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Radiant barriers have received a great deal of attention in the past two years, some good, some bad. To their credit, radiant barriers significantly reduce cooling loads in both new and existing houses. However, the performance claims, installation recommendations, and sales tactics of some manufacturers have been questioned. Quite a battle has been brewing between Energy Design Update, the leading newsletter on energy-efficient building technology, and the National Energy Specialists Association (NESA), a trade association representing the radiant barrier industry. I'll try to sort through some of the controversy and provide useful information of when, where, and how to use radiant barriers. What is a Radiant Barrier? A radiant barrier is a layer of shiny foil installed next to an air space