The Difference Between Radiant Barriers and Insulation

Radiant barrier insulation is a low-coating that provides superior performance when it comes to blocking radiant heat transfer. Most often installed between the roof deck and ceiling, this insulation works by reflecting ultraviolet (UV) energy which comes in contact with its surface. When making improvements to your home, radiant barrier insulation is one of the most effective investments you can make.

A common question people ask is whether they should install a radiant barrier or add extra fiberglass insulation to their attic. The right answer may not be the same for everyone, and it usually depends on the preferences of the homeowner, their lifestyle, and, of course, the attic’s capabilities.

A Definition of the Two

Let’s first look at what each one does in-depth, before exploring the reasons for choosing one or the other.

The purpose of insulation is to prevent heat loss or gain from your home. Therefore, it keeps your house at the same temperature. The higher the R-value, the more effective the insulation. Fiberglass insulation is commonly found in most homes and is made of fiberglass.

Unlike a heat barrier, however, a radiant barrier actually blocks and reflects heat back to its source. An effective radiant barrier will have a very low emissivity. The use of radiant barriers is less widespread than insulation.

It’s not either/or

Choosing one or the other doesn’t have to be an either/or decision. They will complement each other very nicely because they are not built to do precisely the same thing. In comparison, radiant barriers work like a shady spot in your house, while insulation works like another blanket on top of your bed.

You will get more bang for your buck with a radiant barrier if you must choose between the two. The reason is that adding insulation can reduce your energy bills four times more than installing solar panels. Having it installed might cost more, but the savings in energy will be worth it. In addition, radiant barriers can save you up to two times as much energy as window shades.

Feel the comfort

Your home will also be more comfortable with a radiant barrier. Most people are more concerned about comfort at home than saving money on energy bills or reducing carbon footprints. Radiant barriers are therefore a great option.  In San Antonio, Texas, where temperatures can be high during the summer, we have found radiant barrier insulation in San Antonio to be true especially in summer.

Radiant barrier insulation in San Antonio is an excellent choice during the summer when you don’t want outside air or heat to get into your home. Radiant barriers reflect most of this heat, while insulation absorbs most of it. During the summer months, radiant heat would make your home unpleasantly hot because a radiant barrier would block the radiant heat from trying to get in.  With a good installation, you can enjoy a cool, comfortable home without constantly running the air conditioner.

The most effective and strongest result for your house will come from installing radiant barrier and insulation together. The radiant barrier, however, would probably take the top spot if you had to choose between the two. Your home will be more comfortable and you will save more energy with it. For temperature control with the best results, leave your attic’s insulation as-is and install a radiant barrier over it.

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