Reflective Insulation - Cold Climate Study

In an earlier blog post this week, we stated "Provided your barn is not in a sub-artic climate, foil insulation keeps heat out in the summer months and keeps heat in during the winter months".

We wanted to get back to the discussion of radiant barrier technology in sub-artic climates. The topic has been researched and tests have been completed. The CCHRC or Cold Climate Housing Research Center has produced a literature piece, Reflective Insulation in Cold Climates of their findings.

CCHRC concludes that for well-insulated buildings in cold climates, the use of reflective insulation adds very little to the overall R-value of the building envelope.

At InsulationStop, we could not agree more. It is worth the explanation as to why the CCHRC's findings are fairly obvious though. First, they compared a well insulated building in determining the results.

The more insulated a building is, the less impact adding additional insulation has. This is the same for changing to reflective insulation or adding more of the existing insulation. We would expect these results to be obvious. The law of diminishing returns states that the more insulation you add, your increases will become less significant.

In contrast, more temperate climates such as in the continental US, adding reflective insulation in your barn in Illinois for instance when there is no existing insulation can be an excellent, low cost option. Or in central Texas, when attic temperatures are over 140°F in the summer, radiant barriers are almost a guarantee.

In summary, it's important to look at your climate and how it influences your heating and cooling needs. Reflective insulation is still useful in all climates wherever you want to stop radiant heat transfer although we agree probably less in Alaska, in already well insulated buildings. Here's a link to their radiant barrier cold climate study.

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