Radiant Barriers

Cool things off naturally with radiant heat barriers

If you're looking for a cost-effective way to reduce your home's heat transfer rate, radiant barriers are a solution you should consider. Installed in the upper reaches of your home, attic radiant barriers work to minimize home heat loss during winter and inhibit home heat gain during the summer.

Radiant heat barriers can be installed in all kinds of buildings, including residential houses, condominiums and apartments as well as commercial and industrial structures. Regardless of the scale of the barrier's design, all radiant energy barriers draw on the same principles to restrain heat transfer.

How Radiant Heat Barriers Work

The purpose of a radiant barrier is to reflect away heat that is trying to come into the house from outside and maintain a steady indoor air temperature. In this sense, they perform a job similar to that of insulation, except that insulation uses convection to trap heat inside its air pockets while radiant barriers simply reflect the heat away.

These installations are sometimes called reflective radiant barriers or foil radiant barriers because of the important role reflective materials play in their design. A highly emissive or reflective surface, usually aluminum foil, is used to cover one or both sides of the barrier. If you're installing the barrier in your attic floor, it must be porous enough to permit water vapor to pass through its surface. Heat then bounces off the reflective surface; if it's a one-sided barrier, the reflective surface will face upwards to bounce off heat trying to come into the house through the roof. If it's two-sided, it will prevent both heat gain and heat loss simultaneously.

The Cost of Installing Attic Radiant Barriers

As you would expect, the better-performing a specific type of radiant barrier material is, the higher its cost. Radiant barriers are given an emission rating that falls between 0 and 1; the lower the number, the better its overall performance.

Typically, installing a radiant barrier in a new home is less expensive than adapting an older home to the technology, though it is certainly possible to do so. You should also expect retrofitted and reinforced radiant barriers to cost more. Regardless of the type of radiant barrier you choose to install, always work with a licensed and experienced professional. This ensures the system will perform its best and save you the most money in your home heating and cooling costs.

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