Radiant barriers seems to be a huge deal — Dallas is inundated with advertising about the energy and monetary savings that can be had if you just pony up the cash to install a radiant barrier. But what’s the big deal, and why haven’t my Toolmonger friends in the Midwest ever heard of it?
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a radiant barrier is a highly reflective material designed to stop heat from passing from one open space into another. In other words, a radiant barrier is to heat radiation what a mirror is to visible light. This heat mirror can keep your attic cooler, or your house warmer.
Radiant barriers are less effective at keeping in winter heating energy than at keeping out the summer sun, and because they’re a whole-house solution, they’ll have the greatest impact if the whole house is cooled. Traditional insulation may still provide a better solution for keeping your house comfortable, but the radiant barrier is a good tool for the sunny South.
Photo of house-wrap application of radiant barrier posted on Flickr by Giles Douglas.