Do aluminum foil radiant barriers in an attic really work, and will they reduce my heating and cooling bills? – Murray

Hi Murray,

Radiant barriers work by reflecting the heat coming through your roof on sunny, summer days. Unlike fiberglass or cellulose insulation, radiant barriers do little to prevent the conduction of heat or cold through the air and have no R-value.

While not a substitute for traditional attic insulation, radiant barriers may reduce your air conditioning bill by 5% to 10% (according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy) if you live in a hot climate. Radiant barriers have little or no effect on cold air or heating bills in the winter.

There are several types of radiant barriers available, including:

  • Reflective metal roofing
  • Radiant roof sheathing
  • Metal (aluminum) foil

Foil radiant barriers can be applied on top of rafters in new construction before the roof sheathing is installed, or on the underside of rafters on houses with an existing roof.

Don’t install a radiant foil barrier on top of attic insulation, since condensation can form under it (even on perforated foil), resulting in a buildup of moisture, which can reduce the effectiveness of insulation and cause moisture damage and rot.


Further Information

Editorial Contributors
Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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