By Christine Cooney, The House Designers Staff Writer
While insulation remains the main ingredient in blanketing your home in energy efficiency, combined with innovative products like insulated siding, entry doors, garage doors and energy efficient windows, you can maximize your savings on heating and cooling.
Our architects and designers are very focused on designing the most eco-friendly house plans, which is why they recommend incorporating as many of these new insulated products into your home design.
One of the newest products to hit the home building industry is insulated siding, which was recently recognized by ENERGY STAR® and other energy-efficiency programs as home insulation to offer homeowners more options to wrap their home in efficiency. Leading the pack in insulating siding is Ply Gem®, which offers two insulated siding systems — Variform by Ply Gem ClimaForce™ Insulated Siding and Mastic Home Exteriors® by Ply Gem Structure® Home Insulation System. These new products make it easier for homeowners to qualify for the ENERGY STAR® Qualified Homes Program because of their ability to reduce heat loss.
Equally important to sealing your home is installing insulated entry doors and garage doors, because these are common areas where homes lose heat and cooling due to air escaping.
If your garage is attached to your home and/or you have finished living space, an insulated garage door will help with heat loss, as well as minimize noise. Look for a steel door that is constructed with a thick-gauge steel outer skin (when comparing strengths of steel, remember that the lower the gauge number, the thicker and stronger the steel is), a core of insulation adhered to the steel skin and a light-gauge backing material of steel or plastic. This type of construction makes the door durable and lightweight. Thickness of insulation can range from a thin sheet of polystyrene to as much as 2 in. of polyurethane with R-values ranging from 5 to 10 – so be sure depending on the size of your garage you select adequate insulation.
It is estimated as much as a third of energy loss in a garage comes from the garage door, so selecting a steel insulated garage door just makes perfect sense to combat such high energy loss. Having an insulated garage door can increase the efficiency inside your garage by at least 33 percent and they operate much quieter.
When it comes to your entry doors, look for fiberglass doors that are ENERGY STAR® compliant and insulated. Our designers recommend Therma-Tru® fiberglass doors, which are filled with CFC-free polyurethane foam giving them an R-Value 5 times higher than a wood door and almost as insulating as the wall of an average home.
Here’s a really interesting product that uses a technology that was developed by NASA to help regulate the temperature inside an astronauts space suit when they did one of their famed “space walks.” It’s a radiant barrier material paint additive from KOOLCOAT® that’s inexpensive and easy to use (sprayed, rolled or brushed). By mixing it with any paint product you can effectively block up to 97% of harmful UV rays and lower energy costs by up to 50% combined with proper home insulation. You can use it as a radiant barrier when you apply it to a high quality roof paint, which will add years to the life of your roof and provide added insulation. Used on your interior walls and ceilings it will help lower energy costs and regulate the temperature in your home.