How Exterior Paint Color Affects Energy Usage

In spring, many homeowners start thinking about painting their homes. However, most have never considered how exterior paint color affects energy usage. If you’re among the thousands planning to paint, here are some interesting facts about energy impacts.

How Exterior Paint Color Affects Energy Usage

Dark versus light

We all know that wearing a dark shirt on a warm day can cause us to overheat, but did you know this same fact is true with homes? A dark color of paint will absorb more light, which in turn absorbs more heat. If you are drawn to dark shades such as black, dark blue or green, these elegant colors will benefit you most during the fall, winter and spring months when they warm the house with natural sunlight.

On the flip side, lighter tones absorb less sunlight, which means less heat absorption and cooler indoor temperatures. If your home is in a warm climate, painting with white, beige, tan and other cool tones will assist in keeping the house slightly cooler.

How Exterior Paint Color Affects Energy Usage

Energy efficient paint

There is a growing number of “green” energy-efficient paints which offer less toxicity to the environment, while also maximizing the energy efficiency in the home.

These specialized paints are made to absorb heat or reflect heat. The way they do this is through their permeability. A home paint designed to cool a house is semi-permeable allowing the paint to interact with moisture in a way to cool the home. On the reverse, a paint meant to warm the home will be waterproof, allowing the heat to be retained within the home.

Two-toned paintHow Exterior Paint Color Affects Energy Usage

If you’re considering more than one paint color, there are ways to use the different tones to work in your favor. As the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, using a warm, darker tone on the east and west side will allow for maximum heat absorption. Using a supplemental paint color to compliment these darker tones could then be applied to the north and south side walls.

To maximize the cooling factor of the exterior paint color, painting a white or other light tone on the east and west facing exterior walls would keep the house coolest.

How Exterior Paint Color Affects Energy Usage


Whether you choose a light or dark exterior paint color, the beauty of landscaping adds a lot of character to the color choice. Using your landscaping to provide cooling shade can also be effective for creating a cooling cover for an east or west wall. Before removing mature trees or landscaping, keep in mind the energy benefits these natural beauties provide.

For more information on ways to save energy in your home, contact us at Pilchuck Heating.