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CONSTRUCTION PRODUCTS REVIEW: SUN BLOCK

Posted: Aug 30, 2011
By Jeffery Lee - When San Dimas, Califclip_image002 .-based North American Residential Communities began installing radiant barrier sheathing in its homes, the builder's managers noticed a difference in their workers' break-time habits. Employees used to eat their lunch in the shade of the homes they were building, but now they sit inside. When San Dimas, Calif.-based North American Residential Communities began installing radiant barrier sheathing in its homes, the builder's managers noticed a difference in their workers' break-time habits. Employees used to eat their lunch in the shade of the homes they were building, but now they sit inside. "The workers realized it was cooler inside the homes" with radiant barrier sheathing, says John Hellewell, director of purchasing for the company that builds about 300 houses a year. The change in the workers' habits showed off the benefits of radiant barrier roof sheathing, leading North American Residential Communities to install the product in every home the company builds. With energy costs and usage shooting up around the country, manufacturers say radiant barrier panel sales are taking off. Depending on the climate and energy use, homeowners can save up to 20 percent annually on their utility bills. "The homeowner can now get a return in about three years,". The sheathing, made of regular OSB or plywood panels with a layer of radiant barrier foil laminated to one side, blocks about 97 percent of the sun's radiant heat, reducing attic temperatures by around 30 degrees, manufacturers claim. Radiant barrier sheet works most effectively in homes where the air conditioning unit and ductwork are in the attic, such as in concrete slab homes in the South. "It takes the heat load off of the ductwork and air handler, so it allows your air conditioner to run that much less," Carroll says. It also reduces wear and tear on the unit, allowing it to last longer. New building codes are one of the biggest factors driving the growth of radiant barriers. Hellewell says North American Residential used the product initially to meet more stringent standards for Title 24, California's mandatory building efficiency standards. Radiant barrier panels are one way builders can improve their homes' energy efficiency to meet the performance standards. "One of the least expensive ways to achieve your energy ratings is to add radiant barrier sheathing," Builders are beginning to realize that radiant barrier panels can help them outshine their competition, particularly in a depressed market. American Heritage Homes has two communities where the sheathing is a standard feature and offers it as an option on its other developments.

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