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Common Questions About Radiant Barrier Insulation


Radiant barrier insulation is a special type of insulation. While most insulation stops heated air from moving in or out of the home, radiant barriers reflect the radiant heat to keep it from entering the home. As sunlight hits the roof, tiles and other materials start to heat up. This heat is then radiated onto the insulation below them. This, of course, reduces the efficiency of the insulation, drives up energy bills, and puts pressure on your cooling system. A radiant barrier will reflect this heat outwards, protecting your insulation in the process.

What is the R-value of a radiant barrier?

A radiant barrier’s effectiveness is not measured in R-value. Instead, its effectiveness is measured by the percentage of radiant heat which is reflected. In almost all cases, this number should be at least 90%.

Do radiant barriers work during the winter?

Yes. In fact, they can reduce heat flow by as much as 17%. In cold climates, a radiant barrier is installed on the floor of the attic, or the ceiling of the home. Conversely, radiant barriers used in warmer climates are installed on the underside of the roof.

Do radiant barriers work if they collect dust?

An accumulation of dust does decrease the reflectivity of the barrier. Some research has shown, however, that over a period of ten years, dust is not accumulated in a large enough quantity to impair a barrier’s effectiveness. To maximize the efficiency of your radiant barrier insulation, make sure it is installed in a way to minimize dust collection.

Can radiant barriers damage my roof?

This is a very common question. Because radiant barriers reflect heat back into the roofing materials, some homeowners are worried that the roof can be damaged. However, the heat does not affect the roof at all, even in southern climates.

Do I have to remove my old insulation in order to install a radiant barrier?

No. Radiant barriers work best when they are installed over a layer of conventional insulation. In fact, you can find thermal insulation that has a radiant barrier as its facing material.  

Do I need a radiant barrier if I already have a lot of insulation in my attic?

Yes. A radiant barrier will save you money regardless of how much insulation you already have in the attic. This is because, as mentioned above, a radiant barrier protects against a different type of heat.

Does the aluminum corrode over time and lose its effectiveness?

Aluminum can be exposed to a wide variety of factors, including weather and salt spray, and it will not show signs of corrosion. In terms of longevity, the American Society of Heating and Air Conditioning Engineer’s Journal reported that hundreds of radiant barrier samples have been stored and tested in laboratory settings for periods of up to a decade with no signs of deterioration.

Should you install a radiant barrier?

If you do not already have radiant barrier insulation in your attic, it is definitely a wise investment. You can save you up to 17% off your heating and cooling bill with a radiant barrier. It will last for a very long time without losing effectiveness. It is also inexpensive and relatively easy to install.



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