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Saving Energy With a Radiant Barrier

A radiant barrier is installed on the inside or outside of a home’s attic to reduce the amount of heat that can accumulate there during warm summer months, decrease the amount of work an air conditioning system must do to keep a home cool, and reduce monthly electric bills.

Types of Radiant Barriers

There are several different types of radiant barriers, including reflective foils, reflective laminated roof sheathing, reflective metal roof shingles, and reflective chips that are applied over loose-fill insulation. Reflective materials are usually aluminum and are applied to one or both sides of a variety of substrate materials, including plastic films, kraft paper, cardboard, oriented strand board, and air infiltration barrier material.

How Radiant Barriers Save Energy

Radiant barriers work by reflecting most of the sun’s heat energy away from a roof so that the roof retransmits the sun’s heat energy and radiates it back outside the attic. Most radiant barriers reflect from 95 percent to 97 percent of the sun’s heat.

It’s more effective to install a radiant barrier in a hot climate since cooling air ducts are located in the attic. Studies show that radiant barriers can lower cooling costs by 5 percent to 10 percent when installed in homes in warm, sunny climates, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. In cool climates, the Energy Department recommends that homeowners install extra insulation rather than a radiant barrier.

(Source: Energy Savers website, Radiant Barriers.)

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