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When Is Radiant Barrier Insulation Right for You?

When you think of insulation, you may think of ways to keep your home warm, but the concept obviously works both ways. Radiant barrier insulation will actually reflect heat whereas most types of insulation will absorb it to slow down the speed of incoming outside air. Radiant barrier insulation is not discussed as often as standard insulation is, but for some, it's the choice that makes the most sense. We'll take you through the process.

How It Works

People who employ this method may use reflective foil or sheathing to attach to their roof or they may go the extra step and have full metal roof shingles to keep heat away from the house. You can staple the foil to the framework of an attic in an existing home with space left at the ridges and eaves. The point is to allow the heat to exit through the vents in the roofing. Or you can just attach the metal roof shingles directly on top of the current material you have on your home. While you can install the insulation, it may make more sense for you to hire someone as one mistake could lose you a lot of efficiency. Whatever you do, do not just lay it out on the floor, as dust will make it obsolete fairly quickly.

Hot Areas, High Energy Bills

In winter, you can don a few sweaters to feel more comfortable in the cold air, but it's tougher to apply the same concept when the temperature in your home climbs well past 90 degrees. When your air conditioning bills can't take it anymore, this may be the best time to consider radiant barrier insulation. Arizona and New Mexico is starting to see the popularity of radiant barrier increase, given that enclosed attics there can reach close to 150 degrees. Most people agree they work better for these extremely warm areas. You may want to talk to a professional before you decide for sure if this is the right choice for you, as certain types of existing insulation may work against a radiant barrier.

Cost to Install

If you have a small attic and it's easy to reach, then you'll likely be looking at a price that's relatively affordable. It will also depend on the type of insulation you'll choose, as the roof shingles are more labor intensive than the foil. Plus, there's no doubt that it will save you money on your air conditioning bills — up to 12 percent in the extremely sunny areas.

Final Thoughts

If you live in an exposed home without much shade, this could wind up being a good investment for you — especially if you dread opening your energy bills every month. An extra 12 percent multiplied over the months will certainly add up. The smartest way to determine this is to compare the discount to the cost of insulating, and then talk to an expert about your particular house and the best choice for you.

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