Is It Worth It to Install Insulated Siding?
Proper insulation is crucial to maintaining a comfortable and energy efficient home. Insulated siding is a relatively new way to achieve that, and it’s growing in popularity. Insulated siding is one of many improvements that can help a home receive Energy Star qualification.
Insulated siding has a layer of foam insulation between the siding and the exterior wall. With insulating values varying from R-2 to R-6, insulated siding increases the overall energy efficiency of your home. It also tends to look better because it is more rigid with fewer seams. Like uninsulated siding, it comes in a variety of styles, colors and textures.
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How Much Will I Save on My Energy Bills?
Insulated siding reduces energy bills by providing another layer of protection. Traditional insulation is placed between the studs on the side of exterior walls, so the studs themselves are not protected, allowing heat to escape in the winter and cool air in the summer. Adding insulated siding protects the entire home with a continuous layer of insulation.
Actual energy savings depend on the size of your home, how well it was insulated to start, your climate, etc. In a study commissioned by the Vinyl Siding Institute from 2010-2013, annual energy bills for five homes retrofitted with insulated siding declined an average of 5.5 percent. If you spend $2,500 per year (fairly average), that means annual savings of $137.50.
However, insulated siding costs anywhere from 15-30 percent more than comparable uninsulated siding, so it will take many years to recoup the extra expense in energy savings. Because of this, experts are torn on whether it’s worth the extra cost. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends considering adding insulation when you replace siding if your home is otherwise properly insulated (plenty of attic insulation and proper sealing) but still drafty.
There are other factors to consider, too:
- The lower the current R-value of your home, the greater effect insulated siding will have. If your current R-value is low, despite proper insulation elsewhere, insulated siding is likely a good investment. If your R-value is already good, skip it.
- If you decide that insulated siding is right for you, don’t overdo it on the product’s R-value. Mid-range is probably good enough. Insulated siding with an extremely high R-value is expensive, and in many cases it’s overkill.
- Generally, the larger and older your home, the more effective insulated siding will be.
- Insulated siding is most effective in extremely cold or hot climates. In mild areas, it’s not worth the extra money.
- Aside from energy savings, some people decide to go with insulated siding because of the environmental benefits of decreased energy use. If living a green lifestyle is important to you, insulated siding might be a good choice.
Bottom line: Insulated siding is a great choice for some people, but not others. Don’t let anyone talk you into it or out of it. Do your own research, talk to experts and make the decision that’s the best fit for your needs and budget.