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Home Improvement

Radiant Barriers Cut Heating Bills
By Dan Walter

With heating cost skyrocketing, energy efficiency is becoming an ever increasing concern. Anything you can do to cut heat loss from your home will help reduce the amount of heat required and lower those bills. Adding fiberglass insulation and sealing air leakage are some of the most common strategies for increasing home efficiency. Not to be overlooked, radiant barriers are gaining popularity in the north.

Radiant Barriers have been promoted for over 20 years in the south as a way to lower cooling bills in the summer. In reality they can work just as well at keeping heat in during the winter months.

A radiant barrier works on two principles: reflectivity and emissivity. First, the aluminum is reflective on the hot side which reflects some of the heat back to where it came. Second, and most importantly, aluminum has a low emissivity value of between 0.03 and 0.05. This means that only 3% to 5% of the heat is emitted to the air on the cold side. In order to benefit from both of these properties, the radiant barrier must be double sided (aluminum on both sides) and installed so that there is an air space or low density material, like insulation, on both sides.

Conventional insulation works to slow down the rate at which heat conducts through it. The higher the R-Value is the slower the rate of heat loss. Radiant Barrier has no actual R-Value as it works to redirect radiant heat. It holds heat in similar to an aluminum thermos. In addition, it keeps the insulation warmer, slowing down the rate of conductive heat loss.

In heating dominated climates, such as those in the northern parts of the country, installing the radiant barrier in a way to keep heat in, is important. To achieve the desired results the material must be installed on top of the attic insulation, or on the exterior side of wall and floor insulation. In this location the radiant barrier holds heat inside the radiant barrier by not allowing it to radiate off the insulation to the surrounding cold air. It is important to use a perforated radiant barrier product which has small holes punched through the material so it can "breathe" allowing moisture to escape.

Basic installation involves crawling around the attic to spread the material over the attic insulation being careful not to step through the ceiling! Most handy people can tackle this job, but if you have any doubts hire a professional to install it for you.

No matter the age of your house, or how much insulation you already have, adding radiant barrier will help reduce heating and cooling cost saving money on utility bills.

More installation tips and general information can be found on our website, www.energyefficientsolutions.com .

Energy Efficient Solutions is your source for information, sales, and installation of radiant barrier products. http://www.energyefficientsolutions.com