concept in turn below.

What Is R-Value?

R-value tells you how well a specific material insulates. A higher R-value indicates better insulation ability, meaning you can expect to save more energy and money.

R-value depends on three primary factors:

  • The type of insulation
  • The insulation’s thickness
  • The insulation’s density

However, in some cases, these factors will also affect the R-value:

  • The insulation’s age
  • The amount of moisture that has accumulated
  • The temperature

To calculate the R-value of an installation with multiple layers, add up the R-values of each layer.

One essential thing to note about R-values is that they only apply to specific materials, not systems.


What Is U-Value?

Whereas R-value only rates specific materials, U-value rates entire systems. When buying doors, windows or other products that feature multiple layers, U-value will often give you a better idea of how well it insulates.

U-values range from 0 to 1, and unlike R-values, where a higher number means more energy efficiency, the opposite is true for U-values. A U-value is generally a low number because it rates how much heat energy the system loses or gains.

If you want to better understand what U-values are, we’ll get into a bit of math — the U-value is the reciprocal of the R-value, meaning that the U-value equals 1 divided by the R-value. Likewise, the R-value equals 1 divided by the U value. For instance, if a material has a 4 R-value, it has a U-value of 0.25, which is 1 divided by 4.

In straightforward terms, if the R-value is high, the U-value will be low, and vice versa. However, the differences between these two metrics are a bit more complicated.

Engineers use U-value to describe a system’s thermal performance. Traditionally, it’s rated windows and other products that consist of multiple materials. R-value, on the other hand, generally applies to construction components that consist of a single material. To determine a wall cavity’s total R-value, which refers to the area between framing members, add up each component’s R-value, such as the insulation, sheathing and drywall.

U-values don’t allow for such straightforward calculations. For example, in the case of a window system, each window consists of various materials, many of which perform different functions. Though some of these materials may help stop heat transfer, other components may work to filtrate air, ventilate or serve some other purpose.

U-value describes energy transfer via radiation and conduction, whereas R-value only describes resistance to heat transfer.

Is James Hardie Fiber Cement Siding Energy-Efficient?

James Hardie fiber cement refers to a composite material that consists of sand, water and cellulose wood fibers. This durable material, which imitates authentic wood, is also suitable for any climate found in the United States.


How Energy-Efficient Is James Hardie Fiber Cement Siding?

While Hardie Board itself isn’t especially energy-efficient, we install Fanfold insulation panels behind it to boost its insulation performance and offer better energy efficiency, making it an excellent option even if your home’s existing installation isn’t in good shape.

It’s Exceptionally Durable

Durability is probably the best-known and most valuable benefit that Hardie Board provides. Due to its cellulose wood fiber, water and sand composition, it can withstand practically any extreme weather condition Mother Nature could throw at it. This impressive resistance to harsh natural elements makes it a siding solution for homes in almost any climate.

James Hardie fiber cement is fire-resistant, waterproof and pest-resistant, meaning that it lasts for a long time and, even more importantly, will protect your home’s interior for years without breaking or warping.

It Lasts a Long Time

As is true of many extremely durable products, Hardie Board also has a long lifespan — longer than almost all other siding materials on the market. This material won’t rot, warp or buckle, and the 30- to 50-year warranties that generally come with Hardie Board speak to the material’s reliability. With the right installation and care, you might not need to replace your Hardie Board at all. However, if you do, you can depend on your warranty.

Its Colors Last, Too

Whereas wood siding needs a fresh coat of paint every several years, Hardie Board fiber cement needs relatively few paint jobs during its life. Hardie Board features ColorPlus® technology, a baked-on coat that helps colors retain their vibrancy for longer. This coating also protects against scratching.

It’s Attractive and Comes in Many Designs

Hardie Board fiber cement is also beautiful, as it features grain and grooves that effectively mimic natural wood. In other words, you can enjoy the beauty of genuine wood without having to spend time and money on upkeep.

Hardie Board is also available in many designs — you can choose between horizontal and certain paneling, between rough or smooth texture, and there are even options like stucco and shingles. With this abundance of options, you’ll be able to achieve whatever look you want for your home.

It’s Environmentally Friendly

What type of siding is most energy-efficient? Many builders consider Hardie Board to be the greenest siding option due to the company’s sustainable practices and use of natural materials. By choosing Hardie Board as your siding, you’re not only getting a durable and beautiful product — you’re also making a statement that you want to help the environment.

It’s Resistant to Storm Damage

Strong winds, hail and other weather phenomena can damage many types of siding. However, the strength and composition of fiber cement allow this siding to withstand heavy impacts much more effectively. Hardie Board does not dent or crack, making it one of the best solutions if you want to protect your home’s exterior from damage.

Sheathing Products Can Increase Its Energy Efficiency

While Hardie Board itself does not significantly increase your home’s energy efficiency, it is compatible with insulating sheathing products, like the Fanfold insulation we use, which will boost your siding system’s R-value.

Is Vinyl Siding Energy-Efficient?

