A radiant barrier is a useful protective system that can minimize your home’s energy bill. By lowering the temperature of your attic, your cooling system doesn’t have to work as hard to keep the rest of your home comfortable.
How does a radiant barrier work, and is it the right solution for your home?
Heat Transfer Explained
Heat is transferred in multiple ways: conduction, convection and radiation. Conductive heat transfer is heat passing from one material to another directly in contact with it. Convection transfer is hot air, liquid or gas moving away from the source of energy, bringing heat to a cooler area.
Radiation is what happens when electromagnetic waves pass from the source of energy to another object that is able to absorb its energy. This is how your roof gets hot from the sun’s rays. Once your roof absorbs the heat, conduction allows the heat to fully penetrate the roof deck, making the attic side of your roof hot.
Once the interior side of your roof is heated, it uses radiant energy to heat the attic floor and any items stored there. Even with a ventilation system designed to sweep hot air out of the space, your attic can reach stifling temperatures. This can put a strain on your home’s cooling system as it tries to overcome the conductive filtering down through the attic floor.
The Function of a Radiant Barrier
The underside of your roof allows the radiation to penetrate and heat your attic. The materials facing into your attic, such as plywood, have a high emissivity. That means these materials are good at emitting radiant heat.
What can a radiant barrier do? A radiant barrier is made of highly reflective material like foil. When it is installed on the interior side of your roof, it still absorbs heat through conduction, but it does not radiate the heat throughout the attic. The radiation waves are stopped in their tracks and your attic stays cooler.
Is it Right for Your Roof?
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a radiant barrier has the potential to decrease a home’s cooling costs by up to 10 percent. However, whether a radiant barrier is the right choice for your home depends on the climate in which you live.
If you frequently experience warm, sunny days, then it probably will be worth the cost of installation. If it’s usually cold outside, it might not make enough of a difference to justify the expense.
If you’re in doubt, talk to a roofing contractor with experience installing radiant barriers. If you opt to have one installed, they have to make sure it is compatible with your roofing materials and does not void the warranty. Call Knockout Roofing today and get a free quote for installing a radiant barrier in your home.