How much can I save on my energy bill by adding a radiant barrier?
This is a question we get often but it's hard to answer because energy savings are usually a comprehensive situation. Truth be told, anyone promising a certain amount of savings without fully seeing your specific application area should raise some concern. Too often the benefits are oversold and many people wind up confused and leery of believing radiant barrier actually works.
It does work.
How well it converts in to energy savings however, is a different matter. In some cases just adding a radiant barrier might save a good percentage, while in other instances it might only save a small percentage. Radiant barrier should be part of a comprehensive effort to make a home more energy efficient. The key to energy savings is really in regulating heat gain/heat loss. This can be done with a radiant barrier, but other improvements can also be made to help this. Weatherstripping, air sealing, window replacement or window tinting, duct sealing, etc. all contribute to controlling heat transfer.
Reducing the amount of heat coming in to a home (or building) in the summer months can make a big impact on comfort first, then on energy; reducing the amount of heat gain means less air conditioning is needed to cool off the inside. Oftentimes the air conditioning runs all day, even after the sun has gone down, because of how much heat the home has absorbed. Radiant barrier keeps the home from absorbing that heat, so it stays cooler easier and the stress on the air conditioning unit is lowered. The same basic principle is true in the winter months as well. Heat loss occurs because the heat inside wants to escape from your home and you continually run the heater to keep the home from getting cold. If you were able to keep more heat inside the home, you'd spend less money because you wouldn't be constantly replacing lost heat! These two applications (summertime and wintertime) are the main way that radiant barrier effects energy consumption.
What are realistic savings?
Savings average over a wide range, which we explain in more detail on our page: Expected Savings When Adding a Radiant Barrier. Keep in mind that radiant barrier is not a substitute for traditional insulation; both regular insulation AND a radiant barrier work together to give you the best possible results.
Saving in Katy, Texas
This customer sent in her electric bill from August 2012.
Here is what she had to say about her bill: "We installed [radiant barrier] a couple of years ago and our electric bill lowered to never much over $200 in the heat of summer. Pretty good, I recommended it highly, but [it] didn't have me dancing. A couple of months ago we had to re-shingle our roof, so we added a ridge vent. With the two in place, our AUGUST in TEXAS electric bill was $132.00! WOO HOO, I'm dancing now. Surprisingly,we need more insulation, so this speaks highly to the pairing of [radiant barrier] with [proper ventilation]. Thank you soooo much. It was a little work getting the [radiant barrier] put up, but well worth it. We have a lake/weekend/retirement home where we haven't put up the AtticFoil Radiant Barrier...the electric bill there was more than our full time home."
Saving in Glen Allen, Virginia
Here we have an example of a consumer in Virginia who has traditional insulation on his attic floor and he added a radiant barrier both on his rafters (because he had storage and an HVAC unit in his attic) as well as on his floor (to maximize his winter time heat retention). He was generous enough to share his energy bills (one from 2011 and one the following year in the same month) to demonstrate his particular savings. Below are the bills, side by side (2011 on the top, 2012 on the bottom).
*June 2011 was the month he installed AtticFoil® radiant barrier foil in his attic space.
Some information about his particular installation, to help you put his savings and energy usage in perspective: