By: Bill Downs, Sales Representative – Architectural Products
During the 100 degree days in Kansas City this summer there was one sound that was very consistent, the hum of my air conditioner. My 2 story home built with traditional 2×4 framing was costing me about $20.00 per day to cool. I set my thermostat at 74 degrees but I had a large variance in temperatures. My basement would be in the mid to upper 60’s, the main floor would typically be around 74 – 76 degrees but the second floor would be 80 to 83.
I had a new heating and cooling unit installed in August 2010 so I know my system is good. At the same time I am told by a co-worker who built his home using structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) that his annual heating and cooling bill is not much more than my monthly one. Now, I know all the technical information about SIPs, I educate architects on it and sell it to contractors on a regular basis but REALLY! COULD THERE BE THAT MUCH DIFFERENCE!
According to ORNL Testing a 4-1/2” SIP’s Whole Wall R-Value = 13.9 compared to a 2×4 traditional frame construction of R-9.6. Compare a 4-1/2” SIP to a 2×6 framing system and SIPs still out performs its R-13.7. OK, so SIPs do have a higher whole wall R-value than traditional 2x framing but it also costs more than traditional framing material. In fact SIPs will cost up to 25% more in material than 2x framing.
What if you could make up the material costs elsewhere? Another great benefit about SIPs is that it helps you build faster. No, you don’t work faster. Your structure goes up faster because you eliminate the need for several trades that you would need for traditional framing, saving you 30 – 40% in labor. Add in the heating and cooling savings over the time that you are in your home or office and you will start to see that the benefits of SIPs far outweigh its initial cost.
To me SIPs means; unlimited design possibilities, superior strength, speed of installation and STATE OF THE ART ENERGY EFFICIENCY.