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Feeling Radiant

Radiant Barriers
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Happy June and welcome to summer everybody! It seems like we spend a lot of time talking attics, so why stop now? Today in our ongoing series of ways to save money and keep the house more comfortable we are going to look at radiant barrier for the attic. There are two basic types of radiant barrier that we can use to help keep the attic cooler. We have a roll out foil, and a much more effective paint style.

The foil type I am not a huge fan of for several reasons, it is basically glorified aluminum foil. The product is stretched between the trusses in the attic and stapled in place. I hope you never need to go back in your attic because this product tears easily. I have also seen several cases where the foil just falls down over time. Finally, my tirade against foil barrier ends with the fact that it does nothing to stop the heat transfer down the trusses and joists. So, as usual I can hear you asking, what should we do?

We use a radiant barrier paint product from a major manufacturer to reflect 65-75% of the ambient heat back out of the attic. This product is sprayed on the interior of the roof deck including down the truss and joists. We can take an attic that is normally 130-140 degrees on a hot summer afternoon and keep it right around 90 degrees even on the worst summer days. Who cares what temperature the attic is, right? Wrong, but thank you for playing.

First off, keeping your attic cooler will make it easier for your already overworked AC system to work a little less and last a little longer. If an air conditioner is working correctly the air leaving the top of the unit will be +/- 20 degrees cooler than whatever you have your thermostat set at. A set point of 74 degrees on the thermostat means the air leaving the machine is right around 54 degrees. By keeping the ducts a little cooler in the attic the unit is more effective at doing its job. Also by reflecting heat back out of the attic the entire thermal envelope of the house is cooler. I do have some bad news for a segment of homeowners out there. If your house has a shingle roof, we cannot use radiant barrier in your attic. Unfortunately, it is so effective at reflecting heat, that in less than five years a shingle roof would be melted and need to be replaced.

As always, the folks at Art Plumbing and AC are here to make your home as cool and comfortable as it can be, while saving you the most money on your electrical bills. Call 1-800-475-1504 or visit to schedule your home evaluation today. House Whisperer out!


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