How Does Reflective Insulation Work?

When you’re thinking about insulation options, there are several different methods, and finding the best choice for your application really comes down to understanding how each product works. Whether you’re talking foams, fiberglass, cardboards or shiny bubble wrap, each one works to insulate in a different way. Before we dive into products, lets first address that choosing which insulation is appropriate for you starts by understanding what type of heat transfer you are dealing with.

Okay, I promise not to over-do the science lingo here, but let’s cover how heat transfer works. There are three modes of heat transfer: conduction, convection, and radiation (infra-red). Of the three, radiation is the primary mode; conduction and convection come into play once matter interferes with the radiant heat transfer.

CONDUCTION: Conduction is direct heat flow through matter from actual physical contact. For example, an electric stove uses conduction to transfer heat to a pot resting on the surface, which is also conducted to your fingers when you make contact. The more contact, the greater transfer of heat. This movement of heat is always conducted from the hotter surface to the colder surface, never reverse. Generally, the greater density of an item, the better conductor it is; so inversely, the less dense the mass, the less flow of heat by conduction.

CONVECTION: Convection is the transport of heat within a gas or liquid. Think of a group of people in a tiny room. Their body heat will transfer to the air around them making the room feel hot. These warmed air molecules move in a general upward motion.

How does reflective insulation work?

RADIATION: The last and most prominent mode of heat transfer is radiation. Radiation is the transmission of electromagnetic rays through a space. Like radio waves, waves of radiant heat are invisible, and for this article’s purpose we will be referring to inferred rays only. Mostly everything emits infrared radiation, sending rays from their surface in every direction until they are absorbed or reflected by another surface. These rays have no temperature, only energy. When the rays strike another object, the rays are absorbed and only then do they create heat. The heat then transfers through the object by conduction and then new rays are emitted out of that object.

The amount of radiation emitted is a function of the emissivity (or rate at which radiation is given off) of the source’s surface. So, in plain english, an object (or surface) with low emissivity absorbs little rays, but rather has high reflectivity. Insulation layered with metalized film, like our Astro-sheild, has a low emissivity of 5%. This means it is reflecting approximately 95% of the rays that strike it. This high reflectivity is greatly reducing radiant heat from being transferred into the surface, intern working as effective insulation.

TRY THIS EXPERIMENT: Hold a piece of Astro-sheild reflective insulation close to your face without touching the surfaces. You will begin to feel the warmth of your own infrared rays being reflected back towards your face and being absorbed by your skin surface. While your skin and the insulation are both solid surfaces, the insulation has a low emissivity (5%) and your skin has an emissivity of 99%, so the rays are being absorbed by your skin and heat is conducting throughout the surface.

You can imagine how the same principles would apply as this effective insulation is implemented in a building or packaging application to help keep heat transfer to a minimum, and keep your space in a desired temperature range.

*Do you have a building that you’d like to keep cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter? Call us about using reflective insulation. 800-776-3645 or brenda@insul.net

*Do you have temperature-sensitive goods you’re worried about shipping? Call or email us about using InsulTote packaging to keep your goods safe during transit. 800-776-3645 or packaging@insul.net

www.insul.net

Put Those InsulTotes to Work- Again!

InsulTote liners can keep your rotisserie chicken hot, or your ice cream cold, all the way home! Whether you ordered an InsulTote liner on your own, or received one in a temperature sensitive package you received, put it to work! You may know that the reflective insulation in InsulTote liners stop heat transfer and work to keep items cold or hot, but you might be missing an opportunity to reuse these handy little helpers. Reusing your shipping pouches and box liners will save you money, save your groceries, and help to save the planet. At Innovative Energy, we are committed to sustainability, and encourage you to take every opportunity to get the most out of your products.

We understand that this can require a tiny bit of effort to get into the new routine of carrying InsulTotes with you, but the benefits are so great that we want to help you get started!

Here are a few easy tips to help you remember to re-use your InsulTote liners and shopping bags (before you’re already in the checkout line).

  1. Color Coordinate- Place your InsulTote liners in your brightest colored shopping bag with your other re-usable bags; using the brightest colored bag to store them will make it easier to spot in the car, and harder to forget! They’ll all be in one easy-to grab-bundle. 
  2. Put them on your list!- Add “InsulTote liners” to the top of your shopping list so their on the brain before you head out the door.
  3. Reward yourself!- If you remember to take your InsulTote liner into the store, pick up your favorite frozen/refrigerated/hot treat! Ice cream bar? Pizza slice? Chocolate bar? Your treat may not make it home from the store safely without the help of your trusty InsulTote liner.
  4. Make InsulTote Pay!– Paperclip a little cash to the InsulTote liner when you’re done with it. Next time, if you remember to take the InsulTote in, use that cash for your treat. No bags, no treat! That’ll teach ya!
  5. Unload/Reload!- After unpacking your InsulTote liner and re-usable bags, immediately organize them into the brightest one and hang it on the door handle. This way you will remember to return them to the car the next time you leave the house. 
  6. Have back-ups!-No matter how good our intentions are, we are going to forget the InsulTote liners. Make sure you have a couple of extra InsulTote liners that live in your car (separate for hot and cold items. If you have a favorite trick for re-using your InsulTote liners, or tips to remember to take them into the store; please share with us on Facebook!

Pro Tip: If the tape on the InsulTote flap has seen better days, simply cut that flap off with household scissors. For short trips from the grocery store, you can simply fold the InsulTote liner over to keep closed. For longer trips, or to re-use them for shipping, you can use clear packing tape to seal them closed before shipping.

Innovative Energy Reflects Perseverance

Founders Mary and Robert(Bob) Wadsworth anchoring their (grand)daughter Whitney and husband Jonathon Hagarbome at an employee’s wedding, December 2018.

