How Insulating Your Attic with a Radiant Barrier Can Protect Your Home
More so than ever before, homeowners are looking for ways to save money and protect their biggest investment – their home. The attic, traditionally, is a location where energy easily migrates out of the house, heat is lost in the winter and cooling from air conditioning dissipates during the summer. While most people don’t consider the attic essential – until they want to unearth holiday decorations – it’s imperative that the attic is sealed properly to both eliminate energy dissipation and block excessive radiant heat absorption.
What is Radiant Heat?
Radiant heat is a form of energy that is transferred through space via electromagnetic waves. Unlike conductive heat transfer, which occurs when two objects are in direct contact, radiant heat can travel through a vacuum, such as the vacuum of space.
Radiant heat is an important factor in the transfer of heat in buildings. For example, when sunlight strikes the roof of a home, the roof becomes heated, and this heat is then transferred to the attic space via radiant heat. The heat can then radiate through the attic insulation and into the living space below, causing the home to become uncomfortably warm. By reducing the transfer of radiant heat, such as through the use of radiant barriers, it is possible to reduce energy costs and improve the comfort of your living spaces.
Does Radiant Barrier Insulation Really Work?
Radiant barrier insulation can be an effective way to reduce heat transfer by radiation, which is one of the primary ways that heat moves in and out of buildings. Radiant barriers work by reflecting radiant heat back toward its source (such as the sun), rather than allowing it to be absorbed by the insulation and transferred through to the interior.
Studies have shown that radiant barriers can reduce heat gain in attics by up to 50% in hot climates, which can lead to lower cooling costs and more comfortable living conditions. However, it’s important to note that while radiant barriers can be a useful component of an overall insulation system, they are not a standalone solution and should be used in conjunction with other types of insulation to provide comprehensive thermal protection.
Is the Radiant Barrier Installation Process Complicated?
The radiant barrier installation process can vary depending on the specific product being used and the conditions of the space where it will be installed. The expert installers at Attic Construction take great care in measuring the space, installing the radiant barrier, and sealing gaps.
When installing a radiant barrier in an attic, our experts also consider the location of the roof rafters. Radiant barriers are typically installed on the underside of the roof, which means that they will be in close proximity to the roof rafters. If this is the case, our experts ensure that there is still enough space for air to circulate between the barrier and the roof sheathing.
Is a Radiant Barrier Better than Attic Floor Insulation?
Radiant barrier insulation and traditional insulation serve different purposes in reducing heat transfer in buildings. Radiant barriers work as a reflective insulation by reflecting radiant heat back toward its source, while traditional insulation works by slowing down the transfer of heat through conduction and convection. Both types of insulation can be effective in reducing energy consumption and improving comfort in homes, but they are not necessarily interchangeable and are often used together to achieve optimal results.
Radiant barriers are particularly effective in hot and sunny climates like the Southwest where the majority of heat gain occurs through radiation. In these situations, a radiant barrier can be placed on the underside of the roof or in the attic to reflect the sun’s radiant energy back out of the house, reducing the amount of heat that is absorbed by the attic and transferred into the actual living space.
Do I Need Insulation if I Have a Radiant Barrier?
Yes, you still need attic floor insulation even if you have a radiant barrier. While a radiant barrier can be effective at reducing heat gain through radiation, it doesn’t provide any insulation against conductive or convective heat transfer.
Insulation works by slowing down the transfer of heat through conduction and convection, which are the other two primary methods of heat transfer besides radiation. When insulation is installed in walls, floors, and ceilings, it creates a barrier that helps to prevent heat from moving in or out of the home, making heat ducts more efficient.
Without insulation, heat can still be conducted through walls and ceilings or convected through gaps or cracks in the building. This can lead to energy waste, uncomfortable indoor temperatures, and increased utility bills.
While a radiant barrier installation is a useful element in an overall insulation system, it’s also important to have traditional attic floor insulation in place to provide comprehensive thermal protection. These two types of insulation save money by working together to create a barrier against all three types of heat transfer, providing maximum energy efficiency and comfort.
Does a Radiant Barrier Help in the Winter?
A radiant barrier is designed to reflect radiant heat and can be helpful in reducing heat gain during the summer months. However, during the winter, the primary concern is usually keeping heat inside the building, rather than keeping it out. While a radiant barrier may still be able to reflect some of the radiant heat produced by heaters or furnaces back into the living space, its effectiveness in this regard is generally limited.
During the winter, traditional insulation is typically the most effective way to keep heat inside a building. Insulation works by slowing down the transfer of heat through conduction and convection, which are the primary methods of heat transfer during the winter. By creating a barrier that helps to prevent heat from escaping, insulation can help to reduce energy waste, improve comfort, and save money with lower utility bills.
How Long Do Radiant Barriers Last?
Radiant barriers made from high-quality materials like aluminum foil or metallized film are generally more durable and longer-lasting than those made from lower-quality materials. Proper installation is also fundamental in ensuring the longevity of a radiant barrier.
The lifespan of a radiant barrier depends on several factors including the quality of the material, the installation method, and the conditions it is exposed to. In general, a well-installed and high-quality radiant barrier can be expected to last for decades, possibly even outlasting the building it is installed in.
The conditions the radiant barrier is exposed to can also affect its lifespan. Exposure to extreme temperatures, humidity or moisture can cause the material to degrade over time. Also, exposure to UV radiation from the sun can cause some types of radiant barrier materials to eventually break down.
Regular inspection and maintenance can help ensure that the barrier is still functioning properly and to identify any issues before they become more serious.
If you are looking to save money and improve energy efficiency by installing radiant barrier insulating in your home, contact the experts at Attic Construction. We’ve been providing families in the American Southwest with highly-experienced, professional installations for over a decade.
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Written By Joseph Sheiner
Joseph Sheiner is a construction industry professional with over 15 years of experience. He began his career in the insulation industry in 2012, and co-founded Attic Construction Inc in 2013. As CEO of the company, Joe oversees all operations and is in charge of training and product knowledge.
Under Joe’s leadership, Attic Construction has become the largest leading Attic Restoration Company in San Diego, Orange County and Phoenix. He has personally performed and supervised insulation work in over 7000 homes. He is certified by Owens Corning as a CEE (Certified Energy Expert) and is a licensed contractor by the CSLB.
Most recently, Joe has helped expand Attic Construction to two additional locations – Orange County and Phoenix. He is currently working on expanding to additional locations in the near future.
Great work! Our attic went from totally disgusting to pristine. They are courteous and professional and clean up after themselves.
-Karen L. Santee, CA
Andrew was very informative and helpful during the whole process. Excellent communication and his team did a great job. He came on Sunday and the work was done and completed by Tuesday. Highly recommend to anyone who is looking for a fair prices and great service.
– Joey E. San Diego, CA