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Is a Radiant Barrier Worth It?
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
If you are looking for an efficient and cost-effective way to keep your home cool in Texas during the summer, a possible solution may be a professional radiant barrier installation. A radiant barrier is a highly reflective material that repels the heat penetrating the attic instead of absorbing it. It acts as an additional layer for keeping heat from entering your home.
However, a radiant barrier is not the same as attic insulation. Therefore, it does not reduce heat conduction like thermal insulation materials. Instead, it acts as a supplement to the insulation you may already have in your attic. So, the question is whether it is worth it to install a radiant barrier and if it reduces your heating costs during the hot months.
Below, we take an in-depth look at how it works and is a radiant barrier worth it?
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How is a Radiant Barrier Effective?
During the summer, the sun’s UV rays and the heat they produce can penetrate your home’s roof. The heat travels from a warm area to a cool area (i.e., your home) via radiation, convection, and conduction.
- Conduction – heat transfers through the house materials such as the roofing, wood frame, drywall, etc.
- Convection – Gas or liquid loses its density and rises. Any heat below the house may rise into a room.
- Radiation – Heat travels horizontally from a surface (i.e., your walls) and increases the temperature of any material that absorbs its energy.
The heat invades your home from the attic, walls, and even the flooring. When you install a radiant barrier, it keeps the heat from accumulating. In essence, it prevents heat buildup. When combined with insulation, a radiant barrier effectively reduces the amount of heat that enters your home.
How Does a Radiant Barrier Work?
When UV rays reach the roofing system, the sun’s radiant energy heats the roof. The heat travels through conduction. Once inside the attic, the heat builds up and converts the cool attic surface into a hot surface. When installed correctly, the radiant barrier can simultaneously reduce or eliminate heat conduction, convection, and radiation.
The radiant barrier’s reflective surface must face an open-air space to be effective. The surface must also be clean and dust-free. For this reason, professionals usually install a reflective barrier in an open space and position it, so there is little to no dust accumulation.
A licensed professional must install it properly to get the most out of the radiant barrier. There are several factors to consider.
- The radiant barrier must be perpendicular to the radiant energy. The energy must strike it at a 90-degree angle.
- There must be a substantial difference between each side of the radiant barrier material.
- Radiant barriers are designed for hot climates – the hotter the attic, the more effective the barrier.
- Never use a radiant barrier as insulation. They work in tandem with attic or wall insulation.
What Are the Benefits of a Radiant Barrier?
The average temperature in Texas during the summer is between 86 and 98 degrees Fahrenheit. When combined with low rainfall and humidity, 90-degree temperatures can feel unbearable. As part of a whole-attic system, radiant barriers can improve the comfort of your home.
Humidity Does Not Affect Radiant Barriers
Humidity is not an issue in most areas in Texas. However, southern and eastern Texas has higher humidity levels than northern and western Texas. Thankfully, no matter where you live in Texas, radiant barriers are unaffected by humidity because they reflect heat and do not absorb it.
Radiant Barriers Are Non-Toxic
Whether you are healthy or suffer from health issues, you do not have to worry about radiant barriers contaminating your home. Barriers do not emit harmful particles that can harm your body. Unlike insulation, radiant barriers do not irritate your lungs, eyes, or skin. They are made of non-toxic materials that are safe to use in the home.
Barriers Have a High R-Value
R-Value measures how much thermal energy passes through a surface. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulative properties of the material. The materials in a radiant barrier can reflect up to 97 percent of radiant heating, giving it a higher R-value than most attic or wall insulation types. When combined with insulation, a radiant barrier creates a nearly impenetrable envelope around the house.
You Save Money on Cooling Costs
To be fair, radiant barriers alone only reduce between five to ten percent of your monthly cooling costs. However, when combined with insulation, barriers can cut your cooling bill in half. Naturally, the results will vary depending on the size of your home and if it is well-insulated. However, every little bit helps. A radiant barrier may put $200 to $300 back in your pocket annually.
Use Radiant Barriers Around the House
Although the primary use for radiant barriers is as a supplement to the attic or wall insulation, there are other ways that you can use them around the house. For instance, you can use barriers as insulators for water pipes, hot water tanks, and wrapping ducts. They are helpful because they reflect heat away from surfaces.