Other Approaches

There are a number of other approaches that are far more effective at reducing your home's energy consumption, and increasing your home's comfort, than radiant barriers. Contact a certified home energy professional to learn about one of the following options:

Attic Insulation

If you do not have HVAC equipment in your attic, adding insulation to your attic floor is one of the most cost-effective home energy improvements you can make. Think of your attic floor as your home's hat. Throughout the winter, the warm air inside your home rises and escapes through leaks in the attic floor (which is why you should be sure to pair any insulation upgrades with an air sealing job for maximum effectiveness), and through flimsy insulation into the attic, where it escapes. This process also creates a draft in your home, as air rushes into your home through leaks in the walls and the basement to make up for the lost warm air. 

Even if you already have insulation in your attic, there's a good chance that it was installed poorly, or that air leaks in your attic floor are rendering it ineffective (insulation doesn't work when air is allowed to rush through it, as most insulation products were not manufactured to serve as an air barrier). Consult a home energy professional to see if an attic insulation upgrade may be a good option for your home. 

Wall Insulation

Although your home may already have wall insulation, an upgrade may benefit your home's comfort and energy efficiency far more than a radiant barrier in your attic. Among building science professionals, it's a commonly acknowledged fact that the insulation in most existing homes was either improperly or insufficiently installed. This is largely because the fiberglass batts that are used to insulate many homes are very difficult to install properly, and unsuspecting builders will rush to install them without doing so to the manufacturers' specifications. 

A wall insulation upgrade can be a fairly quick and painless process. Home Performance professionals will typically identify where insulation in your walls is insufficient using a thermal imaging camera, and upgrade those areas by drilling a small hole in the exterior wall and filling the wall cavities with cellulose. Such an upgrade can be completed in a matter of days, and cause so little mess that you probably won't even be able to tell that they have been there. 

Air Sealing

Air sealing is one of the most important components of an energy efficient home. Most code-built homes are built without much attention being paid to the small gaps and cracks throughout the home that collectively add up to a whole lot of air leakage. In fact, it's not uncommon for the air leaks in a typical home to add up to the equivalent of a window being open year-round. Ouch. 

An air sealing upgrade by a qualified Home Performance team will focus on the air leaks that are most significant throughout your home - typically located in the crawlspace or basement, and in the attic. They can also identify other significant air leaks in your home using thermal imaging cameras, and target those hard-to-find leaks with caulk, weatherstripping, expanding foam, or another product suitable to the application that will not be an eyesore and will drastically improve your home's comfort and energy efficiency.

Duct Sealing

Sealing your ducts can have a significant impact on your home's energy consumption. Leaky ducts can waste energy by depositing conditioned air (heated air in the winter, cooled air in the summer) outside of your home's building envelope. This could be in the basement, the attic, or in exterior walls around your home, but the result is the same: air that's intended to enter the living space, not getting there. Consequently, your HVAC equipment has to work harder to make up for the lost air, and your home is less comfortable. 

Using a "duct blaster" to test duct leakage, a home energy professional can determine just how leaky your ducts are (many existing homes have very leaky ducts, although homeowners may be completely unaware of the fact), and whether you would benefit from a duct sealing upgrade.

HVAC Tuning & Upgrades

Furnaces, boilers and other HVAC equipment has come a long way in the last several decades. If you have an older system, it may be a cost-effective investment to upgrade to a newer, more efficient HVAC system. 

But even if you don't need a new system, many HVAC systems can benefit from a simple maintenance service. A qualified HVAC technician with energy efficiency experience, or a qualified home energy professional (such as a BPI certified professional with combustion safety testing experience) can determine whether your system could benefit from a tune-up -- typically a low-cost upgrade that may significantly improve your home's comfort.