Ask the Expert: How does paint color affect energy use?
Q: Please repeat what you
wrote a while ago about the best colors to paint walls in
a hot climate. I remember seeing something in one of your
columns but don't remember the details.
A: Very simply, the lighter the color, the better the
wall will reflect the sun's heat. The home will stay more
comfortable and air-conditioning usage will be kept to a minimum
if the heat is kept outdoors.
According to researchers, the best wall color and material to reflect the sun is white paint on plywood, which absorbs only about 15 per cent of the sunâs heat. Following this choice is white on wood siding, white stucco, cream color and white/gray aluminum siding. Going down the list of the worst colors in decreasing effectiveness are light gray, medium gray/blue, and tan/brown (which absorbs about 80 per cent of the heat).
The best colors for brick homes are light colors, too, as burnt red bricks absorb the most sun.
I need to include my usual caution here. If you don't like
a light color for your home, don't paint it that color. Go
out and do other things to offset the negative effects of
the color. Plant trees to give the home shade. Install a solar
water heater. Buy energy-efficient light bulbs. Install a
radiant barrier or more insulation in your attic.
Making a home energy-efficient does not mean sacrificing or changing the appearance of the home from what you like. There are many options to save energy and money, and varying their use to meet your needs is acceptable.
From the editor: Alliance to Save Energy offers further easy, money-saving tips with their Home Energy Check Up program.
Energy Guide also provides information by zip code, so even if you live in a colder climate, you'll find some ideas for your home.
Editor's Note: Ken Sheinkopf is Associate Director of the Florida Solar Energy Center. Write to him at 1679 Clearlake Road, Cocoa, FL 32922, or e-mail Sheinkopf@fsec.ucf.edu
Mr. Sheinkopf cannot answer every question personally. Check back here at www.crest.org to see if he's already answered your question.
REPP-CREST does not endorse products and this is not to serve as a scientific or comprehensive analysis of any product.