Radiant Barrier Insulation Blog - InsulationStop.com

  • Attic Radiant Barrier Calculator

    Attic Radiant Barrier CalculatorAn attic radiant barrier is designed to reduce the amount of energy flow from the roof deck to the attic floor in the home attic environment, which thereby also reduces the temperature in the attic. Ideally, they're designed to reduce heat loss in the winter time and minimize heat gain in the summer time, which have a direct effect on heating and cooling costs.

    The million-dollar question that most homeowners have when the topic comes up is, simply, do I need a radiant barrier? In other words, will a radiant barrier help with heating and cooling costs, which are seemingly always on the increase?

    It's a tough question to answer without knowing more about your specific attic and city climate in order to get a good feel for whether or not it would be worth it to have one installed. But now, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (the Tennessee Department of Energy lab that is also home to many of the world's most powerful supercomputers) has developed a tool to help you gauge whether or not a radiant barrier would make sense in your home.

    Oak Ridge has put together a simple radiant barrier calculator and it only takes a few minutes for users to fill out their information to get a good read on things. Here is how it works:

    • Step 1: Select a climate zone on the interactive map or choose from one of seven listed cities to decide on an area of the country that best reflects the type of climate you live in.
    • Step 2: Enter the square footage of your attic floor size.
    • Step 3: Select the type of attic insulation you have.
    • Step 4: Detail the ductwork in the attic.

    After you enter the information about your attic, all that's left to be done is click the "calculate" button on the bottom of the page. After the calculations have been made, you will be shown the approximate savings per square feet of attic, both with and without adding insulation (if applicable) as well as the approximate savings after one, six and 20 years.

    Pretty simple, huh? It's a lot of good, thorough information that you can attain in just a few short steps.

    It should not come as much of a surprise that the homes that yield the best savings are those that are southern located with unconditioned or conditioned HVAC installs, poor insulation and ducts in the attic. Here are the details for a hypothetical home in a Miami, FL-based climate, with a 2,000 square foot attic floor, less than R-30 insulation and ducts present in the attic:

    • Savings of 9 cents per square foot with a radiant barrier.
    • Savings of 11 cents per square foot with a radiant barrier and insulation.

    That is a total of $180 and $220 per year, respectively - seemingly well worth the investment of installing a radiant barrier.

    Conversely, a Minneapolis-based home, with quality attic insulation, a 2,000 square foot attic floor and no ducts in the attic would not yield any type of energy savings if a radiant barrier was added. Like we already noted, the homes that have the most to gain from adding a radiant barrier are those that are poorly insulated, have duct work and are also southern-based, where the weather plays more of a factor.

    So next time you are staring down your utility bills wondering why they are so high and thinking of possible solutions, you can get a good read on a very practical solution just by heading on over to ORNL.gov to calculate your approximate energy savings in the radiant barrier calculator.

  • Versatility of Reflective Insulation

    Reflective insulation permanently forms a dependable and effective barrier between the object it is sealing therby repelling damaging elements such as moisture, vapors, excessive heat and air currents. In addition, reflective insulation is the most affordable and best material to prevent infiltration by rodents, fungus, insects and harmful ultraviolet radiation that is often detrimental to animals, food and manufactured products.

    Outstanding Environmental, Health and Safety Benefits

    No special protective equipment or clothing is needed when handling reflective insulation. Non-toxic, clean and fire-retardant, it's versatility amazes long-time users who consistently discover additional applicatons for this functional, all-purpose insulation.

    Reflective insulation offers many benefits:

    • Dramatic reductions in energy costs
    • Lower investment costs required for purchasing heating, cooling and air circulation equipment
    • Reinforced to provide maximum durability and dependability
    • Tear and puncture resistant
    • Reflects over 97 percent heat or UV radiation
    • Lightweight and easy to handle. Conforms to any shape, size or areal configuration
    • Designated with a Class A/Class 1 fire rating
    • Meets nearly all local, federal and state building codes
    • Maintenance-free

    The Science of Radiant Barrier Insulation

    Instead of absorbing heat energy, reflective insulation reflects it. Unlike traditional insulation made from cellulose, rock wool, Styrofoam and fiberglass that simply absorbs or slow down conductive and convective heat transfer, reflective insulation performs a process of radiant heat transfer.

