Radiant barriers are an insulation system installed in homes, usually in attics, primarily to block the transfer of radiant heat hence reducing summer heat gain and helping homeowners to save money on utility bills. Radiant barriers can also be referred to as reflective insulation, attic heat shield or attic foil.
Save money with radiant barriers
In simple terms, radiant barriers are made of highly reflective material-usually aluminum- and they play a big role in saving money on utility bills. Shiny barriers work in the same way as those shiny shields used in homes to provide protection from the damaging effects of sunlight. Not only are radiant barriers helpful during summertime, they are also functional during winter. Being reflective in nature, radiant barriers reflect radiant heat back to the direction from which it came from rather than absorbing it. As a result, heat transfer is lowered and the attic space is kept cooler. During the winter, radiant barriers will work to prevent heat loss. These barriers do so by simply reflecting heat towards the interior, keeping the home warmer and keeping the heating costs low. When radiant barriers are properly installed in the cold months, they keep the inside temperatures warm and the cold out. Radiant barriers are very effective especially in warm climates. Furthermore, radiant barriers save more energy in warmer climates since air conditioning is operated more often in such climates. In a hot, dry climate, radiant barriers can cut the cost of cooling as much as 17%.
Note: Radiant barriers cannot be a substitute.
The fact that attic foils are also known as radiant barrier insulation can easily confuse many people to thinking that it is what makes up an entire attic. No it isn’t. In spite of the fact that a radiant barrier works to slow down the movement of heat by reflecting the radiant energy of the sun., it is important to note that these barriers do not work in isolation but rather with other insulation systems. It cannot be used as a substitute for something else. Sealed ceilings tend to slow the process of convective heat and on the other hand insulation slows the process of convective heat loss.
What are the different types of radiant barriers?
There are various types of radiant barriers in the market. The most effective type of radiant barrier is a plastic sheet that consists of a reflective foil either on one side or on both sides. This kind of barrier is normally attached on the bottom edges of the rafters in the attic with the use of a staple.
There are also designs that feature rigid foam and fiberglass batt insulation as well as radiant barrier material on the faces. These designs serve to provide insulation and at the same time provide a heat reflecting barrier. Other radiant barriers are fitted with material that resembles bubble-wrap on both sides. Just like standard plastic sheet material, they can be fastened with staples. For homeowners who may want to keep their attic floor open for storage, rigid insulation combined with a radiant barrier and air sealing can be a great option.