Radiant Barrier

If you want to maximize the energy efficiency level of your attic and of your whole house, one key element in accomplishing that is to install a high-quality radiant barrier on your attic ceiling. 

A radiant barrier will prevent excessive heat build up in your attic. And when your attic is overheated, that heat can seep down into your living spaces below, making it take longer and cost more to keep your home cool during those hot Southern California summers.

At Pure Eco, we can help you upgrade your home's energy efficiency rating by helping you select, and then installing for you, a quality radiant barrier. To learn more or for a free, no obligation energy efficiency consultation, contact us today by calling 877-778-2551!

How Does a Radiant Barrier Work?

The large majority of the heat lost from your home in the cold months exits through your attic - that's why insulation on the attic ceiling, walls, and floor are so important. But during the hotter months, large amounts of heat enter your house through the roof and attic and seep down into the rest of your home to make cooling more difficult and more expensive - that's the problem that a radiant barrier can solve.

Radiant barriers consist of layers of foil, usually made of aluminum, that is highly reflective and will literally "bounce" heat back out of your house as it tries to stream in through the attic ceiling.

And besides its extremely high reflectivity, the materials used on the upward facing side of radiant barriers also possess extremely low "emissivity." You've probably heard of how "low-E" windows can keep excess heat out of your house - the low-E materials radiant barriers are made of do the same thing on the top of your home. That is, heat will not easily transfer through a radiant barrier (or low-E window pane) but will mostly reflect backwards off of it.

A radiant barrier will help you increase the comfort level of your home and lower your energy use in every season of the year. In the summer, it reflects off the heat so your house stays cooler; in the winter, its low emissivity helps to trap heat inside your home so it’s easier to keep at a comfortably warm temperature.

To reach your home's full energy efficiency potential, you need more than just a radiant barrier. You need to air seal the attic, install insulation throughout your home (attic, walls, ceilings, floors, basements, crawlspaces.) You also need a proper ventilation system, with vents and fans in all the right places. BUT, a radiant barrier boosts your effective overall R-value to new levels that you couldn't reach without it.

The Three Kinds of Heat Transfer

The key background science to understanding how and why a radiant barrier works is all about the different ways that heat in transferred (or blocked or slowed.) 

Radiant barriers basically block/slow heat transfer AND redirect heat, thus "transferring" it in the opposite direction - away from your house!

Heat can move by means of conduction. That is, when two objects in direct physical contact, heat will transfer from one of them and into (and through) the other. This is the least effective means of transferring heat, and thus, the most effective means of blocking/slowing heat transfer - depending on the materials in contact. Low-e materials that radiant barriers are made out of will tend to block heat more than to let it transfer through by conduction.

Convection is the next major way in which heat is transferred. Convection means that heat is transferred through the air or another gas or liquid (a fluid) and circulates and dissipates until the area is evenly heated. This kind of heating can take a good deal of time to really kick in, but good insulation and lack of air leaks in the building will speed it up. A radiant barrier already prevents most heat coming through it by conduction, and the little bit that does will have minimal impact via convection on your attic air.

Finally, heat is transferred most rapidly and effectively by thermal radiation (radiant heat). This is the kind of heat transfer that occurs when the sun warms up your body even while the air outside is still cold or when a radiant heater does the same. The heat is transferred directly from the source of heat to the object heated without having to first heat another object or the intervening air. That's great when you want to get warm, but not when heat radiates in massive waves into your attic! A radiant barrier reflects that radiant heat back out - and because counteracting radiant heat is the most important facet of what a radiant barrier does, that's what it takes its name from.

How Much Will I Save With a Radiant Barrier?

Simply adding a radiant barrier on your attic ceiling will generally reduce heat gain in your home by around 40%, which will translate into something in the neighborhood of a 17% reduction in your energy bill. Of course, there are many factors that affect your energy bills, and exact results can vary; but a one-sixth reduction or so is a big dent in your monthly power and/or gas bill - especially for just a single addition to your attic ceiling to accomplish!

The bigger your energy bill, the more extreme the outdoor temperatures, the more you will save as to dollar-amount per month due to a radiant barrier. If you only spend $100 a month, you save $17. If you spend $300, you save $50. Now, that might not sound like much, but consider multiplying that times 12 and then by however many years you live in your home. Over a 10 year period, you could be saving, say, $6,000. That's why it's worth it to install a radiant barrier - especially in Los Angeles and Southern California where the hot summer heat makes the value of radiant barriers even greater than in some other climates.

Plus, the more you lower your energy usage, the more you help reduce our collective carbon footprint and "do the earth good." A radiant barrier benefits both you and the environment!

