What Does a Radiant Barrier Do?

Something we love about San Diego is how the sun is almost always shining. Something we don’t like about San Diego is how hot it can be from all that sun. As more homeowners turn towards energy efficient solutions for home cooling, we’re starting to see an uptick in people asking about radiant barrier. For those wondering what radiant barrier does, we explain everything here.

What is Radiant Heat?

It’s a cruel joke the sun plays on us when the inside of our car, or home, is much warmer than the outside. We see this happen a lot in cars parked without shade and in the common household attic.

When it’s 95° outside your attic can easily reach a temperature of 150°. But how does it get that hot?

The quick answer is radiant energy and radiant heat. Radiant energy can be found in electromagnetic waves, like heat waves. Which can easily transfer from the outside atmosphere into places like your car interior or attic.

A good example of this is when you park your car in the sun without any shade. Though the sun itself never gets in your car, when you return the inside is much hotter than the outside.

Now think of that extreme heat in your attic. Not only can it degrade your ducts and HVAC system, that heat can also transfer to insulation which then goes down into your home.

How do Radiant Barrier Work?

We’re going to be referencing your hot car a lot in this post. When you put a sunshade over your windshield or park under a tree, your car interior stays substantially cooler.

The same theory works for your home. In cars, a reflective sun shield bounces heat rays away from your car and back into the atmosphere. Radiant barrier works exactly the same.

When used and installed properly, radiant barrier will reflect radiant energy and heat back into the atmosphere and away from your home.

Another way to think about radiant barrier is in terms of an insulated stainless steel cup. The cup keeps cold drinks cool and hot drinks warm. Radiant barrier does the same for your home.

What is Radiant Barrier Made From?

To put it simply, the average radiant barrier is a reflective foil that creates a gap between your home and the sun. Don’t think they’re made of kitchen foil though. The material is much closer to that of a blanked found in most survival kits.

Radiant barriers are made from an industrial grade foil.

When it comes to trying it yourself, we don’t recommend it. The foil needs to be hung in a specific way or it won’t work. Also, vaulted roofs can lead to some safety issues for anyone in an average height range.

It’s best to leave this job to the professionals, or an expert in the art of home improvement.

What are the Benefits?

When installed correctly and in the right conditions, radiant barrier can offer a lot of help. This form of attic insulation is highly recommended for homes whose ductwork and furnace live in the attic.

A radiant barrier can help expand the lifetime of your HVAC system.

We mentioned before that the extreme heat in the attic and degrade your ductwork, but it can also weaken your HVAC system. Radiant barrier can help expand the lifetime of your HVAC system.

It also helps shave a little off your utility bills. According to energy.gov, radiant barrier can save between 5% and 10% on your monthly bill.