    Radiant heat transfer occurs when electromagnetic waves reach the infrared region of the electromagnetic scale.. Fireplace heat transferring to the other side of a room is an example of radiant heat transfer because no medium (such as metal, glass or other solid objects) is needed to initiate the transfer. In fact, any kind of material with a temperature exceeding absolute zero will emit some amount of radiant energy.

    Industrial Uses for Reflective Insulation

    The ability of reflective insulation to perform correctly in extreme temperatures makes it perfect for use in a variety of industrial settings involving:

    • Laboratories
    • HVAC Ducts
    • Pipes
    • Boilers
    • Tanks
    • Heatshields

    Reflective "bubble" insulation offers superior insulation values for hydraulic fracturing tanks, pumps, storage tanks containing volatile, temperature-sensitive chemicals (gas, oil, toxic waste) and boilers operating in enclosed areas. By preventing radiant heat transfer through industrial equipment with reflective insulation, energy costs are significantly reduced and the comfort level for individuals working around industrial equipment is optimized and sustained.

    When used in HVAC settings, reflective insulation excels in controlling heat transfer, eliminating infrared and UV rays and preventing damage to sensitive equipment in storage. Reflective insulation is also an effective sealant for minor compromises in HVAC equipment and is much safer for workers to apply than fibrous, irritating fiberglass that can be inhaled into the lungs.

    Agricultural Uses for Reflective Insulation

    • Post Frame Construction/Pole Barns
    • Chicken Coops/Incubators
    • Metal Buildings
    • Livestock Trailers

    A vital aspect of sustainability involves constructing a building envelope to maximize environmental control of variously sized spaces with barriers, interior finishes and insulation. Maintaining a healthy environment for livestock, livestock feed and agricultural equipment means the difference between enjoying a thriving and profitable operation or paying for losses incurred by excessively hot structures conducive to the development of mold, fungal, rodent and insect infestations.

    Applications associated with agricultural use include pipe insulation, water heater covers, equipment sheds, cold storage units and all new/existing structures.

    Shipping Uses for Reflective Insulation

    • Protects cargo that is sensitive to slight temperature changes: (ice cream, fruit, candy, cigarettes, vegetables, dairy, meat, pharmaceuticals, coffee) from heat and moisture damage.
    • Insulating reefers and railroad cars carrying cargo vulnerable to extreme temperatures and humidity levels greatly reduces unnecessary overhead costs resulting from spoiled or damaged cargo.
    • Using reflective insulation as box liners eliminates the possibility of condensation forming and creating an environment promoting mold, mildew and fungus growth.
    • Items packed in thermal bags insulated with reflective insulation remain fresh, useable and ready for use upon delivery.

    During a shipping transfer, the potential for damage due to accidents or rough handling always exists. Unlike traditional insulation that degrades in performance if smashed, pinched, exposed to moisture or otherwise disturbed, reflective insulation maintains its ability to protect items from fluctuating temperatures of excessive moisture regardless of compaction.

    Food Service Uses for Reflective Insulation

    Probably no industry needs the advantages afforded by reflective insulation than the food industry. Billions of dollars are lost every year by food service businesses because of rotting food and compensation to consumers who file lawsuits because they became seriously ill due to eating spoiled food. .

    Reflective insulation can be used for:

    • Protecting foods during transportation
    • In commercial kitchens for flame retardant purposes
    • As insulation to reduce energy costs of running freezers and coolers
    • In commercial ovens to prevent fires and sustain optimal equipment condition
    • As insulation for delivery bags to help maintain even temperatures of cooked or uncooked food
    • As an effective protective wrapping for all kinds of packaged foods

    Automotive / RV Uses for Reflective Insulation

    Radiant barrier insulation not only maximizes energy efficiency and thermal performance of RVs but also helps regulate internal temperatures to improve passenger comfort. Unlike thick, bulky, traditional insulation, reflective insulation is thin, flexible and ideal for implementing into the thin walls of RV roofs.

