Old houses are charming. Until they aren’t. Then they can become very costly.
Hilary Farr, host of “Love It or List It,” woefully discovered this with her own recently purchased home that had to be demolished and rebuilt from the foundation up.
Starting over opened the door for improved materials.
“I love brick for its beauty and energy efficiency, and by adding the radiant barrier system I could be sure it would pay for itself over time.” – Hilary Farr
Her new home on the old foundation is an innovative modern design using Pine Hall Brick, chosen partly for its energy efficiency.
The Brick Industry Association says, “In ‘hotbox’ research conducted by the National Brick Research Center at Clemson University*, the brick wall system outperformed the other cladding systems by reducing heat gain in the summer months and heat loss in the winter months by approximately 50%”.
But you can take this further.
Farr decided for even greater heating and cooling efficiency when she installed radiant barrier house wrap before her Barker House brick walls were laid.
“One of the upsides of rebuilding was having the latest innovations for greater energy savings,” said Farr. “I love brick for its beauty and energy efficiency, and by adding the radiant barrier system I could be sure it would pay for itself over time.”
The shiny radiant barrier when used in a brick wall system greatly improves heating and cooling efficiency of the wall by as much as 26 percent over traditional siding systems such as fiber cement or vinyl siding, according to studies by Clemson University**. In Farr’s new neighborhood, on a southern facing wall, that goes up to 32 percent.
Radiant barrier is applied to the house’s exterior walls replacing traditional house wrap for only pennies more per sq. ft. Farr also used radiant barrier lined roof sheathing in the attic (see above) for more efficiency as well as using spray foam insulation on the inside walls.
After the house is wrapped, brick is laid with a one-inch air space (shown above) to the radiant barrier, which is key to making the system work. Traditional siding systems typically don’t feature an air space. The air space also facilitates water drainage as testing by the National Association of Home Builders** verifies that a brick veneer wall system is drier than traditional wall systems.
Farr’s purchase, demolition and rebuild was costly. But her newly designed Barker House brick home will cost much less for ownership in the long run with lower heating and cooling bills.
Brick has always provided long term value with its strength, durability, ease of maintenance, and innate insulating qualities. Adding a radiant barrier house wrap makes it all even better.
*- National Brick Research Center, Clemson University, Nate Huygen, Ph.D and John Sanders, Ph.D 2020