A reflective material — either lightweight foil or painted-on reflective coating — applied to the attic ceiling or between rafters limits heat buildup by reflecting solar energy coming through the roof, reducing summer attic temperatures and stress on your HVAC system.
“Our air conditioning bills were outrageous,” says Beck, who paid $9,000 for the job, which cost more than average because of the large attic in his ranch home. “This is going to take a long time to pay for itself, but in the long run our bills will be lower.”
He’s already noticed more comfortable temperatures and expects to see the payoff on utility bills within five years, considering he also replaced his HVAC system with a high-efficiency heat pump.
John Meeks, owner AppleBlossom Energy, an energy auditing and efficiency contractor based in Harrisburg, says recent improvements make radiant barriers a growing market.
“It’s something we recommend to homeowners in our region, unless they have huge trees and a lot of shading,” says Meeks, whose company primarily installs the spray-on coatings.
Though slightly less effective than foil, spray-on radiant barrier coatings can cover more area or hard-to-reach pitches. The two types generally differ in emissivity — how much radiant energy it lets through — by less than 10 percent.