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Do Some Research Before Investing in Radiant Barriers

March 16, 2011

Do Some Research Before Investing in Radiant Barriers

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Department Urges Consumers to Do Some Research Before Investing in Radiant Barriers

(ST. PAUL, MN) The Minnesota Department of Commerce, Office of Energy Security (OES), has received several questions from Minnesota residents regarding the purchase and installation of radiant barriers in attics.  Vendors of this technology are pitching their products to consumers in mailers and inviting them to presentations to learn more. Consumers, in turn, are looking to OES for guidance.

Radiant barriers consist of a reflective film installed over the top of attic insulation in existing homes. They are sold as an energy-saving product, with claims of significant reductions in both heating and cooling costs. An Oak Ridge National Laboratory study concludes that attic radiant barriers are not an effective way to reduce heating or cooling loads in Minnesota. In climate zones in the southern US, measurable cooling savings can be made through reduction of heat transferred from the attic to the living space. In Minnesota's climate zone, however, potential energy savings from the installation of a radiant barrier are negligible in nearly every situation. The test further concludes that adding conventional attic insulation and implementing proper air sealing would be a much better option for saving energy. In fact, as the attic insulation levels increase, the study says, the potential benefits from a radiant barrier decrease.

OES encourages consumers to conduct careful and thorough research before investing in any energy-efficiency technology or improvement for their home.  The benefits associated with many such products can vary depending on a number of factors, including the unique characteristics of a consumer's home and the climate in which the consumer resides. It is unlikely that most Minnesota consumers would realize any measureable energy savings from installing radiant barrier films in their attics.

For more information on insulation and other energy-efficient measures to improve your home, contact the Office of Energy Security at 800-657-3710 or 651-296-5175 or visit www.energy.mn.gov . The website offers free downloadable home energy guides, including "Home Insulation" and "Home Envelope." Additional radiant barrier information is available from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.