If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The Minnesota Department of Commerce and Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) are warning Minnesotans to beware of salespeople who pitch radiant barrier products as an energy-saving feature in home attics. The high-pressure sales pitch is often made in conjunction with a free dinner.
“Radiant barriers are not a cost-effective way to reduce heating or cooling loads in Minnesota,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “Radiant barriers in attics may be valid for homes in southern states, but they save very little energy in Minnesota homes. They are not a good energy investment and can be a very bad deal for Minnesota homeowners.”
Radiant barriers consist of a reflective film, usually aluminum, laid 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. However, their potential benefit is primarily in reducing air-conditioning cooling loads in hot climates and in buildings with little or no existing insulation.
The U.S. Department of Energy and Minnesota Department of Commerce agree that, in Minnesota, air sealing your home and adding conventional attic insulation are considerably cheaper and much more effective for saving energy than installing a radiant barrier. In fact, as attic insulation levels increase, the potential benefits from a radiant barrier decrease.
Scheduling a home energy assessment is an excellent first step to identifying cost-effective energy improvements. For more information or to arrange a home energy audit, contact Lake Region Electric Cooperative at (800) 552-7658.