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What is Reflective Insulation?

Reflective Insulation 101

Reflective insulation (or radiant barrier insulation) is typically installed in attics to reduce heat absorption. While most forms of insulation work to slow down heat conductivity, reflective insulation doesn't really slow the transfer of heat at all. Instead, it attempts to reflect most of the heat energy before it is absorbed.

This type of insulation is lightweight and easy to install with new construction. Although it is more difficult, it is also possible to install reflective insulation in the attic of an existing home.

What is it made of?

Reflective insulation is typically made with aluminum foil. Some varieties have a similar appear to bubble wrap while others are flat with a paper or plastic backing. In order for this technology to work properly, the inside of the foil must face the attic’s interior air space.

Additionally, dust and debris accumulation on the reflective surface will seriously impact the effectiveness of the insulation. To prevent dust accumulation, it is best to install the insulation near roof rafters, rather than on the attic floor.

How does it work?

Usually, the rays of the sun heat up the shingles of your roof. After this heat energy is absorbed, it is transferred inside where it heats up the cooler air in the home’s attic. When the attic becomes very hot, your HVAC unit has to work harder to keep the entire house cool during the summer. Traditional, thermal insulation attempts to slow the transfer of heat into the cooler attic.

Conversely, radiant barrier insulation, when installed under the roof’s surface, can reflect this heat before it enters the attic. The highly reflective foil not only helps reduce the amount of heat entering the attic, but it can also help reduce the cost of cooling your home in the summer.

Read More: 8 Reasons Why You Should Insulate Your Home

Where does it work best?

Reflective insulation works best in hot climates that receive lots of sunshine. In colder climates, there is less heat energy to reflect and these systems are much less effective. Thermal insulation, like fiberglass batt insuatlion, is the preferred choice in colder regions that experience freezing temperatures during the winter. Additionally, reflective insulation works particularly well when the air conditioner's ductwork is located in the home's attic.

Related: Cost of Radiant Barrier Insulation

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About the Author

ProMatcher Staff, ProMatcher
Orlando, FL 32803

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