Vinyl siding consists of two layers — capstock and substrate. The capstock features titanium dioxide, which protects against wear and fading from sunlight, and the substrate uses limestone, which makes it stronger and more durable.


How Energy-Efficient Is Vinyl Siding?

Vinyl siding’s two-layer structure helps stop the transfer of heat coming from either side. Lighter-colored vinyl siding can deflect the sun’s heat in the summer and block cold winds in the winter. Together with the insulation in your walls and drywall on your home’s interior, vinyl siding helps keep your environment comfortable throughout the year.

Insulated vinyl siding is also available, which can help improve your energy efficiency. You’ll especially notice an improvement in vinyl siding energy savings if you install it on an older home. Insulated vinyl siding is unnecessary on newer houses, though standard vinyl siding can help the home maintain peak efficiency levels.

Another advantage of vinyl siding is that it’s considerably more affordable than other exterior finishing materials like brick and fiber cement siding. While heavier siding materials such as brick may provide a thicker heat barrier, modern vinyl siding is durable enough to protect your home in any weather.

Here are some other vinyl siding benefits you should know about.

1. It Helps Maintain Proper Humidity Levels

Vinyl siding is exceptionally resistant to all weather types and helps maintain adequate dryness levels in your house. Snow, hail and hard rain cannot penetrate vinyl, which protects your framing, insulation and other interior materials from mildew, mold, rot and other harmful conditions.

If you replace or add to existing insulation in your home without taking care of your outer siding, you won’t do much to improve energy efficiency. To maximize your system, you must keep moisture away from your home’s insulating layer. If you have rotten wood siding or crumbling brick siding, consider replacing these with a modern vinyl siding product, which will protect your home from moisture.

2. It’s Very Low-Maintenance

Vinyl siding is practically maintenance-free. The only thing you should do periodically is to wash it down thoroughly using a hose to make it look new. Part of the thinking behind this low-maintenance siding is that it reduces the use of paints, stains and other chemicals that can harm your family and the environment.

Furthermore, you don’t have to worry about its performance declining over time — it will function consistently for many years to come. Even after many years, vinyl siding will provide just as much protection as the day you had it installed.

3. You Might Be Eligible for a Rebate

In some cases, installing new energy-efficient siding could qualify you for an energy tax credit. The federal government offers various incentives for green home upgrades, which savvy homeowners should take advantage of.

4. It’s Environmentally Friendly

As you know, vinyl siding lasts a long time, especially if it is one of the thicker varieties. Because you won’t need to replace it very often, this means less waste and environmental impact.

You can also repair this energy-efficient siding without generating much waste. The panel design allows you to replace smaller components and pieces, instead of reinstalling your entire setup. If your vinyl siding has cracked, split or dented, a professional vinyl siding installer can quickly replace the damaged sections, and your home will look like its old self in no time.

In summary, vinyl siding provides a lot more advantages than most homeowners realize — it can keep your home dry and warm, requires minimal maintenance and is ideal for practically any climate. When combined with quality insulation and a professional installation, vinyl siding can significantly improve your home’s energy efficiency, while simultaneously making it more comfortable and attractive.

Which Type of Siding Is the Most Energy-Efficient?

No standard siding material is maximally efficient. Most siding R-values are less than 1. Standard vinyl siding has an R-value of 0.61, and Hardie siding’s R-value is 0.37. While vinyl siding is more energy-efficient, neither makes a significant difference in how much energy your home will save. However, insulated vinyl siding R-values are significantly higher — between 3 and 4.

If you want to make your home more energy-efficient and aren’t sure whether installing insulated vinyl siding is the best solution, it depends. If you’re building a new house, it makes more sense to spend your money on upgrading your walls from 2″ x 4″s to 2″ x 6″s or picking a better type of insulation. However, if you’re adding new siding to an existing house, installing insulated vinyl siding is a very cost-effective way to help your home become more energy-efficient.


Replace Your Siding With Sunshine Contracting

If you’re wondering how to improve your home’s energy efficiency, your first step should be finding a skilled partner. At Sunshine Contracting, our priority is to provide professional, high-quality work that boosts your home’s value and keeps it beautiful and durable for many years in the future. We understand how much your home means to you, and when we work on it, we’ll treat it as if it’s our property. When you hire Sunshine Contracting to work on your home, rest assured you’ll be getting the highest-quality service, premium products and the most generous warranties available.

As a remodeling and home improvement leader in Northern Virginia, we have done work throughout the region, and the Washington Post has featured us. We also have a growing number of glowing testimonials from satisfied clients, which reflect our reputation as the region’s top home construction and home remodeling company.

We provide all customers with the highest-quality service as professionally as possible. We provide skilled craftsmanship, competitive prices and, in many cases, a lifetime warranty on labor and materials. We’re also licensed and insured, which further protects the valuable investment you’re making.

We’re excited by the opportunity to assist you with your project. To schedule a complimentary in-home consultation, provide your information using our form, and a team member will be in touch with you shortly.

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