    When restoring vehicles, one major concern is finding sound muffling insulation that doesn't damage the vehicle's fragile body in the long term. Using jute-backed, cotton or foam insulation may result in deterioration of vehicle areas due to moisture build-up. In addition, because reflective insulation stops nearly 98 percent of radiant heat transfer, it is the perfect insulation for lining engine covers in RVs and for reinforcing firewalls.

    Reflective insulation is also a superior sound deadener that muffles loud road noise and vibrating engines. NASCAR and the International Race of Champions (IROC) use reflective insulation in race cars not only to inhibit noise but as a dependable flame retardant material.

    Easily cut using a pair of scissors, reflective insulation keeps UV rays from damaging the interior of vehicles, RVs, campers and even private airplanes. Just attach a piece of this versatile material to the interior side of a window and attach using removable adhesive strips.

    Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Uses for Reflective Insulation

    • Modular Buildings
    • Canvas Buildings, Yurts
    • Heat Shields
    • Spas / Saunas
    • Coolers / Food Service Bags

    Reflective insulation offers numerous solutions to problems involving heat control entities that are difficult to regulate. Many OEMs must meet or exceed local, state or federal requirements regarding heat and temperature control of inhabited environments within enclosed spaces. Reflective insulation helps conform to these requirements that, unless met, could result in a OEM operation suffering a mandated shutdown and huge losses in revenue.

    Survival Gear

    Many survival gear items integrate reflective insulation into their construction. Blankets, tarps, tents and backpacks designed for wilderness survival or for survival after a catastrophe contain reflective insulation. Stockpiling vacuum-packed or freeze-dried foods wrapped in reflective insulation can keep them fresh and safe for years. Preparing MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) using reflective insulation is a convenient and economical method of preparing enough food to stockpile in the event of a disaster situation.

    Additional Applications of Reflective Insulation

    • Crawl spaces
    • Basement walls
    • Garage doors
    • Animal kennels
    • Driveway snow melts
    • Concrete slabs
    • Air conditioner covers
    • Wine rooms
    • Work shops
    • Window sill sealer
    • Horticulture/greenhouse
  • Top 3 Benefits of Insulating Your Crawlspace

    InfraStop® Double Bubble Crawlspace Insulation

    If you are looking for a way to improve the comfort of your home and protect it from the elements, insulating your crawlspace is the right thing to do. Fortunately, there are multiple benefits to improving these dynamic areas of your house. Look to the following advantages when deciding on whether to upgrade your crawlspaces.

    Critter Protection

    One of the best parts about insulation is that it can keep critters from entering your home, which is positive for you and your loved ones. Whether it's roaches, spiders or mice, it is important to keep pests from turning your house into a breeding ground. No one likes to unwanted critters in their kitchen pantry or on their bathroom floor. By properly insulating your crawlspace, you're more likely to keep unwanted bugs and pests out of your living spaces.

    Energy Efficiency

    Insulation also helps retain heat in your floors, which is important during the wintertime and can cut down on your utility bills. Whether you have vented or unvented crawlspaces, adding insulation greatly improves the way your home uses energy. Double-bubble foil insulation is an ideal crawlspace insulation because of its high thermal performance in crawlpsaces and that this performance is not affected by moisture which is vital in any crawlspace application.

    Structural Protection

    Adding a protective layer of insulation also shields vital materials and structures within your home. It can keep mold from forming by keeping moisture out. Mold can pose serious health hazards to you and your family members, so keeping it out of your crawlspaces is a priority. Structural damage to your home can cost a lot of money and if it is bad enough you will need to hire a qualified contractor to repair and damages. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure in this case. If you want to increase the value of your home and protect it from the elements, then insulating your crawlspaces is the way to go. The benefits of this upgrade will make your home more comfortable, safe, and efficient.

