We see a lot of companies recommending “quick fixes” to attic insulation problems. One of the most common in Austin right now is installing radiant barriers, either alone or combined with solar attic fans. This must be installed in attics as a system that includes proper insulation techniques and air sealing to have positive effects on the home.
Band-Aid Fix for a Serious Problem
Unfortunately, this low-cost approach to a serious comfort issue in many homes often creates more problems than it solves. We agree that tackling the attic areas offers the biggest bang for your buck, but we don’t believe radiant barriers do the job.
Based on our years of building performance experience, the approach we recommend is attic air sealing and insulation replacement to solve a myriad of problems as well as keep your home cool, comfortable and healthy.
What is a Radiant Barrier Installation?
Many marketers are promoting radiant barrier installation as a solution to the elevated attic temperatures we experience in the Austin, Texas area. The idea behind the radiant barrier is to install a material with some reflective properties to reduce radiant heat buildup in your attic. The problem is that there are actually three types of heat in your attic:
Radiant, similar to heat your hand feels when next to a hot skillet
Conductive, when the skillet heats up by touching the element
Convective, when heat is distributed by air movement
A radiant barrier only tackles one source of heat, and not very well. It also doesn’t prevent humid hot air from your attic from seeping into your living areas. Plus, while the radiant barrier cost seems like a bargain, it’s no bargain if it doesn’t do the job!
Added Solar Attic Fans Don’t Improve Comfort
Some companies supplement the insufficient action of the radiant heat barrier with solar attic fans. Unfortunately, when your attic has poor insulation and is not sealed properly, these attic fans can circulate dust, pest waste, mold and pollen into your living areas and suck expensive cooled air out. These pollutants can really impact your home’s indoor air quality and make family members feel sick. Most folks don’t realize how their attic can affect a healthy home environment.
Solution: Seal it Tight & Insulate it Right!
Radiant barrier installations sound great, but they often don’t keep hot, humid air from affecting your home’s comfort. Radiant barrier companies offer a band-aid solution to a problem that is much better solved with good building science. At True R-Value, we know that the best and most efficient way to improve your Austin home’s comfort is to “seal it tight and insulate it right!”