Residential radiant barriers are an important part of keeping the temperature in your home regulated, as well as keeping heating and cooling prices lower. Radiant barriers are materials installed in homes to reduce the heat coming in during the summer and the heat going out in the winter.
One of the most important areas to make sure has a residential radiant barrier is in the attic. An effective radiant barrier in the attic will reduce the cooling load for the air-conditioner, especially in hot or warm climates.
Materials Used as Barriers
When a laminated resident radiant barrier is used in an attic, studies have shown that it can reduce the temperature in the attic by a full 30 degrees. Often the barrier used is a thin coating of a reflective material, such as aluminum, that is applied to some type of substrate material. These materials can include plastic film, paper, plywood sheathing, cardboard, and other materials. Some of these materials will be reinforced with fiber to increase their durability.
Residential radiant barriers are also installed to reduce winter heat loss through the ceiling. The barriers will reduce the amount of energy that is radiated through the top surface of insulation.
Where to Put Barriers
Residential radiant barriers reduce the heat that is transferred trough the air between the roof deck and the floor of the attic. This is the area that insulation is usually placed. There are several different configurations for installing radiant barriers in attics. One of the easiest ways is to lay the barrier on top of the attic insulation that is already there. It should be laid with the reflective side facing up. This is referred to as the attic floor application.
Another way that residential radiant barriers can be installed is to attach the barrier near to the roof. It can be attached to the bottom of the rafter framing or to the attic truss chords. It can also be draped over the tops of the rafters, but this should be before the roof deck has been applied.
Barrier Installation Tips
Anyone installing a residential radiant barrier should be outfitted with the proper clothing, due to the hazards of handling the conventional insulation. Insulation is known to cause irritation to the respiratory system, as well as irritation to the skin and eyes. Protective clothing should include eye protection, gloves and some type of breathing protection. You should also make sure that there is lighting adequate to see any hazards that exist.
Care should be taken with any electrical wiring, especially around junction boxes or any old wiring that may be present. Work with residential radiant barriers in the attic should also be done when the temperatures are moderate. When laying the radiant barrier with the attic floor application, be sure not to cover any lights or vents.
If the attic is not finished, it important to watch your step, and to work with a partner, in case anything should go wrong while installing the residential radiant barrier. In unfinished attics, stand only on the joists or in the center of a strong work surface, to avoid falling through the ceiling below.
Nails can also be a hazard. In many attics, roofing nails have penetrated the roof and are sticking through to the attic. In those cases, a hard hat may be necessary in addition to the other protective clothing.