  • InfraStop® Post Frame Building Insulation - A Customer's Project

    InfraStop® post frame building insulation in action.  Take a look at this collection showcasing a customer's project.  This 4500 square foot post frame building was constructed in Southern New Jersey, about 45 minutes from Philadelphia.  InfraStop® double bubble foil insulation was used.

    For the roof, InfraStop® was installed over the trusses and above the purlins, then the metal roofing was installed.  For the walls, InfraStop® was installed on the outside of the girts and then the metal siding was installed.

    Click here for more information on the various application methods for installing post frame and pole barn insulation whether you have a new or existing building.

  • Can you use Reynolds Wrap Aluminum Kitchen Foil as Attic Insulation?

    The jury is still out but we are getting a little closer to an answer!

    Well, we heard some folks were doing this, installing Reynolds wrap aluminum kitchen foil in their attic to block radiant heat and we wanted to learn more. So almost 4 years ago, June 2010 we put out a blog post offering a free roll of insulation for anyone who would share details of insulating an attic with Reynolds wrap kitchen foil. Out of nowhere EJ contacted us a week ago and wanted to redeem the free product offer.

    Below (in italics) is the description of why he chose to insulate his attic with kitchen foil instead of a radiant barrier. After reading the email, it is clear that EJ understands exactly how reflective insulation works. Although we would stick with our insulation, we now understand why someone would think to pursue the kitchen foil route.

    Thank you EJ for submitting this. Please visit and comment on how the kitchen foil is working as well as the radiant barrier we are sending.

    "Here are a few pictures I took with my phone. The foil's shine confuses my camera's flash. I'm a retired engineer, I have a HVAC master license and have alot experience with energy audits. This part of my house was built in 1954. About 10 years ago we did a spray in radiant barrier Low/mit-2 and insulated to R-38. This helped considerably with overall electrical usage and temperature variances in the house.

    5 years ago we added on an additional 1800 square feet. The newer tighter construction reveals some deficiencies in the old house. What bugs me most is how quickly the bedrooms heat up. I was doing more research on radiant barrier exterior paint additives and started reading about the advantages of foil (and its air gap) vs. paint on barrier. I believe low/mit-2 tests at 77% reflectance vs. foil at 98%. While this is a significant difference, in my situation of already having a paint on barrier I felt the payback in upgrading to a true foil barrier like yours might be too far down the road. However I saw little harm in buying several rolls of kitchen foil and spending an afternoon crawling through my attic. It hasn't been hot long enough this year for comparison.

    From experience and theory I'm sure there will be some gains from the channeling and convection effect of the foil and my ridge vent. I would wager there might even be a slightly better advantage with your product because of your bubble wrap you do have a slight R-value keeping the roof side air warmer that should cause a better drafting effect. I did my foil job in March, and just found your site via google in May while looking around to see if anyone else has tried the kitchen foil idea." 

    Thanks! EJ (name changed pursuant to privacy policy)

  • Keep Perishable Foods Fresh and Always Ready for Purchase with Reflective Foil Insulation

    Farmer's Market in ArizonaFruits and vegetables need warmth and sunlight to thrive--that is, until they are harvested and removed from the tree, vine or plant that was keeping them alive.

    Once picked and readied for shipment, fresh foods become vulnerable to even the slightest rise in temperature. People operating farmer's markets or in the business of shipping fresh foods to remote locations know how quickly bacteria can destroy fruits, vegetables and meat that is not kept thoroughly chilled. Fortunately, packaging dilemmas concerning the safe shipment of fresh foods can be solved with reflective foil insulation.

