Heating and Cooling - Repair: Lower summer cooling costs with a do-it-yourself project

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(ARA) - When it comes to do-it-yourself projects that will save money on energy costs, many new products on the market make it possible to save hundreds of dollars over time, with just a few hours of easy installation.

Few of these products come close to the long-term benefits of installing a radiant barrier in your attic. There's even a federal tax credit (available on your 2010 federal tax return) to help you recoup a portion of your purchase price, saving you up to $1,500.

A radiant barrier works in your home similar to the way a reflective foil car shade works in your car. Just as a car shade keeps the interior of an auto cooler when it's parked in the sun, radiant barriers keep your home's interior cooler when installed in your attic where the sun's radiant energy is absorbed.

The Florida Solar Energy Center has conducted numerous studies on radiant barrier installation and found that, under peak daytime heat conditions, the total heat transfer allowed down through attics can be reduced by as much as 40 percent, which can significantly reduce a home air conditioning system's cooling loads.

Of course the design of your home makes a difference: Whether it is a one-story or two-story home, the home's age, the type of roof, whether your roof has shade, your HVAC system's efficiency, the type of insulation installed and local energy rates all contribute to your potential for individual cost savings.

The warmer months provide a good time for consumers to take advantage of the potential benefits of radiant barrier installation, according to Rick Jordan of EcoRite Products, a major radiant barrier manufacturer.

"I don't know of any product that is this easy to install that does as much for reducing the stress on your heating or cooling systems as a radiant barrier," Jordan says. "On average, attics that have radiant barriers installed are 30 degrees cooler than they were before the product was installed.
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That equates to a significant amount of heat that is not baking down through the ceiling of a home, causing the air conditioner to work harder."

Experts say the use of radiant barriers dates back at least 50 years, with some of the earlier concepts developed by NASA. Home builders and scientists have known for decades the benefits of foil-based radiant barriers. In recent years, green builders in particular have latched onto the concept, routinely specifying and installing radiant barrier products in the attics of the homes they build to help reduce the overall carbon footprint of the structures.

Universal Forest Products, one of the nation's largest building products companies, has created an entire division dedicated to products for do-it-yourself consumers. The company recently introduced an ENERGY STAR rated product, called Enerflex Radiant Barrier, that is easy enough for almost anyone to install, with no special tools required.

"Enerflex looks a lot like quilted aluminum foil. It is made of a durable, highly reflective, double-sided material that you install to the underside of a roof between the rafters. From an installation standpoint, it couldn't be easier," Jordan says. "There is no need to secure the product with adhesive, so installation moves quickly."

Jordan notes that the federal government offers a tax credit that's worth investigating. Qualified taxpayers can save 30 percent of the cost of installing a radiant barrier - up to $1,500 -through the American Recovery Tax Credit.

"Installing a radiant barrier should be viewed not so much an expense as an investment. Homeowners are paid back over time through lower utility bills, particularly in the summer, but wintertime savings can also be realized," Jordan says.

In the winter, a radiant barrier basically performs in reverse, helping to keep rising heat from the home's interior from escaping through the roof. Radiant barriers typically are twice as effective in the summer months as in winter months.

Enerflex Radiant Barrier is mold- and mildew-resistant, will not harbor insects, and is Class A fire rated. It's available at The Home Depot and from building material dealers nationwide. You can also find places to purchase Enerflex by visiting www.enerflexfoil.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent .

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