The Radiant Barrier Installation Process

At Pure Eco, we know what are the best radiant barriers on today's market and we can help you select one that fits your needs and your budget. And we also are highly experienced in installing radiant barriers in strict accord with manufacturer's instructions, which will get you the optimal benefit from them as well as protect your product warranty.

All radiant barriers are installed on the attic ceiling, but there are two different ways in which this can be done. 

First, you can place the radiant barrier directly up against the underside of your rafters - just below the roof line on the wood. This method is generally best in hot climates like L.A. in order to get the highest possible energy savings per year.

Second, you could install a radiant barrier over insulation that is already on your attic ceiling, between the rafters. This method is usually used in colder climates because it maximizes the heat retention of the attic. But it helps during the colder months even in places like Los Angeles and Southern California.

Ideally, you could actually place one radiant barrier above and a second one below your attic-ceiling insulation to maximize both beneficial effect of a radiant barrier in both summer and winter. But most people find that cost-prohibitive to their budgets and go with either/or. And in the L.A. Area, system one (direct on the attic ceiling with any insulation installed under it) is by far more common.

BUT, some in L.A. choose to use system two (below attic insulation) because they don't want to have to remove and reinstall existing insulation on the attic ceiling. That a reasonable reason because the radiant barrier will still work quite effectively either way in any climate, but if you want us to remove and reinstall your insulation to place the radiant barrier above your existing insulation, of course, that's no problem for the crew at Pure Eco! It's totally up to you.

Finally, note that when installing a radiant barrier, it's very important to not allow dust to accumulate on top of the reflective surface. That means we have to seal the barrier to make a complete envelope where no air can get in. We at Pure Eco know how to minimize dust both before and after your radiant barrier has been installed.

Myth Busting Radiant Barriers

Unfortunately, there are a number of false but popular assumptions concerning radiant barriers circulating out there. A lot of people fear, for example, that a radiant barrier will cause excessive heat build up in their attic instead of reduce it - but that's just not the case.

It will keep your home and attic a little warmer during the winter, but it certainly won't create an overheating problem - in fact, it keeps heat out of your attic at the time of year when that's desirable.

Others fear that the aluminum surface of a radiant barrier will just corrode over time and lose their effectiveness. But there is no evidence of this, and tests have been conducted that refute such a conclusion. Also realize that aluminum does not rust.

A third myth is that radiant barriers "cook" roofing shingles. But although the heat reflected by them will partially be absorbed by shingles, for a while at least before the heat passes through the shingles and away into the atmosphere - this will only raise your shingles' temperature by a few degrees. Shingles can handle temperatures of 160 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit, and adding at most (on the hottest days) 5 degrees to that is not going to "cook" them.

Another myth is that a radiant barrier will wipe out your cellular phone signal. Phone signals pass through walls, ceilings, window glass, and more, and they won't be blocked by a thin layer of paper and aluminum. 

Finally, some people say that radiant barriers can only be installed in new homes. But we at Pure Eco have been installing them in older homes for many years with great energy efficiency benefits accruing to the home owners. In fact, three-quarters of the homes we put radiant barriers into were built during the 20th Century.

Why Choose Pure Eco?

At Pure Eco, we have deep experience in optimally installing radiant barriers in Southern California homes of all ages and descriptions. We know which are the best radiant barrier products out there on the market that will reflect 97% or more of radiant heat.

And we can give you the information you need to make a truly informed decision about whether to get a radiant barrier, which type/brand to invest in, and which installation method to opt for.

We can explain to you the full benefits you will get out of your radiant barrier, including sometimes overlooked factors like how a radiant barrier makes attic-based duct work more efficient.

Plus, we at Pure Eco can air seal, install insulation, clean and rodent proof your attic, and take care of any other insulation and energy efficiency related tasks you want done at the same time we are putting in your radiant barrier.

We know how to make your home maximally comfortable, lower your energy bill in all seasons of the year, and reduce your carbon footprint. And installing a radiant barrier is one thing that can contribute toward all of those goals.

Contact us today by calling 877-778-2551, and we will give you a free, no obligation consultation and a free, accurate estimate on a radiant barrier and any other home insulation products of services you may be interested in!

Terms:

  • Merriam - Webster Definition of an atom (3) “the smallest particle of an element that can exist either alone or in combination .”
  • Merriam - Webster Definition; electromagnetic (1) “fundamental physical force that is responsible for interactions between charged particles which occur because of their charge and for the emission and absorption of photons.”
  • Merriam - Webster Definition; radiation / radiate  (1) “rays or reflecting beams of light.”  
  • Merriam - Webster Definition; emissivity “the relative power of a surface to emit heat by radiation :  the ratio of the radiant energy emitted by a surface to that emitted by a blackbody at the same temperature.

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