    Avoid Unnecessary Costs and Waste with Reflective Bubble Foil

    When you use our reflective insulation, you can ship any perishable items with confidence and know that it will arrive to its destination fresh, delicious and safe. In addition to being non-toxic and recyclable, reflective foil insulation also offers these advantages over non-reflective packaging materials:

    • Thermal value properties
    • Prevents odors from transferring to other foods
    • Ensures that fresh products retain their natural taste, color and quality
    • Substantial reduction in warehousing and freight expenditures
    • Reflective foil insulation is easily fitted to any size packaging container and requires minimal handling.

     

    How Quickly Can Food Spoil?

    It only takes an hour for packaged fresh food to start spoiling under the right conditions.

    Fresh food starts spoiling as soon as the interaction of moisture, heat, oxygen and bacterial growth creates conditions ripe for food to start rotting. Bacteria called "facultative anaerobes" thrive everywhere regardless of oxygen content while toxic molds need a minimal amount of oxygen to develop. Spoilage also occurs when negligible changes in humidity affect fresh foods that have been improperly packaged. Photodegradation, or spoilage due to light, causes fresh foods to lose their nutritional value, attractive color and natural good taste as well. Consumers will always avoid purchasing discolored food even though the discoloration does not mean the food is spoiled.

    Give Your Customers the Delicious, Home-Grown Foods They Want

    Eliminate costs associated with losing fresh foods to damage or spoilage due to appropriate packaging practices by protecting perishable food with affordable, easy-to-use reflective foil insulation. Customers will love the taste and appearance of your fresh fruits and vegetables wrapped in reflective foil and you will enjoy saving on overhead expenditures related to food lost to spoilage during transport.

  • Helping Your Animals Handle Heat Stress

    Heat Stress App Heat Stress App

    After the difficulties of the cold winter months, animal producers are glad that frigid weather is over for now. However, the weather patterns will soon be swinging to the other extreme when the blazing heat of summer arrives.

    Heat Stress in Animals

    Extremely hot temperatures are just as dangerous for animals as extremely cold temperatures can be. Those who raise pigs, chickens, and cattle must be aware of the effects of hot temperatures and take precautions to cool their animals off when a heat wave arrives. Watching your animals closely when the mercury soars will help you determine when you need to step in.

    • Poultry: Chickens can't sweat, so they rely on panting to cool themselves. Their normal body temperatures range from 103 to 107 degrees Fahrenheit. If a chicken's temperature reaches 113 degrees, they are in serious trouble. However, even slight heat stress can cause chickens to stop laying eggs, stop eating, and produce inferior eggs. If they get too hot, they can die.
    • Pigs: Pigs are extremely sensitive to heat. Even getting overheated for as few as two to six hours can upset the digestive systems of pigs, leaving them vulnerable to infections. Additionally hot pigs don't eat, meaning that they won't gain weight. Taking too long to get to market weight will affect your farm's bottom line. Pigs can't sweat, so they have to pant or wallow in the mud to cool off.
    • Cattle: Cows, especially those with black hides, suffer tremendously in the heat. Their internal digestion generates heat as their rumen microbes break down their food. Hot cattle will demonstrate increased respiration, increased heart rate, and increased panting. They will not gain weight and lactating cows will produce much less milk when it is really hot.

    Tips for Preventing Heat Stress

    If you are a livestock or poultry producer, you must have a plan in place to combat heat stress. You could stand to lose hundreds or even thousands of dollars when the temperatures rise. Even if you don't lose an animal, they will be less productive when it's hot, meaning that you won't make as much money as you might otherwise. Therefore, you should consider using these strategies to keep your animals cooler during the hot months of summer.

    • Water: Having plenty of water is essential to keeping your animals comfortable on hot days. Make sure that there are several water stations so that dominant animals don't keep the less dominant animals from getting all that they need. You may want to add some electrolytes to the water to help the animals maintain the appropriate electrolyte balance.
    • Ventilation: If your animals are housed in barns, keep the air moving by using fans and opening every window and door that you can. If your barn is overcrowded, you may want to either find another place for some of your livestock or sell a few of your animals to help the rest of them stay cooler.
    • Insulation: Many people think of insulation only when it's cold. However, using reflective bubble insulation can block the transfer of radiant heat from the outdoors to the indoors. Using this kind of insulation on barns, calf hutches, water tubs, and chicken houses will keep your animals much cooler and more comfortable during a heat wave. This is a very inexpensive way to combat heat stress.

