When it comes to our making the move towards a greener existence many peoples first thoughts focus on solar panel electric and solar thermal systems, or wind turbine generators. However, unless you have taken firm control of your home or businesses energy efficiency with respect to the entire building it really doesn’t do much good to use renewable energy systems. This would make about as much sense as having never given your automobiles engine a tuneup with new spark plugs, plug wires or filters and thinking that starting to run premium gasoline will give you better gas mileage. Homes and businesses have many inefficiencies that must first be corrected making them far more energy efficient before any renewable energy system installations are planned.
Heating, cooling, lighting and wise electrical usage are the primary culprits in these inefficiencies on which we will focus our attention. A well insulated building is a great place to start but what about your air ducts or water pipes? Although many homeowners always check to make sure they have a well insulated attic space very few know the importance of sealing that insulation with radiant barrier. Radiant barrier is a thin film material that resembles aluminum foil sheeting and the effect it can have on the energy consumption of your heating/cooling systems can be very dramatic. The temperatures of an attic space without radiant barrier can exceed 150F degrees during winter months. This temperature is a combination of the heat within your home escaping into the attic coupled with that of the suns heat penetrating your roof and while this might not sound so bad in the winter when outdoor temperatures are much colder, the effects during the summer months can be enormous.
During summer months when you want cooler temperatures in your home you simply turn down your thermostat and the air conditioner kicks on but how often is your air conditioner kicking on to maintain that temperature? More importantly, where did all the cooler air that your air conditioner had already created go? Quite simply it was warmed by the trapped super heated air that is seeping in from your attic because there is no attic ventilation or radiant barrier in place to keep this radiant thermal heat out of the building in the first place. Sealing your attics joists and gable ends with radiant barrier sheeting will greatly reduce this effect and installing a solar powered attic vent fan will keep the heat completely out of the attic. A cooler attic space equates to a cooler home, fewer hours of operation for your air conditioning system while keeping your roof shingles much cooler which of course will extend the life of both and lower energy bills as a result.
By applying radiant barrier to your home or businesses air ducts and hot water pipes you now have taken more control over heating and cooling thermal losses that would otherwise be uncontrollably driving your energy costs up. There are many forms of insulation currently on the market that in fact use radiant barrier as part of the backing constructed into their design and manufacturing and nearly all new homes being constructed today employ them as part of the green requirements currently in force nationally. However, if you have an older home in need of updates in energy efficiency this would definitely be something you should give serious thought to installing as part of your renovations.