Originally developed by NASA for astronaut space suits, radiant barriers are highly reflective, low emissivity aluminum sheet products that are extremely effective at blocking radiant heat transfer. As home and business owners become aware of the savings that aluminum radiant barrier foils provide, most are taking advantage of these simple highly effective products and using them to increase the efficiency of their structures.
A radiant barrier is a material with a very low emissivity and high reflectivity giving it the ability to virtually stop the transfer of radiant heat or thermal conductivity. This allows the radiant barrier to reduce heat gain in the summer and heat loss in the winter, thus reducing the net heating and cooling needs of the structure. While radiant barriers are effective in both hot and cold climates, they are far more effective when installed in attics in hot climates where they can reduce summer heat gain by over 40%. In colder climates, the primary function of radiant barriers are to keep the mechanically generated heat inside thereby reducing heating cost by as much as 17%.
Radiant barriers come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials such as kraft paper, plastic films, cardboard, plywood sheathing, and air infiltration barrier material. Some radiant barriers come with a fiber reinforcement which increases the durability allowing it to hold staples better than non reinforced radiant barriers while making them easier to handle and work with during installation. Some Radiant barriers also come with laser perforations which allows the passage of water vapor to stop condensation buildup which could cause water damage and deterioration in wood structures.
Virtually any structure will benefit from a Radiant Barrier system, especially if any of the following conditions are present
- Hot attic space, which can reach 150°F or higher
- Aged, compacted, little or no attic insulation
- Dark colored or asphalt shingles
- Hot second story rooms
- Air ducts located in the attic space
- Air handler located in the attic space
- Little or no tree shading over your house
Radiant Barrier reflective foil insulation will:
- Reduce heating and cooling cost
- Increase comfort levels
- Make the structure more energy efficient
- Reduce heat loss in the winter
- Reduce heat gain in the summer