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Radiant Barrier

interior of a country house, a heat-insulating layer of reflective polyethylene foam laminated with lavsan when insulating a house

There are three ways that heat travels from point A to point B; convection, conduction, and radiation. Convection is heat travelling from one molecule to another through liquids so it isn’t normally an insulation factor for houses, although it could be important for your pool. Conduction is the transfer of heat through solids because of a difference in temperature between them - simply put the hot thing that touches the cold thing passes on the heat. Then there’s the third heat exchanger; radiation. Radiant heat travels in a straight line and heats anything in its path. For us the big source of radiant heat is our friend the sun and that solar radiation that beams down on us and brings smiles to our faces is also striking the roof and turning the attic into an oven. This is Texas, which means the sun can prove merciless. Unless we do something to stop it.


How Radiant Barriers Work

Most insulation types work by absorbing the heat but radiant barriers are different. Instead of absorbing thermal energy they reflect it away. Which is why most radiant barriers are shiny and metal. Radiant barriers work best when they are perpendicular to the rays and their effectiveness is reduced if they get dirty or dusty so they need to be set up right and cared for. Decent radiant barriers can reduce the cooling bill of a home by ten per cent and have knock on savings too since they mean you don’t need such powerful AC units and AC units working less hard will last longer between maintenance or replacement.


Types of Radiant Barrier

The basic radiant barrier is an aluminum foil - a technique which NASA famously used for the early Apollo missions although the truth is that radiant barriers were around long before then. That foil is vacuum sealed to a structure or fused to any number of materials including boards and even paper. Typically for a house roof you don’t have to have a shiny surface - the shingles can stay right where you’d expect but immediately underneath them and facing outwards is a foil facing bound to a board.


Works in Winter Too

Though the obvious use for a radiant barrier layer is to shield your attic from the burning sun, the effect of a properly installed radiant barrier also works to help keep that warmth inside the house when the weather gets cooler. Ask us about all-season radiant barriers to reduce your bills all year round.


Combination Insulation

The best radiant barriers are combined with other forms of insulation including our spray on and blow in insulation approaches as well as high density boards, closed cells foams and traditional fiberglass batt in order to get the maximum effect when it comes to protecting your property from the heat of the sun by day in summer, and keeping it warm in winter. We will be happy to inspect your home and make a detailed proposal of the best and best value approach for you.

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