Is Attic Radiant Barrier Worth it?

If you’ve spent time thinking about protecting your attic against the elements, you may have heard about “radiant barriers.” 

Many people are skeptical whether installing this reflective material is worth the cost. In some states, predatory contractors have been decried by government agencies for using misleading marketing about what radiant barriers can do.

So, is radiant barrier worth it? 

In San Diego and Orange County, absolutely. Radiant barriers work by reflecting the sun’s rays, making them ideal for bright, hot climates. When installed properly and in the right regional context, a radiant barrier will pay for itself…

Radiant Barriers Cut Down Cooling Costs

There’s no question that radiant barriers cut down on cooling costs during the hottest months. The Department of Energy has suggested that in sunny regions, installing radiant barriers reduces cooling costs by 5% to 10%. 

In the hottest areas, those energy savings can be even greater.

These energy savings benefits do not apply to the entirety of the United States, contributing to a discourse of whether radiant barriers are worth it. If you are debating this for yourself, consider these following questions:

  • Is my home in direct sunlight throughout most of the day?
  • Do I live in an area that reaches above 100°F for multiple weeks at a time?
  • Does my attic have ductwork or HVAC equipment installed in it?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, there is a good chance that your home will benefit from radiant barriers.

Direct Sunlight

If my house is in direct sunlight, shouldn’t reflective radiant barrier material be on the outside of it? As it turns out, it doesn’t need to be. Radiant heat moves through the surface of your roof deck to heat up your attic, entering your home and spiking cooling costs. 

Radiant barriers block the heat from coming in. 

Sunlight is one of the silent means that heat enters your home. Anyone who has opened the door to a vehicle and watched heat pour out knows that thanks to sunlight, enclosed spaces like cars can become small furnaces in the dog days of summer.

If your home receives direct sunlight throughout the day, especially if you don’t have any trees shading your roof deck, you should consider radiant barrier installation for cost reductions.

Hot Climates

If you’re in a region where it’s hot for most of the year, radiant barriers will provide year-round cooling cost reductions. If you experienced the brunt of the polar vortex in 2019, you may be better off with other types of insulation that are more cost effective for your region.

Some contractors in the industry were recently criticized by the Division of Energy Resources for installing radiant barriers when they were not necessary. While both can be used together effectively, as attic insulation increases, the effectiveness of radiant barriers decreases.

Radiant barriers aren’t snake oil—they work in the regions where you need them. You don’t need to bring a winter coat on a trip to the beach, and you don’t need radiant barriers in regions of the United States with a cold climate.

Ductwork/HVAC Equipment

Some homes, especially older ones, have ductwork running through the attic space. If you live in a home like this, radiant barriers will be particularly valuable for lowering cooling costs in the hotter months.

Attics that are not protected against the heat are going to put extra strain on air conditioning in the summer. As the attic space heats up, the ductwork heats up alongside it, and the machines pushing out the cold air into your home have to work twice as hard to produce the same level of climate control in your home.

When HVAC ducts aren’t insulated, cool air can escape from them and the need for a machine to turn on and off increases. This causes wear and tear on these machines, necessitating more maintenance and less effectiveness over time.

How You Can Lower Costs Even Further With Radiant Barriers

If you’ve been wondering “does radiant barrier work?” the answer is yes—radiant barriers will reduce your heating costs in the hottest months. The degree to which that will benefit you is regionally dependent, but if you live in San Diego or Orange County, there is a high likelihood that installing radiant barriers will slice your cooling bill. 

Benefits include:

  • Cooling costs reduced by at least 5%-10%
  • HVAC systems get less wear and tear over time
  • Smaller or more energy-efficient cooling can supplement existing systems while providing the same (or better) air conditioning than before

But why stop saving there? Hiring experts like Attic Construction can help ensure you get it installed right the first time, with professionalism that can’t be beat.

Contact us today and receive a free attic inspection appointment to see if radiant barriers are right for you. Our customers will receive a $300 discount off all radiant barrier installation services.


  1. Radiant Barriers.
  2. Minnesota Commerce Department. Building Envelope.
  3. Insulation Stop. Exterior HVAC Insulation.

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