The Importance of Having a Radiant Barrier in Your Attic

Everyone looks for ways to save money on their energy bills. Whether it is summer or winter, the cost to keep your home at a comfortable temperature is shooting through the roof. Believe it or not, the solution to this lies in the roof. Several homeowners are installing radiant barriers under their roof to cut down the energy costs.

What is a Radiant Barrier? 

Roof radiant barriers are essentially insulation systems that reflect light and heat off the surface, not allowing them to pass through the material and access the space underneath. This means that when these roof radiant barriers are stapled to the rafters and the underside of the roof, they reflect the radiant heat absorbed by the roof and keep the attic underneath relatively cool.

What is Radiant Heat? 

To understand how radiant heat works, you need to understand how heat travels from a warm area to a cool area. Heat is transferred through the following methods.

  • Conduction – Heat transfer through a material like heat transferring from a hot surface to your hand when you touch it.
  • Convection – Heat transfers through gas or liquid that rises when it heats and falls when it cools down.
  • Thermal Radiation – This heat travels in a straight line until it comes in contact with a solid surface. At this stage, some of it is reflected, but most of it is absorbed.

Now, most insulation systems are designed to handle the first two forms of heat transfer. They would address the radiant heat, but not very effectively. At some point, insulation would reach its saturation point with heat, and start transferring the heat back to the structure underneath the insulation.

This is because of the nature of thermal radiation. It is absorbed by the insulation it comes in contact with. So while other methods of insulation might offer some protection, they’re not as efficient.

The Importance of Having a Radiant Barrier in Your Attic - Major Home Improvement

Note that the sun usually transfers heat through this channel. While it does warm the air, it mostly transfers heat through thermal radiation. That’s the reason why days are warmer and nights are cooler.
Image Source:SavRenergy.com

How do Roof Radiant Barriers Work?

The word reflective insulation explains what roof radiant barriers do and how they work. As we’ve described earlier, radiant heat travels straight until it comes in contact with a solid surface. Here, some of it is reflected back while the rest is absorbed.

What roof radiant barriers do is magnify that reflective action. When radiant heat comes in contact with the roof radiant barriers, majority of it is reflected, while only some is absorbed.

It’s somewhat like living inside a house with the exterior made completely of mirrors. In such a scenario, most of the sun’s radiant heat would be reflected. Roof radiant barriers reduce the gain of radiant heat and therefore save on the energy bills. The right installer would install the roof radiant barriers perpendicular to the energy that it comes in contact with.

There are several kinds of roof radiant barriers. They’re universally made form highly reflective materials. The barriers can also be combined with the traditional insulation systems to give better heat protection.

The Benefits of the Radiant Barrier

There are several benefits of the roof radiant barriers. Just consider the points stated below:

  • First and foremost, roof radiant barriers will make your home more comfortable on all fronts. This means that there would be no incidences where one room is too cold and the other is too hot. The heating and cooling would be even throughout the house.
  • Adding roof radiant barriers can give you anywhere between 5% and 20% of realistic energy savings. 30% savings can be achieved in some homes but there are other factors involved.
  • Roof radiant barriers combined with other traditional insulation methods can offer even better energy savings as they’ll combat all kinds of heat. Just make sure to keeping your roof clean!
  • While roof radiant barriers are more efficient in warm environments and during summer, they can be efficient during winter and in cold environments as well. The idea is to simply place reflective insulation on both sides so that the heat within the house is reflected.

Installing roof radiant barriers in your home is a worthwhile investment and will improve your energy savings. It also doesn’t take too much time or effort.

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