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Ask the expert: Are there efficiency benefits if I replace the siding on my home?

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.– When identifying ways to increase the efficiency of your home, most people think of replacing their windows, doors, and/or upgrading their heating and air conditioning system. They don’t think of replacing their siding. However, replacing the exterior envelope of your home can provide a significant energy savings, while increasing your home’s curb appeal.

The exterior of your home is the first defense against the outdoor elements. It is the barrier that keeps the inclement weather and extreme temperatures from adversely affecting the people inside your home and helps reinforce its overall structure.

If your siding has torn off, was damaged or is cracked, it is no longer protecting the exterior walls of your home. Nor is it keeping the conditioned air – provided by your heating and air conditioning system – inside your home. Not only are you wasting money on your energy bills, you are increasing the chances of further damage to every part of your home; the interior, exterior and foundation.

Many homeowners think of heat gain or heat loss due to the cracks and crevices around their windows and doors. However, it can also occur in places where there are breaks in your insulation, like between studs, joists and rafters. Even if there is thick insulation between the studs, joists and rafters, it does not stop the flow of heat to and from the exterior of your home as it is not continuous insulation. Meaning, even if your insulation has a high R value (measure of thermal resistance in insulation), heat can still transmit through the separations and cracks.

The walls, roof, foundation and ceilings can all be areas where conditioned air leaks out of your home, decreasing its efficiency. Whatever the season, if heat enters or exits your home, in either direction, it is never a good thing. You may notice temperature swings between rooms or between the upper and lower levels of your home. This can be a result of poor insulation. Ideally the temperature in every room should be consistent throughout your home.

Think of it this way; if you have a down jacket with a tennis ball-sized hole, the best way to keep the cold air out is to patch the hole, not fill it with more down stuffing. By patching the hole, you are creating continuous insulation. The same holds true with your home. Continuous insulation blocks heat transfer by enveloping the complete exterior of your home with foam or fiberglass board, installed underneath your siding.

Continuous insulation blocks heat transfer by covering all sides of your home, including the studs and can have a huge impact on household comfort and efficiency. A proper siding and insulation upgrade will reduce drafts, as well as condensation within the walls of your home. Walls aren’t supposed to breathe, nor should they trap moisture. Vapor barriers and caulking beneath siding eliminates drafts but if not done right, can trap moisture. This creates an environment where mold and mildew can form.

Some say that sealing your home completely, where there are no air exchanges, can be problematic. Fortunately, there are vapor barriers that prevent drafts and keep moisture out, while allowing moisture to escape. This will prevent mold and mildew from forming inside the walls.

If your siding is showing signs of aging and is in need of replacement, seize the opportunity to improve the efficiency of your home at the same time. Wrapping your home, adding the right type of continuous insulation and using a quality siding product can add to the efficiency of your home and the level of comfort you will experience.

When speaking with a siding contractor, ask about mold prevention, air sealing and ventilation. There is no “one size fits all” approach when upgrading your home, so it is important to ask questions. If the contractor you are speaking with is dismissive of your questions, or can’t provide clear answers, it is a red flag. They may be inexperienced and cannot offer the expertise needed for your project.

The benefits of a properly insulated and sided home include; improved temperature consistency from room to room, better health for your family and can provide significant utility savings. Properly installed siding will help keep inside temperatures in and outside temperatures out.

Kamil Maras, President – B&B Siding LLC

(718) 757-2904 www.bbsiding.com

All our experts are licensed, bonded and insured members of the Home Improvement Contractors of Staten Island (HIC of Staten Island). Homeowners should always consult with licensed professionals, check a contractor’s license through the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (call 311 for information) and ensure that their project complies with NYC DOB regulations before embarking on any home improvement project. For more information contact us at (718) 356-2323 or visit www.hicofsi.org.

To ask your home improvement questions contact: questionsfortheexpert@gmail.com.

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