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Installing radiant barrier/reflective insulation or batt and roll insulation will depend on many factors. One of the most important might be budget. The average cost to install radiant barrier or batt insulation is between $968 and $2,138 but can vary depending on the size of your space and where you’re having the insulation installed. Whereas radiant barrier is best suited to attics, batt and roll insulation can be great for walls and other tight spaces. It’s important to keep factors like that in mind when choosing between the two. Here are more considerations you should keep in mind before installing one or the other.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, residential radiant barriers are installed in attics for two primary purposes: to help homeowners lower air conditioning costs and to lessen the impact of summer heat. Whether a homeowner or a contractor installs reflective insulation, the cost for this project ranges from inexpensive to moderate.
This type of energy-efficient upgrade consists of a combination of a metal foil installed on an attic's ceiling, over rafters, with radiant barriers. As the sun shines on a home's roof, its radiant energy heats the roof. As the roof warms up, the heat can travel through the home's attic, onto the attic floor and through the attic’s air ducts. When a radiant barrier is installed along with reflective insulation, the barrier helps the roof reflect the sun’s heat, and the insulation slows the progression of any absorbed heat. To maximize cooling efficiency, the system must include an air gap between the reflective surface and the roof’s interior.
Cost to Install Radiant Barriers and Reflective Insulation
For one-sided standard foil with a measurement of 1,500 square feet, installation costs on average between $300 and $500. A larger and more complex project can cost anywhere between $600 and $2,000, due to increased labor needs.
A roll of one-sided foil can cost as little as 10 to 25 cents per square foot, or between $150 and $375 for 1,500 square feet of foil. Dual-sided foil barriers can cost anywhere from 15 to 50 cents per square foot, which is about $225 to $750 for a roll measuring 1,500 square feet.
Benefits of Radiant Barriers and Reflective Insulation
As the U.S. Department of Energy and the Florida Solar Energy Center indicate, homeowners can enjoy many benefits of reflective insulation. Homeowners who reside in hotter climates can see air conditioning bills as much as 10 percent lower, especially when air conditioning ducts are located in the attic. Homeowners in cooler climates also notice energy savings from this form of insulation, since a foil barrier can block as much as 95 percent of heat before it reaches the insulation. With radiant barriers and reflective insulation in place, homeowners can take advantage of their attics for storage, thanks to smaller temperature fluctuations.
Adding a radiant barrier also gives homeowners noticeable financial savings on heating and cooling bills. Homeowners in Miami and Austin, for instance can save an average of $120 per year on their energy bills. Even homeowners in Fargo can save an average of $15 per year with the same upgrade. If these residents upgrade to R19 insulation, savings can increase to $180, $240 and $300 respectively.
Blanket insulation comes in the form of batts or rolls and consists of flexible fibers, commonly known as fiberglass. The most common insulation material, fiberglass is used in both batt and roll insulations. As the name implies, this material is constructed from tiny pieces of glass fiber. While low-density insulation exists, medium- and high-density insulation options provide higher R-values. Fiberglass insulation also works well for areas with little space for insulation, such as cathedral ceilings.
Blanket insulation can also be made with wool, plastic and organic fibers like cotton. Homeowners can purchase batt and roll insulation with or without facing, which helps with moisture and air defense. Some types of batt insulation also have fire resistant features. The most common R-value for batt and roll insulation is between R-3 and R-4 per inch.
The cost to install this type of insulation varies, depending on the home's location, the amount of labor necessary and ancillary supplies. A standard insulation project requires about 535 square feet of insulation, which averages $145 to $200. Along with miscellaneous supplies like tape, cutters and fasteners, the cost of labor averages $170 to $420 for a complete installation.
Homeowners can choose from many types of batt and rolled insulation for residential uses. Keep in mind that roll insulation is available in a rolls, whereas batts come in pre-cut sections.
Made to fit in between joists and studs, rolled insulation is available in lengths that range from 20 to 40 feet, making it better suited to insulate areas such as attics, flooring and other spaces with long spans.
Batt insulation is better suited to fitting right into spaces. It can be a good option on and in walls, floors, ceilings and attics, rafters and trusses within attics.
Batt insulation may also be covered with paper or aluminum exterior layers, which act as a vapor, air or dual barrier. This type of insulation can also have optional flame-retardant coverings for exposed insulation.
Batt insulation can be used in any unfinished wall, including the foundation. Floors and ceilings can also benefit from batt insulation.
Thanks to its low price, homeowners can install insulation themselves or hire contractors to install in between joists, beams and studs during new construction or a home renovation.
An R-value refers to insulation’s ability to resist the flow of heat. Insulation with a higher R-value provides more heat resistance per inch of thickness. Homeowners can choose from a variety of R-values, thicknesses and price points, depending on their insulation needs.
R-values range from 11 to 38. The cost for batt and roll insulation starts at $0.12 to $0.16 per square foot for a three-and-a-half-inch barrier that provides a value of R-11. The cost of a single roll of reflective insulation varies according to its R-value. Typically, the cost averages $0.25 to $0.75 per square foot and comes in rolls up to 40 feet long.
Up to 70 percent of a home's energy usage comes from heating and cooling. Heat naturally flows from warm areas to cool ones. It enters the home primarily from the roof during the warmer months and leaves through the roof during the colder months. Therefore, the roof and attic are some of the most important areas to insulate.
Insulation can play a major role in contributing to lower energy costs and increased comfort. Before jumping in and adding insulation throughout the home, though, be sure to consider the following:
What part of the home would most benefit from insulation?
What R-value will provide the best insulation?
What type of insulation is best for this project?
How much insulation is necessary for the space?
As heat naturally flows from areas of warmth to cold, and the roof and ceiling is the primary area where heat enters the home during the warmer months and leaves during the colder months, the primary area to insulate is the roof and attic areas.
Homeowners seeking to install insulation must take additional factors into account. Before starting an insulation project, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends first assessing what level of insulation, if any, exists in the project area.
First, determine the quality of any existing insulation.
If southern U.S. homes already have insulation with a value of R-30 and central and northern U.S. homes already have R-38 insulation, no additional insulation is necessary.
if the existing insulation is rated at R-19 or less than the recommended R-value for the space, consider adding more insulation.
Next, determine the location of heating and cooling air ducts and assess how well they are sealed. Repairing leaks or resealing air ducts can contribute significantly to year-round energy savings.
No matter the season or location, homeowners looking to increase their home’s energy efficiency should consider upgrading their home’s insulation. Installing the right insulation type and thickness can help keep residents warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Adequate insulation can also contribute to lower heating and cooling bills and a more environmentally friendly home. Though installing insulation can be a DIY project, it’s also easy to call in a professional by finding a local insulation contractor.