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Does Your Home's Color Affect the Temperature Inside?

Updated: March 2021

When choosing a paint color for the exterior of your home, you might want to consider more than just aesthetics. The paint color you use could mean the difference between your house absorbing or reflecting heat, making the temperature inside warmer or cooler. This will impact the cost of heating and cooling your home.

Home with brown.

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How Paint Color Impacts Home Energy

The color of your home is directly related to the amount of heat absorption. According to the Department of Energy's (DOE) Cooling Your Home Naturally report, dark, dull colors can absorb 70 to 90 percent of the sun's radiant energy, which can then be transferred into the home. In contrast, light-colored surfaces reflect the heat away from a home, keeping it cooler, says Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

If you're looking to reduce the amount of energy required to cool your home, painting your home a light color may be a good place to start. CNet.com conducted a basic experiment that illustrated the impact color has on heat absorption. They painted siding boards with white paint, then set them out on a sunny day. Their results showed that the white boards showed no measurable heat absorption. However, a brown stucco wall in the same conditions measured 25 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the white boards, according to CNet's experiment.

How Building Materials Affect Home Temperature

If you're building a new home and you want the building materials to improve the home's energy efficiency, you may want to consider the materials you use. Denser materials naturally soak up heat and hold it longer, slowing the interior warming process in the summer and the cooling process in the winter, according to Arizona Solar Center.

Brick or concrete walls may keep the interior cooler on a hot summer day than lightweight wall materials, says Smarter Homes. Brick and concrete can also help you stay warmer during the colder months.

However, Modernize.com notes that your home's siding is just one component of energy efficiency. It's important to combine more efficient cladding with quality housewrap and rigid foam insulation to ensure you're minimizing heat gain and loss in your home.

Other Energy-Saving Options for Your Home

In addition to choosing building materials or paint colors, there are other things you can do to make your home more energy efficient. DirectEnergy.com recommends the following:

  • Seal cracks, gaps, and leaks in your home.
  • Replace HVAC filters regularly.
  • Close window coverings during the heat of the day in summer and open them on sunny days in cooler weather.
  • Use natural light when possible to keep lights off and decrease the use of electricity.
  • Get a programmable thermostat.
  • Use ceiling fans.
  • Replace single-pane windows with a more energy-efficient variety – or add solar shades or tinting film to older windows.

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