    Technology Aids

    For cattle producers, you may want to look into some technological advances to help monitor your animals. The University of Missouri has created an app called Thermal Aid to help cattle farmers monitor the effects of heat on their animals. With this app, you can input your cows' respiration. The app coordinates this information with current weather conditions to help you know when your animals need additional help in getting cool.

  • Radiant Barriers: The Next Level in Protecting Storage Spaces

    Storage Building with Collectable CarsWhen we think of storage, we think of protection. A storage space should keep our goods safe until we need them. Unfortunately, many storage areas lack one critical element, protective insulation.

    Storage buildings need to allow plenty of room for goods. As a result most are designed with thin roofs and walls with little or no insulation. Most storage facilities have metal roofs and walls, which can cause more temperature control problems. Metal easily conducts heat, allowing rooms to warm up faster on hot days, and chill quickly during cold spells. In addition, condensation often forms on metal surfaces when the temperature changes. This creates moisture that can drip on the goods stored within the structure.

    Whether you have a storage shed on your property, or use commercial storage spaces, you can easily add reflective insulation to protect your goods from the elements and extreme temperatures. Reflective insulation creates what is called a "radiant barrier" Traditional insulation, like the familiar pink fiberglass, absorbs heat. This slows heat flow into or out of a building, but will not block the sun's rays from entering a building.

    Reflective insulation consists of a shiny aluminum surface laid over plastic or other materials. The surface reflects radiant heat away from a building. As a result, the walls and roof of a storage facility will absorb significantly less radiant heat preventing extreme temperature changes within the storage space. The polyethylene backing material consists of bubble layers that also prevent conductive and convective heat flow into or out of the structure thereby helping to maintain a consistent temperature.

    Reflective insulation is a strong durable substance. It can be easily cut to fit a storage space, but will resist tearing once in space. Installation is easy, as the insulation can be attached with adhesive tape or glue, nails or even strong staples.

    Once in place, reflective insulation also resists moisture accumulation, helping keep goods dry. As goods are sheltered from heat, light and water, they are less likely to age prematurely, become discolored or be damaged by freezing and thawing cycles. Among its many advantages, reflective insulation can also:

    • Create a barrier to pests, rodents and vermin
    • Line freezer storage spaces to keep temperatures cold and save on energy costs
    • Provide an extra layer of insulation and protection in home storage areas like basements, crawlspaces, walk-in closets and attics.
  • Insulating Windows with Reflective Foil Insulation - A Simple Low Cost Solution

    InfraStop® Used for Window InsulationIt's a challenge for many homeowners to keep their homes cool in the summer time and warm in the winter time. But aside from creature comforts, there's also the issue of rising utility bills. In fact, for rooms in direct contact with the sun's rays, it's not uncommon for there to be a temperature swing of 20 degrees compared to rooms that are more shaded. Yes, homeowners can spend money on the likes of smart thermostats and expensive windows to stay comfortable - but there's the upfront cost involved in such actions, not to mention taking the chance that the expenditure will eventually pay off in energy savings.

    Then there's also more affordable, yet equally effective, measures such as window insulation - specifically that of the reflective kind. What is reflective window insulation? Simply put, it's highly reflective aluminum foil with a bubble core that's placed on a window which works to reflect the sun's light, rather than absorb it. Covering windows in the summer prevents heat from entering the home, thereby keeping it more comfortable. And this type of window insulation reflects heat from both the inside and the outside, so it's capable of preventing heat from escaping when applied during the winter months as well.

