Many homeowners install radiant barriers in their attics to reduce the radiant heat transfer to other parts of the building during the summer. As the sun’s radiant energy heats the rooftop, the heat slowly transfers to the inside of the attic through a process known as conduction.
As the sun’s energy heats the interior space in the roof, it causes the indoor temperature to rise, transferring the heat from the attic floor to the building below. This drives up energy consumption during the summer, leading to higher cooling costs.
To prevent heat buildup in the attic, homeowners invest in radiant barriers, which have a reflective surface that helps lower utility bills by up to 10% or even more. If you have problems with radiant barrier insulation it’s better to contact your local contractor and fix the issue before any further damage happens.
In this blog, we will debunk some myths about radiant barrier insulation. Keep reading until the end, as we will explore the reasons why radiant barrier can be a worthwhile investment.
Let’s get started!
Busting Radiant Barrier Myths
There are many myths about radiant barriers going around, which can affect a homeowner’s decision to install insulation in their attic.
Here are a couple of myths and the reality behind them:
Myth #1: Radiant Barrier Insulation Causes Damage To The Roof Shingles
Many homeowners have concerns about radiant barriers, and they believe that since the roof absorbs all of the heat, it can cause severe damage to the roofing material. Let’s understand how this type of insulation works before busting this myth.
The foil in the radiant barrier insulation reflects 95% of the heat from the sun back into the sky. It changes the direction of the heat flow rather than absorbing it.
Since the change in your roof’s temperatures is insignificant, radiant barriers cannot cause damage to the roofing material.
Myth #2: Radiant Barrier Insulation Causes Moisture Issues
Some homeowners believe that installing radiant barriers causes mildew and mold. It’s important to understand that moisture issues arise when warm air meets cool air.
Suppose a home is experiencing moisture problems prior to installing foil insulation. In that case, it’s crucial to address the issue by ensuring proper ventilation, repairing the HVAC system, and sealing the holes in the attic.
Myth #3: Only Newly Constructed Homes Can Have A Radiant Barrier Insulation
That’s not true. Contractors can retrofit radiant barriers in older homes. In fact, most of the homeowners who are investing in these types of insulation often have an existing residence.
Myth #4: Radiant Barrier Paint Provides The Same Effects As A Roll Insulation
According to the US Department of Energy, radiant barrier products must reflect 90% of the energy. Under these guidelines, radiant barrier paint is not the same as roll insulation, as it only reflects 75% of the heat.
Surprisingly, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not consider radiant barrier paint as insulation at all.
Myth #5: NASA Invented Radiant Barrier Insulation
There is a misconception that NASA invented radiant barrier insulation, and we’re not sure where people got that from. Perhaps it’s because the government agency has been using radiant barriers since the Apollo program.
In reality, German businessmen Schmidt and Dykerhoff filed patents for the reflective radiant barrier material in 1925.
Myth #6: Radiant Barrier Roof Is The Best Solution For Energy Efficiency
Although radiant barrier reduces heating and cooling costs by reflecting solar energy, they’re not the best solution for energy efficiency. Homeowners must use these as part of a cohesive building envelope.
Facts About Radiant Barrier Insulation
Here are a few facts about using radiant barrier for attic insulation:
Fact #1: Radiant Barriers Should Have An Emissivity of 0.1
The primary source of heat that affects the temperature in your attic is the radiation from the sun. Convection and conduction are two ways the hot air may move from the attic to the rest of the building.
Many radiant barriers use a combination of reflective materials (often aluminum foil) with plastic films, Kraft paper, and other materials to reduce heat gain.
However, the most effective type of insulation is a radiant barrier sheathing, which has an emissivity of 0.1 or less.
Fact #2: OSB Radiant Barrier Sheathing Helps Minimize Radiant Heat By Up To 30°F
OSB radiant barrier sheathing is an excellent type of insulation that reflects approximately 97% of the solar radiation, which can help reduce the heat by up to 30°F. This can result in energy savings all year round.
Since the insulation helps reduce temperatures, it can prolong the life of heating and cooling systems, as they don’t have to work longer cycles.
Fact #3: There Are Many Different Types Of Radiant Barriers
Before considering a radiant barrier installation inside the attic of your house, it’s essential to understand that this type of reflective insulation comes in several types.
The following are some of the most common types of radiant barriers you can install in your house:
- Single sided foil
- Foil-faced roofing sheathing material
- Double-sided foil with reinforcement
- Foil-faced insulation
- Multi-layered foil systems
The type of radiant barrier you should invest in depends on the installation location and the amount of heat and moisture it’s vulnerable to.
Fact #4: Radiant Barriers Help Reduce AC Requirements In Warmer Climates
In warmer climates, homeowners who have installed radiant barriers can reduce AC requirements by up to ½ a ton.
Fact #5: Radiant Barriers Are More Effective In Hot Climates
According to the US Department of Energy, insulation materials like radiant barriers are more effective in hotter climates than cool regions. These will reduce cooling costs by up to 10%.
Effectively Installing Radiant Barrier In Your House
To ensure that the radiant barriers work effectively, they require expert installation. The foil side of this type of insulation should face the attic.
It’s essential to make sure that you don’t block the duct ventilation, as dust could accumulate on the surface of the radiant barrier and reduce its effectiveness.
When installing a radiant barrier to ensure cooling during the warm season, you must follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
Space the sheathings at a minimum of 1/8″ at all joints. This allows the insulation to expand and contract with the changes in temperature and moisture conditions. Make sure that you adhere to the local building codes.
To remove the moisture buildup, make sure that your attic is properly ventilated before installing a radiant barrier. Check for spaces where the hot air can flow and seal them properly.
Once you’ve got the radiant barrier installed, ensure that the foil doesn’t come into contact with other materials, including the insulation.
Use baffles or leave ¾” of space to ensure sufficient air space when fitting the radiant barrier.
Final Thoughts – Is Radiant Barrier Worth It?
If you’re living in a warm climate and want to cut down on your cooling costs, it’s best to install a radiant barrier to prevent hot air from entering your home. There’s a few modern radiant barrier installation methods and it’s better to choose one based on your climate and budget.
By transferring heat and cutting down on HVAC systems due to its reflective surface, a radiant barrier can reduce utility bills, providing energy savings for homeowners.
A radiant barrier will also improve the value of your home, making it attractive for potential buyers or investors.