When building a house or replacing the exterior siding on a house, homeowners are always seeking to both make the house look fantastic and be as energy efficient as possible. When considering energy efficiency, most homeowners focus solely on the R-value of the insulation that is installed inside the walls. While this is a major part of insulating the home from energy loss, there is an often overlooked aspect which can boost the energy efficiency of a home greatly.
First, a bit of science…think back to your middle school science class where your teacher tried his or her hardest to keep your young brain on task when teaching you about energy (heat) transfer. There are three primary ways in which energy can move from one place to another: convection, conduction, and radiation. Convection is the transfer of heat through the movement of particles from regions of high temperature to regions of low temperature in a fluid (i.e. boiling waters, air currents, etc.). Conduction is the transfer of heat through particles colliding and transferring energy from regions of high temperature to regions of low temperature (i.e. the handle of a metal rod in a fireplace gets hot). Radiation is the transfer of energy through an electromagnetic wave (i.e. the fry lamp at McDonald’s). Essentially in convection, particles move from point A to point B to move the energy, in conduction, particles bump each other passing energy along, and in radiation, no particles are need to move the energy since it is carried in a wave.
The insulation in a house primarily limits heat loss in the house from convection and conduction. However, it does not significantly address heat loss through radiation. When the sun’s rays beat down on a house, a great deal of energy in the form of electromagnetic waves bombards the house and heat is transferred into the house through radiation. This is why many people choose to have windows installed with thin metallic coatings on the glass to reflect a portion of this energy and prevent it from entering the house. The same principle can be applied to the wrapping of the exterior of the house.
House wrapping is the standard practice when building a modern home. Typically this involves wrapping a thick composite sheet of plastic-like material around the entire exterior of the house before installing the siding material (brick, vinyl, etc.), This wrap eliminates many of the draft producing cracks that might be present in the structure of the house. This helps limit the heat loss through convection. At Energy Windows LLC, we recommend to our customers to use a product that also drastically reduces the heat transfer through radiation: Low-E House Wrap. This product works just like regular house wrap but incorporates a metallic outer layer which reflects electromagnetic waves which contribute to heat transfer through the exterior walls of the home.
Check out this thermal image taken by the manufacturer of two near identical homes that are next door to each on a summer day. The only difference between the two is that one has the Low-E House Wrap and one has a standard house wrap. It’s easy to see which one is which.
So, if you are considering upgrading your home with vinyl siding, give Energy Windows LLC a call. We can install a Low-E home wrap to your home to help lower your energy bills and install high quality siding to make your home look fantastic.