In today’s economy, it is more important than ever to make the most of your budget’s energy dollars. Effective insulation can help the average homeowner stretch their money farther, and radiant barrier insulation is the ideal solution. Without sacrificing comfort, reflective insulation can allow cool spaces to remain so for longer periods in the hottest summer weather and keep the whole family toasty for less during the winter. Here’s how.
Reflective insulation and traditional insulation
How is reflective insulation different from bulk insulation often installed in the walls and attic spaces of homes? Because heat moves from warmer to cooler spaces through a variety of mediums—gasses, liquids, and solids—traditional bulk insulation will eventually transfer heat. In the summer, this entails energy from heat absorbed by the roof. In the winter, heat from your home is transferred into the much colder air outside through the process of conduction. Traditional insulation alone is an agent of temperature change, though it does help to maintain your home’s temperature balance.
Thermodynamics and you
Convection describes the transfer of heat via gasses, such as air. Conduction is a term that describes heat movement through solid or liquid mediums – in this case, walls. Radiant heat is that which comes directly from a source – such as a campfire, potbelly stove or even the sun. Radiant barrier acts to reflect heat during the summer months, and because it is installed directly over traditional bulk insulation, it allows cool air to remain within the house. In the winter, it helps to preserve the heat within your home, allowing less to radiate into the surrounding environment.
An excellent way to understand how radiant barrier functions is to consider a space blanket or thermos bottle. They both act to stabilize and retain the temperature of whatever substance they enclose—hot soup or iced tea—longer. Given this understanding, choosing to install reflective insulation in conjunction with traditional bulk insulation can help you to use fewer resources and spend less money on energy to cool or heat your home.
When you install reflective insulation over existing bulk insulation, you take another step in living as efficiently as possible. Because its role is reflective, rather than retardant, it more effectively maintains the comfortable temperature within your home with less variation and input of energy. Climate itself will not impact this type of insulation in the same way it does traditional insulation. The hottest summer temperatures and the bitterest winter conditions of a Continental climate’s extremes won’t affect it. You can spend your hard-earned money elsewhere, and maintain a healthier, more comfortable household temperature year-round, knowing you are using fewer fuel resources in a wiser way.