Cool Remodeling

Improvements to the outside of your home offer excellent opportunities to incorporate energy-saving measures with little additional effort. New siding, windows, and doors can improve the efficiency of your home, if installed carefully. Careless installation may however result in water damage, fogged or frosty windows, and drafts.

Siding replacement and window replacement are best combined together rather than performed separately. When siding and windows are installed at the same time, it’s easier to integrate a perfect water barrier into the exterior walls. This is important because poor window installation is responsible for millions of dollars in moisture damage each year.

New high-efficiency windows and doors can save a lot of energy if installed properly. One key to maintaining their efficiency is sealing the edges where they meet the wall so cold air and moisture can’t enter the home. Pay close attention to the hidden joints where the window or door meets the wall framing, as well as the visible seams at the siding. Fill large, hidden gaps with liquid urethane foam in a can, or with tightly packed fiberglass. Install a bead of good quality caulk at the surface of each joint, and paint it to match. Now your new window or door will perform at its best.

If you plan to repaint or replace the exterior siding on your home, don’t miss the opportunity to add wall insulation. Many older homes have wall cavities that are uninsulated or only partially insulated, allowing rapid heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer. Wall insulation is one of the most cost-effective energy savers available. Loose-fill insulation can be installed in these wall cavities through holes that are drilled through the siding or sheeting underneath the siding. This requires specialized tools, so you should have a professional insulator do the job. Your new siding will cover the installation holes, saving the price of repair. If you’re only repainting, simply remove a piece of siding near the bottom of the wall and ask your insulation contractor to insulate the wall cavity using a fill tube as shown here.

Some types of siding can be installed over a layer of foam insulation that’s added between the old and new siding. This layer can be added with or without the new cavity insulation described above. 

Insulating walls with a fill tube is an excellent way to get the right coverage and density for maximum thermal resistance.

See Your Home Cooling Energy GuideThe Homeowners Handbook to Energy Efficiency, and Residential Energy for more information.