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Choosing Between ICE Panels and Wood Framing: A Comprehensive Cost Analysis

When it comes to constructing your dream home, making the right choice in the building envelope can have a significant impact on both your initial investment and long-term operating costs. In 2021, we conducted an extensive cost comparison for a 1,700 sqft bungalow with a spacious attached garage. The objective was to determine the financial implications of using either ICE Panels or traditional wood framing for this specific project.

The Initial Cost: ICE Panels vs. Wood Framing

For this example project, the 7.5” ICE panel package designed for the main floor, exterior walls, and exterior garage walls was estimated to cost approximately $49,000. On the other hand, opting for a wood frame building envelope would present a substantial cost advantage, with a price tag nearly 33% lower, equating to an approximate saving of $16,000. It’s an enticing initial cost-saving option.

However, it’s important to recognize the trade-off involved. Wood-framed walls, constructed with 2×6 studs at 16-inch intervals, have a relatively reduced insulation value, measuring at an Effective R-16 (+/-). In contrast, ICE Panel walls deliver a significantly higher Effective R-value of 29 for this specific home. This difference in insulation value should be factored into the equation when considering long-term operating costs.

Long-Term Benefits of ICE Panels

While the initial savings with wood framing seem appealing, it’s crucial to consider the long-term implications. ICE Panels, with their Effective R-value of 29, provide a remarkable 81% more effective insulation value than traditional wood-framed walls in this context. This superior insulation equates to substantial energy savings and improved comfort within the home.

For further perspective, homes constructed with ICE Panels receive impressive EnerGuide ratings. In the case of this home, the EnerGuide rating is an outstanding 75 GJ/year. To put this into context, a typical new home averages around 136 GJ/year. In practical terms, this means that a home built with ICE Panels consumes 45-55% less energy compared to a standard new build, significantly reducing your environmental footprint and energy bills over time.

EnerGuide Label for a Vleeming Custom Home built with ICE Panels

Disclaimer: The values provided are based on the information available at the time of this publication and pertain specifically to the project compared during that period.

Choosing between ICE Panels and wood framing is not just about the upfront costs; it’s a decision that influences your long-term comfort, energy efficiency, and environmental impact. By opting for ICE Panels, you not only invest in a more comfortable and eco-friendly home but also benefit from substantial energy savings over the life of your residence.

Published October 6, 2022. Revised October 25, 2023.

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