Q: I’m looking for eco friendly home improvement tips, especially for my exterior. What are my best options?

A: While natural exterior elements such as wood or stone are beautiful, they can also come with a lot of maintenance and high repair costs if they become damaged. Luckily, there are many eco friendly home improvement options you can use to enhance your curb appeal. Vinyl is one of the top options for eco friendly remodeling, including siding and windows.

With both windows and siding, be sure to choose products that are made with 100% virgin vinyl. These products are more durable than recycled vinyl products.

Types of House Siding for Eco Friendly Homeowners:

Home improvement tip graphic showing eco friendly siding

Vinyl is a safe choice for the environment because its ingredients are natural. According to Vinyl Siding Institute, it is made of ingredients including 57% chlorine from common salt and 43% ethylene from natural gas.

Vinyl siding installation can help improve the appearance of the home while saving energy dollars. However, according to House Logic, it’s also one of the best exterior siding options in terms of sustainability.

How Does Vinyl Siding Installation Impact the Environment?

This depends on the energy efficiency ratings of the vinyl siding. Energy-efficient foam backed vinyl siding can lower utility bills, which results in using less energy to heat and cool the home.

For example, standalone vinyl panels likely will not impact energy savings very much. This isn’t the best approach for reducing heat transfer or blocking cold or warm airflow between the panels and the exterior. Traditional vinyl siding may also rattle in the wind and even appear wavy.

The best eco friendly remodeling option for home siding is using insulated foam backed vinyl siding with housewrap. Housewrap is a thin membrane that protects the home from losing heat, in some cases it can insulate down to the wood studs of the home. Wood studs are poor insulators on their own and can easily allow heat to pass through them.

While housewrap can help reduce energy consumption, foam-backed insulated siding is the key to enhancing energy savings in the home. This insulation is designed to block air circulation that can affect indoor comfort levels of the home. It increases the R-Value of the product, provides sound control properties, and keeps utility bills low.

Other Ways That Vinyl Siding is Eco Friendly

Aside from saving energy, vinyl exterior also is environmentally friendly as it is a green building material. Throughout the process of manufacturing, transportation, installation, service life, and waste management, it beats fiber cement (Hardie Board) and brick while rivaling cedar siding.

Home improvement tips chart showing how vinyl siding compares to other options in terms of important environmental criteria

This chart supplied by Vinyl Siding Institute shows how vinyl siding compares to other options in terms of important environmental criteria. Compared to other types of house siding, it uses small amounts of energy for manufacturing and it requires less water to engineer—especially when compared to fiber cement.

Vinyl also emits very few toxic chemicals. For example, stucco and fiber cement emit considerable amounts of mercury during the manufacturing process.

Furthermore, fiber cement contains silica, it which is a cancer-causing agent. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, dust from fiber cement siding is linked to lung cancer.

What About Vinyl Windows?

Home improvement tips image showing eco friendly vinyl windows

Similarly to vinyl siding, vinyl window replacement is also one of the top eco friendly home improvement tips. According to the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, over 1 billion pounds of vinyl scraps have been recycled in just one year. Furthermore, there are vinyl window scrap buy-back programs that will take old vinyl windows and recycle them. This act has led to more than 8 million pounds of vinyl window waste from entering the landmines.

Home windows are one of the most environmentally-friendly products on the market. This is especially the case with windows that are certified by Energy Star, which means they use technologies such as argon and krypton gas to increase thermal efficiency. Low-e is applied to the glass to reduce heat transfer that’s catered to our climate zone. It also reflects infrared light that keeps the home comfortable in extreme heat or cold.

Eco Friendly Front Doors

Home improvement tips image showing eco friendly exterior sliding door

Vinyl isn’t the only material that’s ideal for an eco friendly home improvement tips. Fiberglass doors are another sustainable choice. Fiberglass typically does not require added materials for reinforcement, which reduces its weight and transportation cost. Its thermal expansion allows it to seal out the elements and help keep the home more energy efficient.

Fiberglass is also an ideal alternative to traditional wood entry doors. Wood doors use precious natural resources and require transportation. If you order a wood door that’s harvested from the forests of Oregon, this requires a lot of energy before the door even enters the manufacturing process.

Lastly, fiberglass has a long life cycle that keeps it out of the landfill. It is not prone to rotting, peeling, or denting, which reduces the need to use paint or wood stain.

Find Eco Friendly Exterior Remodeling Choices & Home Improvement Tips at Coastal Windows & Exteriors

Coastal Windows & Exteriors offers replacement windows, siding, roofing and exterior door replacements in MA as well as southern New Hampshire. Our products are energy efficient, environmentally friendly, and custom made for your home. Contact us today with questions for additional home improvement tips or a quote at svanderbilt@mycoastalwindows.com or call 978-304-0495.