One of the perks of being a homeowner is getting to picking out paint colors However, it may be more complicated than simply selecting colors that catch your eye, especially if your eye is drawn to dark, deep colors.
It may be thrilling to think about letting your inner angsty teenager to paint your bedroom walls solid black, but there is a reason your mom never turned the teenage you lose with a paint roller. The colors you choose for your home’s interior and exterior can have a serious impact on your heating and cooling bills.
How Colors Affect Heating and Cooling
Some colors absorb radiant energy, while others reflect it. When the sun hits a dark surface, like a black bedroom wall or a deep brown home exterior, some of the sun’s energy is absorbed. The absorbed energy is transferred into the home through conduction. The result is ambient heat gain.
Black and other dark colors absorb 70 to 90 percent of the radiant energy. In contrast, light colored surfaces, including whites, beige, and pastels, reflect most of the heat away from the surface. This reduces the amount of heat transferred into your home.
Keeping it Cool with Dark Paint
If your goal is to reduce summer cooling costs, the decision is an easy one. Pick light paint colors for both your home’s interior and exterior surfaces. However, if you just don’t like light colors, there are ways you still enjoy the darker side of the color spectrum without increasing your energy bill.
If dark colors speak to you, consider using them on the walls of an interior room with few windows. In this case, the color choice may make no difference since the room will have limited sun exposure.
Also, choose your window treatments wisely. Heavy curtains or drapes that cover the entire window will do the best job of blocking radiant heat. If you choose dark colored window treatments to match the room’s walls, make sure the window-facing side is a lighter color. This will help reflect light away from the room and minimize heat absorption.
If your heart’s desire is a dark color on your home’s exterior, consider using the power of sade trees to keep energy costs in check. Well-placed deciduous trees like oak, elm, and maple will provide a leafy shaded canopy in the bright summer months. This will help reduce the amount of sunlight that hits your home’s exterior surface.
In the fall, these trees shed their leaves allowing your home to be exposed to more warm sunlight. This is a way to passively heat your home and could potentially save you on heating costs.
Consider the Accents
If you are concerned about dark paint colors increasing heat transfer, there are other options. You can still enjoy dark colors as a contrasting accent.
Dark colors make a bold statement as accents in rooms with lighter colored walls. Building elements like door and window frames can be striking when painted a dark color to contrast the lighter color of their surroundings.
An accent wall painted a single bold color also makes a bold design element. Choose a wall that doesn’t face any windows to reduce the amount of heat the dark wall absorbs.
Check Your Paint’s LRV
Before deciding on a new color for your home, be sure to check the paint’s Light Reflectance Value, or LRV. LRV is measured on a scale that ranges from zero to 100 percent. Measuring the percentage of light a paint color reflects, the higher the LRV the more light it reflects.
Darker colors have a low LRV and lighter colors, like white, have the highest. To save on cooling costs, be sure to choose a paint with a high LRV.
Most household paints have the color’s LRV printed on the swatch cards or pint cans. This makes it easy to know how much radiant heat will be absorbed or reflected with any specific color.
Check with the Professionals
Your local HVAC professionals aren’t likely to help you with painting or other home remodeling tasks. However, if you have large remodeling plans in mind, it is always a good idea to check with the experts to determine the impact your renovations may have on your HVAC system’s efficiency and effectiveness.