NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

September 17, 2013

Roofing, siding projects are prime opportunities for saving energy

Energy Tips
Tim Gould

---- — Now that we’re at the end of summer fun, many homeowners turn their attention to projects that need to be completed before winter. Some homeowners plan on reroofing or re-siding their homes. These are substantial projects that may present one-time opportunities to significantly impact comfort and substantially reduce energy costs, while increasing the durability and value of the homes.

As state building energy codes become more rigorous and carbon reduction goals are implemented to avoid climate change, we’ll see significant changes in residential new construction and renovation. Many changes have already happened, and for certain energy-saving home improvements, such as air sealing and insulation, state government and local utilities offer incentives to homeowners. These are compelling reasons to take a serious look at including additional insulation to save energy and hopefully stay ahead of future energy code requirements if you are already planning a new roof or siding project.

So, how do you proceed in a mindful, energy-saving way, reducing carbon and saving money? Unfortunately, adding insulation is not on the mind of most roofing or siding contractors. They will want to do their respective jobs in the traditional way. Siding contractors typically use standard 3/8-inch foam under the siding, and roofers add no insulation whatsoever. If you want to add insulation, as the customer, you will have to demand it; you’ll have to find a contractor who is willing and has the knowledge to do the extra work effectively. This may be a two-step process, hiring both an insulation contractor in conjunction with a siding or roofing company.

There are many ways to add insulation, which not only adds R-value (the measure of conductive heat transfer), but also manages air-movement and moisture through the roofing or siding project, as well as the whole house. Rigid foam board and/or spray foam are oft-used insulating materials that can be incorporated into siding and roofing jobs. If the insulation is installed on the exterior of sheathing, which is a common approach, it must be thick enough to prevent moisture from condensing on the inside of the wall or roof. Roof eaves and wall top-plate transition areas can be challenging and require extra attention to detail.

Yes, there will be an additional cost to adding insulation, but a simple payback can be estimated on an individual basis. Additionally, one should consider this particular home improvement as an investment in increased comfort, building durability, and home value, as well as a hedge against rising fuel prices over time. You don’t get all that from a new living room set or an entertainment center.

In summary, if you are already planning on re-siding or putting on a new roof and you are interested in being more comfortable, saving energy and increasing your home’s value, you should take a look at adding more insulation. Please note: Given that the overall air-tightness of the house may be dramatically changed after roofing or siding, a simple blower-door test and a ventilation inspection should be conducted to insure occupant health and safety.

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Tim Gould is the director of Informed Energy Solutions, Inc., located in Amesbury, and on the web at www.InformedNRG.com. Contact him at 978-388-6349 or by email at tgould@informednrg.com.