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Energy Savings with Radiant Barrier Foil

Consumers are less concerned about how energy barriers work than they are about their effect on utility bills. This is much less than the 95% reduction in attic radiant heat flow because other forms of heat flow contribute to the total cooling (or heating) load. Data can expect to vary with region. The following data provided by The Tennessee Valley Authority, Chattanooga, Tennessee on Performance Testing of Radiant Barriers demonstrates the savings possible for a typical home:

  • All the Radiant Barrier configurations yielded sizable percent savings and statistically significant reductions in summer attic heat transfer compared to the non-RB case. Also, as the ambient temperature increases, the savings also increase.
  • The Radiant Barrier under the rafters (RBR) was the best summer performer. It consistently showed heat flux reductions compared to the non-RB case of nearly 40% for almost all ambient temperatures and even showed savings during mild temperature and night summer conditions.
  • The Radiant Barrier configurations provide statistically significant reductions in winter attic heat fluxes in many situations. The percent savings during night hours and during below 35° conditions, when heating loads are the highest, are usually sizable (from 6 to 23%) and the differences between the RB configurations and the non-RB case are often statistically significant during these conditions.
  • The Radiant Barrier on top of insulation (RBT) was the best winter performer. It showed heat flux reductions up to 25% during night hours and up to 17% during the day.

Summer Results
Average Ceiling Heat Fluxes for All Hours1

Configuration Heat Flux
(Btu/hr-ft2)
% Savings
(vs Same R-value, no Radiant Barrier)
R11/no RB
R11/RBR
2.38
1.57
-
34%
R19/no RB
R19/RBR
1.45
1.01
-
30%
R30/ no RB
R30/RBR
1.06
0.84
-
20%
1Average ambient conditions during these hours were:
Ambient Temperature
Solar Radiation
Wind Speed
= 81°F
= 78 Btu/hr-ft2
= 2.6 mi/h

Summer Results
Average Ceiling Heat Fluxes for Day Hours
(11 a.m. to 6 p.m.)1

Configuration Heat Flux
(Btu/hr-ft2)
% Savings
(vs Same R-value, no Radiant Barrier)
R11/no RB
R11/RBR
5.27
3.22
-
39%
R19/no RB
R19/RBR
3.20
2.06
-
36%
R30/ no RB
R30/RBR
2.07
1.57
-
24%
1Average ambient conditions during these hours were:
Ambient Temperature
Solar Radiation
Wind Speed
= 89°F
= 179 Btu/hr-ft2
= 4.7 mi/h

Winter Results
Average Ceiling Heat Fluxes for All Hours1

Configuration Heat Flux
(Btu/hr-ft2)
% Savings
(vs Same R-value, no Radiant Barrier)
R11/no RB
R11/RBR
R11/RBT
-2.42
-2.28
-2.02
-
6%
17%
R19/no RB
R19/RBR
R19/RBT
-1.49
-1.56
-1.41
-
-5%
5%
R30/ no RB
R30/RBR
R30/RBT
-0.96
-0.90
-0.82
-
6%
15%
1Average ambient conditions during these hours were:
Ambient Temperature
Solar Radiation
Wind Speed
= 40.2°F
= 31.1 Btu/hr-ft2
= 1.9 mi/h

Winter Results
Average Ceiling Heat Fluxes for Night Hours1

Configuration Heat Flux
(Btu/hr-ft2)
% Savings (vs Same R-value, no Radiant Barrier)
R11/no RB
R11/RBR
R11/RBT
-3.04
-2.66
-2.38
-
13%
22%
R19/no RB
R19/RBR
R19/RBT
-1.64
-1.64
-1.39
-
0%
15%
R30/ no RB
R30/RBR
R30/RBT
-1.01
-0.86
-0.76
-
15%
25%
1Average ambient conditions during these hours were:
Ambient Temperature
Solar Radiation
Wind Speed
= 37.7°F
= 0 Btu/hr-ft2
= 1.5 mi/h

(Sources: Tennessee Valley Authority - Chattanooga, TN)

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