    Here's a look at some other benefits of reflective window insulation, compared to other energy-saving measures one can take around the home:

    • Reusable: This variety of window insulation can be taken down and reapplied whenever a homeowner chooses, meaning that it can be used year after year for long-lasting effectiveness.
    • Practical: While reflective window insulation may not be applicable for every room in your home - after all, you're likely going to want some sort of natural light entering the home regardless of the season - it's ideal for seldom used rooms, such as attics and guest bedrooms. It also works well in RV windows, car windows and more. You can even place the insulation on the rooftops to reflect the sun, which will also keep the home cooler.
    • Affordable: Just because it's worth mentioning again, reflective window insulation is a preferred energy saving solution for households that are on a budget. Rather than ponying up hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars for state-of-the-art products to maintain creature comforts, there's a comparably low upfront cost associated with this product, which makes it even more attractive.

    It's a fact that heating and cooling costs are rising and will likely only to continue to rise moving forward. But that doesn't mean that you can't do something about it. While there are several ways you can maintain creature comforts and keep energy costs manageable, reflective window insulation is one technology that is as practical as it is affordable.

  • Insulation: New Materials and Techniques Means There's Never Been a Better Time to Upgrade

    Aerogel InsulationWhen insulation works well, no one notices it. So it's not always top of mind when homeowners think of improvements and renovations. Still, there are many reasons to replace, upgrade or enhance insulation.

    New Materials that Meet Higher Standards

    Insulation in older homes, especially those built before 1980, usually fails to meet current recommendations for slowing heat flow through a building (manufacturers report this as the R-value on insulation materials).

    Fiberglass remains the most common insulation material, but modern installations use fiberglass tailored to provide an R-value for the home's climate, and designed to prevent air leaks that can make it more expensive to heat or cool a home. Installing upgraded fiberglass can help homeowners save between 5 and 50 percent on energy costs, depending on how efficient the previous insulation was.

    Recycled materials can provide similar effective insulation, and many homeowners appreciate the chance to install a green material in their homes. Denim, hemp and wool scraps from manufacturing are the most common recycled insulation materials.

    Cellulose-based insulating materials are made from soybeans and other plants. Cellulose is a flexible and easy to install material, since it can be found in both standard and spray-on versions.

    Polystyrene and similar plastics have made a name for themselves among insulating materials. Remarkably efficient, these premium insulation products offer high R-values with the convenience of spray-on applications that can help place the material in hard to reach corners of attics and roofs.

    Reflective materials, designed to complement existing insulation, are described in more detail below.

    Improved Installation Methods

    Not only do homeowners and contractors have a choice of materials, they now have additional flexibility in how to apply many of the materials.

    Blanket installation is quick and easy, perfect for do-it-yourselfers. This technique does have a couple of drawbacks however. Compressing the material to fit into tight spaces can reduce the efficiency, and the blanket sheets may not fit into tight corners or around structural supports.

    Applying loose-fill materials provides a better fit than the blanket technique. It's vitally important to apply materials consistently and to the correct depth, however, so this method is best left to professionals.

    Spray-on plastics can serve as a complete insulation, or be used in difficult areas where blanket or loose-fill techniques don't provide effective cover. Spray on insulation provides the tightest seal against air and moisture, so it helps block air and water leaks, as well as retain heat.

    Reflective Systems

    Reflective systems, or radiant barriers, add another layer of insulating protection, working in tandem with other materials. In summer, for instance, outside heat is absorbed by the insulating material in walls. Over time though, heat trapped by insulating material will warm up the air around it, and hotter air will gradually flow into the cooler air of the home. As a result, indoor temperatures rise and cooling systems have to work harder. The same process takes place in reverse during winter, as warm inside air flows to the cooler air outdoors.

    Reflective systems represent the next step in efficient insulation. Radiant heat reflects off the surface, so the underlying insulation does not warm as quickly. Rather than slowing heat flow, radiant barriers prevent a significant amount of heat from entering a building at all. Reflective insulation can help keep a building at a comfortable temperature and reduce energy use whether it uses central air, air conditioning or fans.

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