Many homeowners, particularly in the Southern states, are saving money on their utility bill by installing a radiant barrier in their attic. A radiant barrier is a thin layer of highly reflective material which is placed in an air space between a heat radiating surface and a heat absorbing surface. For example, the barrier is usually placed between the roof and the attic insulation thus blocking the transfer of heat between the two surfaces. Because aluminum reflects heat well and does not radiate a lot of heat, it is usually the material used.
The simple concept of a radiant barrier can both increase comfort and save money for homeowners. Without a radiant barrier, the heat from the roof is radiated to the insulation and ductwork below. Heat is then transferred to the ceiling and distributed by your ductwork as your HVAC circulates air. As a result, you see an increase in the amount of energy consumed by your air conditioning system. In fact, a radiant barrier is so effective that it can block upwards of 95% of the heat radiated through the roof.
In hotter climates, a radiant barrier could save you money during very hot summers and milder seasons as well. During summer, they block a considerable amount of heat from transferring into your home, and thus it reduces cooling costs. In spring or fall, they could reduce the need for air conditioning in the first place, by blocking nearly all of the heat transfer that would otherwise make living conditions less comfortable. A radiant barrier can also possibly increase the usable space in your home by making areas without air conditioning such as a garage or attic more comfortable to work in or use as storage.
Radiant barriers are more effective in warm, sunny climates than cooler ones. According to the Department of Energy, homeowners in these hotter areas can expect to save up to 10% on their annual cooling costs just by installing a radiant barrier. The exact amount depends on how large and how well insulated your home is. The more energy efficient the rest of your home is, the more you will save by installing a barrier.
The price of a radiant barrier can vary based on a variety of factors. Some companies have bulk deals, which can lower the price if you purchase in higher amounts. Other factors depend on the barrier itself, how it’s manufactured, whether it is reinforced or added to insulation. Prices can range from as little as 7 cents/square foot to $1/square foot. You then have installation costs, which are usually in the same price range as the material ($0.07-$1/square foot).
Would you consider installing a radiant barrier in your home?
For a relatively minor investment, radiant barriers can help cut your air conditioning bill by up to 10%. Hiring a certified professional is strongly recommended because proper installation is important to the efficacy of the barrier. For DIY enthusiasts, installing radiant barriers is possible, but challenging.