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Radiant Barriers and Attics

The Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources (DER), has received several questions from Minnesota residents regarding the purchase and installation of radiant barriers in attics. Vendors of this technology are pitching their products to consumers in mailers and inviting them to presentations to learn more. Consumers, in turn, are looking to DER for guidance.

DER encourages consumers to conduct careful and thorough research before investing in any energy-efficiency technology or improvement for their home. The benefits associated with many such products can vary depending on a number of factors, including the unique characteristics of a consumer's home and the climate in which the consumer resides.

Radiant barriers consist of a reflective film installed over the top of attic insulation in existing homes. They are sold as an energy-saving product, with claims of significant reductions in both heating and cooling costs. An Oak Ridge National Laboratory study concludes that attic radiant barriers are not an effective way to reduce heating or cooling loads in Minnesota. The test further concludes that adding conventional attic insulation would be a much better option for saving energy. In fact, as the attic insulation level increases, the study says, the potential benefits from a radiant barrier decrease.

For more information on insulation and other energy-efficient measures to improve your home, contact us at 800-657-3710 or 651-539-1886 or visit Find free downloadable home energy guides, including "Home Insulation" and "Home Envelope."