Does the Color of Your House Affect Your Comfort?

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Does the Color of Your House Affect Your Comfort

Written by Bob Bird, Bird Family Insulation

Here in my neighborhood, I enjoy walking Savannah’s monster-sized (115 pound) German Shepherd for our exercise. His size is massive, his color is solid black, and because we live on the most popular corner in the neighborhood, he’s very well known. When we’re walking, I think everyone waves more at “Bear” than they wave to me!

Yesterday evening, in our usual walk, I noticed a neighbor having the exterior of his house repaired and ready for paint. On my return trip through the neighborhood, the painter had started spraying the house, and my heart sank as I saw the color.

She’s about to learn a lesson in building science

The house had been painted yellow. I know what you’re thinking… a yellow house? UGH! It’s been yellow for many years – as long as I can recall. A big, two-story yellow house. But it was actually pretty.

Now they are painting it gray.

Gray is a popular color for houses in our area. In fact, I’m staring at one out my office window as I type this article.

My neighbor is in for a BIG SURPRISE this summer.

And it may not make her happy.

This gray house will absorb more heat than when it was painted yellow. Gray is darker than yellow. And her color of gray is a dark gray. Bad news.

Darker colors absorb more heat than lighter colors.

Lighter colors reflect more heat than darker colors.

Her AC system will need to work harder to maintain the cool temperatures that she’s been used to in previous summers. And I hope her system is up for the heavy lifting… especially cooling the rooms on the 2nd floor.

Dark exterior walls, and dark shingles on the roof spell warmer conditions that the insulation and HVAC must overcome.

As Bear and I stood in the street watching the sprayer apply the paint, I noted that the windows were still the original, 1970s single pane, double sash units. Too bad.

I did it too!

About 7 years ago, I hired a painter to paint our home.

He was a husband & wife team. And they were very good at their craft.

She talked Debbie into changing our color from a beige-cream color (with light blue trim), to light brown with dark brown trim.

They got started, and finished up around spring. As summer started heating up, we all noticed how the house wasn’t getting as comfortable as it had been. I tested the temperature of the airflow coming from our vents, and it was nice and cold.

But my house wasn’t nice and cool!

It took a while to figure this out – although I knew about the effect of surface colors and heat. I was just slow to get the realization about my own house!

As soon as I explained our problem to Deb, we decided to repaint the house and return to our original color, and keep the brown trim.

It was a painful financial lesson to learn. My house was repainted within weeks of having it first painted!

But guess what the effect was on the comfort levels inside our home?

The beige-cream color exterior rewarded us with nice, cool living inside my home, once again

Comfort Hell in their RV

I have family members who own a really large, beautiful, modern RV. They love to park it in south-central FL and enjoy the winters there.

However, the RV has big, dark graphics all over the exterior. The entire front and rear areas are solid brown. The colors are modern and truly cool to look at. Really catchy graphics!

However, inside the RV, it’s a completely different story.

The roof mounted AC runs and runs all day and cannot keep the RV comfortable for this couple.

They have resorted to adding one of those portable AC units on wheels, with the hot-air exhaust hose taped to the rear window.

Now they are comfortable, but the noise is annoying from that AC unit sitting in the room.

Exterior colors play a big part in the comfort inside your home, car, RV, etc.

Living here in the deep south, it’s important to keep this in mind!

Thanks for reading.
– Bob Bird

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