How Radiant Heat Impacts Energy Bills Year Round

April 6, 2015
niki dube

radiant heatHeat transfers in three different ways: convection, conduction, and thermal radiation. Convection heating moves through the air, like a blow dryer. Conduction occurs when one hot thing touches something else and makes it hot, like an iron. Thermal radiation involves electromagnetic waves. Think of someone with a radiant smile. The smile is contagious, not because it’s touching you or because it travels through the air like a sneeze. It just radiates.

The analogy is a bit of a stretch, but you get the general idea. Radiant heat is more about proximity. For example, when you get hot standing next to the oven, you’re experiencing radiant heat. You’re not touching the oven, and the heat isn’t being blown at you, but you still get hot. The sun has a similar effect on your home.

Radiant Heat In The Summer

In the summer, thermal radiation (i.e. radiant heat) is what causes your attic to become a den of sweltering. The sun bears down on the roof and heat from the sun is transferred to your attic. Without proper levels of insulation, it, in turn, transfers to the rest of your home, too.

Even with proper insulation on the floor of your attic, radiant heat can potentially affect your air conditioning by infiltrating the ductwork in your attic. When this happens, the air that comes out of your vents is not as cool as it would be without the impact of radiant heat and your air conditioner must work harder to achieve the desired results. When your air conditioner works harder, you end up paying more for the energy required to cool your home and for the maintenance and repairs of an overworked system. That adds up.

Radiant Heat In The Winter

In the winter, it happens in reverse. The heat in your ductwork transfers to your crawl space or attic, reducing the amount of heat that comes out of your vents. Once again, the system has to work harder to achieve the desired results and you pay.

A Radiant Barrier

So what’s a DC homeowner to do? Create a radiant barrier using something like foil facing. A radiant barrier serves as a force field of sorts to keep heat from transferring via thermal radiation. For example, placing foil facing just beneath the beams at the top of your attic causes the radiant heat from the roof to reflect back outside, keeping your attic cooler and your energy bills lower. Insulating your ductwork also helps to prevent radiant heat and the increased energy costs associated with it.

You want your heating and cooling systems to function more like a sniper rifle than a machine gun, placing conditioned air exactly where you want it rather than blowing it everywhere in hopes it hits the target eventually.

For professional assistance with the installation of a radiant barrier, contact the insulation professionals at Max Insulation. Insulation’s what we do. It keeps your home environment comfortable and conserves energy usage at the same time.