A. David Beal, building scientist at the Florida Solar Energy Center, responds: In cooling climates, radiant barriers can and do save cooling energy. Testing at the Florida Solar Energy Center and other laboratories have consistently shown that a radiant barrier can reduce the amount of heat entering a home through the ceiling by 25 to 40 percent. The amount of energy saved depends on the level of conventional insulation in the attic. For those with a thick layer of attic insulation, a 40% reduction in the small amount of heat coming through the ceiling is correspondingly small. For those with minimal attic insulation, on the other hand, a 40% reduction in heat flow through the ceiling is a much larger amount.

Two rules of thumb:

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