Radiant Barrier – Your Answer to Summer Month’s Radiant Heat

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Installing a radiant barrier can be a great answer to high heat. Summer months bring a lot of inconveniences. Temperatures soar and electric bills shoot up as a response to the need to cool off the house. A barrier is usually installed on the attic order to reduce the summer heat, and in the process help cuts electricity costs associated to cooling. Simply put, the barriers are in place in order to reduce building heating and cooling energy use.

How the Radiant Barrier Works

Once installed, these barriers will reflect the radiant heat back to the source. By some estimates, the barriers can reflect as much as 97 percent of the heat produced. This is usually installed in the attic, and when it’s done most of the heat radiated and received from the roof will be reflected back out through the roof. Thanks to this action, the topmost part of the insulation will be cooler, and helps reduce the amount of heat in the air that circulates in the rooms and areas just below the ceiling.

The commercial barriers that are available in the market are usually made from aluminum foil. This material can perform two basic roles that can help in managing the received heat from the roof. The material used in the barriers can reflect the thermal radiation better. And finally, the material that give off minimal heat. This material is ideal because, one it is a good heat reflector, and two, it is a bad radiator of heat.

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There are a number of materials that are used in making of these barriers. Here are some of the specific materials that are used and popular right now:

  • Single-sided foil or the one foil side together with another material backing like polypropylene. The backing material should be tougher since unreinforced foil will break and tear easily;
  • Foil-faced roof sheathing material which can be provided by suppliers where the foil is fitted to one side of the sheathing;
  • Double-sided foil has reinforcement on both sides, usually a cardboard;
  • Foil-faced insulation using an insulating material that can prevent heat conduction;
  • Multilayered foil systems and;
  • Radiant barrier chips that are commercially available. The chips are usually blown into the floor of the attic to a depth of around 3 inches. The chips act as products with trapped air pockets which can serve as fibrous insulation products. On the surface, these chips can help collect dust but the real job of the chips is to reduce the heat transfer.

What Affects the Efficiency of the Barriers?

Not all of these barriers are similarly efficient. There are three factors that affect the efficiencies of the barriers including emissivity, reflectivity and angle of installation.Emissivity is the ratio of the radiant energy that leaves a surface to a black body at similar temperature and area. This is expressed in a number between zero and one and the higher the number, the higher the heat emitted.

Reflectivity is the measure of how much of the heat is reflected by the material. This is a number expressed between one and zero and can be expressed as a percentage as well. The higher the reflectivity score, the better.

The angle on how the heat is reflected can be considered as a factor in learning the efficiency of the barrier. Heat striking the barrier perpendicularly is considered efficient.

For the barriers to be truly efficient, there must be low emissivity of 0.1 or less, and must score highly on reflectivity with 0.9 or more. And the good news is that most of the barriers that are available for sale and ready to be installed for home use feature almost similar scores when it comes to emissivity and reflectivity. Here’s another thing to note about the efficiencies of these barriers: these barriers are most effective in regions with hot climate than in areas where it is cooler. They are much more effective in a place like Las Vegas, Nevada instead of Chicago, Illinois.The use of the barriers can also be complemented by making some smart decisions during preparation. For example, the next time you are doing your house repair and home improvements, look for the light-colored shingles or use the white or light metal coverings. Look for additional conventional installations. It’s all about shopping for the right materials, and asking for advices from competent contractors in order to save on heating and cooling.

These barriers can be more effective if they are properly installed. For this reason, it’s recommended to get certified professionals to do the hard work. If you must do the installation, make sure that you have the instructions and the safety precautions. Read and study the instructions before starting the work.

Benefits in Adding Radiant Barrier

  • The use of barriers can help reduce the heat during summer months;
  • These can lower cooling costs by as much as 10 percent;
  • Use of barriers can expand the use of space inside the home. Garages, porches and workrooms can be used as working areas or living spaces the moment barriers are used. Since the areas and the attics will be kept cool, these spaces will be more usable for storage purposes;
  • If the aluminum foil is used as the radiant barrier, this can block as much as 97 percent of the heat radiated by the roof thus there is no need to suffer during the hot summer months.

Is it Best to Add These Barriers to your Homes and Offices?

If your house suffers from extreme heat during the hot summer months, then the radiant barrier may serve as a good investment. This can help save energy and money along the way. The concept of using barriers may not be new, but it is only recently that agencies have found its heat-reflecting roles as effective. And the good news is that manufacturers are looking for ways on how to develop other materials that can perform similar functions.


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