Radiant barrier insulation installation takes place usually in attics, primarily to reduce summer heat gain and reduce cooling costs. The barriers consist of a highly reflective material that reflects radiant heat rather than absorbing it. Heat travels by conduction through the roofing materials to the attic side of the roof. The hot roof material then radiates its gained heat energy onto the cooler attic surfaces, including the air ducts and the attic floor. A radiant barrier reduces the radiant heat transfer from the underside of the roof to the other surfaces in the attic.
What Is Radiant Barrier Insulation?
A highly reflective material (like aluminum foil) is used to reflect heat rather than absorb it. This reflective material is applied to sides of a medium such as cardboard, strand board, or plastic films. Radiant barriers are combined with other insulation products to increase home performance and efficiency of existing or new insulation systems.
Most homeowners never think to check their attic when thinking about insulation and home energy efficiency. In reality, this may be one of the leading causes of decreases in home performance and discomfort. Statistically, attics are the largest source of energy loss.
About Radiant Barriers
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, residential radiant barriers help homeowners lower air conditioning costs and lessen the impact of summer heat.
To create a radiant barrier, pros install metal foil over the rafters in an attic and reflect the sun’s heat away from the home. This is most effective when coupled with reflective insulation. To maximize cooling efficiency, the system must include an air gap between the reflective surface and the interior of the roof.
Radiant Barrier vs. Reflective Insulation
Reflective insulation is insulating material (like batt and roll insulation) that has at least one reflective surface. Radiant barriers do not have insulating material attached, but you can install them over new or existing insulation to maximize the efficiency of both materials.
Do radiant barriers really work?
Yes. Radiant barriers are an energy efficient upgrade that can save you as much as 10 percent on their heating bills.
Is radiant barrier better than insulation?
Radiant barriers can keep your home cool more effectively than insulation in some cases. Although it usually works best when coupled with normal insulation.
Can you put radiant barrier over insulation?
Yes, you can install radiant barrier over new or existing insulation. In fact, this often improves its efficiency.
Can radiant barrier cause mold?
Radiant barrier insulation can cause mold if it is not installed correctly. A pro will be able to prevent this problem with proper installation. A local mold remediation specialist can help fix any issues if mold has already formed.
What is the R-value of radiant barrier?
Radiant barrier has no R-value on its own. This rating system is exclusive to materials that slow conductive heat — like bat and roll or blown-in insulation. Radiant barrier can work in tandem with other insulating materials and increase their effectiveness.
Air ducts get damaged from a number of factors such as age, poor design, and rodent damage.
Damaged duct work or air duct leaks affect the indoor environment in two main ways:
Cold air is lost before it effectively cools the indoor space. This makes your HVAC system work harder, using more energy and driving your utility bills up.