For over three decades, Innovative Energy, Inc. has been a leader in the reflective insulation industry, fearlessly steered by their own trailblazing leader. With Robert (Bob) Wadsworth at the front of the pack, I.E. has been delivering high-performance reflective insulation products to a growing market of energy conserving industries. From metal building insulation and HVAC materials, to custom packaging, I.E. has been your single source for reflective insulation products.

Bob started the company in 1980 after successfully constructing a solar-powered, year-round greenhouse at his farm in Indiana that peeked his interest in energy conserving products. He and his wife, Mary, began company operations at their farm and chose to make this their life’s work. Little by little, they pushed forward to develop several products and become well-known in the industry. By 1995, they had long outgrown the space the barns provided, and expanded to a plant in Lowell, IN. The company has grown to have several departments and provide nearly 50 jobs to the the local community.

Bob always cared for his business and his people very seriously. During the struggles of the market around 2008, he vowed not only to keep the doors of his small business open, but to do everything in his power to avoid a single lay-off. He persevered.

As the years went on, and the business continued to grow, Bob began to think of the future of the company, and who would carry on the mission after him. Nearing 81, he had considered selling many times, with demands that his employees be looked after. However, the idea of letting go always kept him from pulling the trigger. Bob lived to work. It gave him purpose. He felt responsible, and knew it kept him going. So, rather than retire, when the opportunity presented itself, he called in for reinforcement.

Bob Wadsworth and Jonathon Hagarbome at 2018 Holiday party.

After reconsidering his ideas about mixing family and business, Bob hired his son-in-law, Jonathon Hagarbome, to manage a new warehouse. After a few months of exemplary performance, Bob quickly promoted him to General Manger of the company. They were so different, and yet, two-of-a-kind in that they eat, sleep, and breathe this business. The two worked tirelessly, sharing an office and a home for over a year. Jonathon brought a new passion for success and eagerness to propel the company into the innovative ways of new business practices. He listened intently to learn Bob’s experiences and begin trusted relationships.

Just a few weeks after the company’s holiday party where the pair was smiling and handing out bonus checks together, Bob was unexpectedly admitted to the hospital. On January 20, 2019, his 81st birthday, he passed away.

I can tell you proudly that Bob’s last moments were still spent worrying about his company and his people, and that Jonathon was right there to fill him in and to push the company forward as they were feeling a little lost without their leader. “I wasn’t done learning from him,” Jonathon says of their time working together. Luckily, once again, Innovative Energy will persevere.

While the change came quicker than expected, Jonathon is confident about the future of the company. Moving forward as the new President, Jonathon plans to provide high-quality products with incomparable customer service. He takes the reputation of this company seriously, especially because it is tied to his family. Along with raising business standards, Jonathon is devoting attention to the culture and systems within his team in hopes that Innovative Energy will also develop a reputation for being the area’s best place to work.

We will certainly never be the same, but we will push forward to success.

AstroBoard Installation on Building

astro_board_logoAstroBoard Reflective Insulation System consists of a “nominal” layer of 2.2lb density Polystyrene foam, sandwiched between a highly reflective film surface on one side, and a white polyethylene UV protected film on the other side.

It is ideal for retro-fitting existing pole barns, metal buildings, ceilings and walls as well as a material for insulating in new construction. Adding AstroBoard to your building improves the insulation value of the building envelope and can significantly increase its energy efficiency.


Check out AstroBoard’s feature in Retrofit Magazine or our website for more information, free quotes and samples!

Installing radiant barriers, factors that impact effectiveness

Heat shield radiant barrier
R+HEATSHIELD radiant barrier can reduce energy costs of a building.

There are several important things commercial and residential building owners can do to reduce energy costs of a building or structure. When insulating a home or adding commercial insulation, it is critical to be sure to install the recommended amount of insulation. In many parts of the U.S., installing a radiant barrier can add significant resistance to the transfer of radiant heat coming from the sun.

A radiant barrier is usually installed on the underside of the roof, to help reduce the flow of radiant heat— the kind of heat transfer that you can feel, such as when the sun shines on your skin. Keeping radiant heat from entering the living space can significantly reduce the air conditioning load of the building as well as improve the comfort of non-conditioned structures.

Factors that impact radiant barrier effectiveness:

  • Climate: Areas that require a lot of cooling will provide the best return on investment
  • Attic insulation: As a general rule, the more insulation in an attic, the less effective a radiant barrier will be
  • Location of ductwork: Radiant barrier systems generate greater savings when HVAC ductwork is located in the attic
  • Installation of the barrier: Radiant barriers are subject to the same guidelines as all building materials – correct installation is required for maximum performance

Radiant barrier material costs tend to be low – around 19 cents per square foot – but installation can add anywhere from 35 cents to $1 per square foot on top of that. Owners should shop around and compare prices and reviews when selecting a contractor to perform the work. Your contractor should be able to supply you with results from tests conducted according to ASTM International that will verify performance of the radiant barrier you’ve selected.

Types of radiant barriers

  • Sheet radiant barrier, the most common type on the market, consists of a low-e, (emissive), highly reflective metalized film, laminated to one or both sides of a substrate that can be of another reinforced film, bubble film or foam. The product is most often stapled to the underside of a roof or across the rafters. Single-sided products should be installed with the reflective surface facing the interior (inside) of the attic. A floor installation requires a perforated product so as to not trap moisture in insulation underneath it. These barriers should only be installed on the floor as a last resort since dust accumulation over time will reduce their effectiveness
  • Interior radiation-control coating systems (IRCCS) are applied as a liquid to the underside of a roof with either a brush or sprayer and are ideal for oddly shaped roofs or attics. Consumers should expect an energy savings of 1 percent to 7 percent. Some IRCCS coatings are designed for exterior walls. While no standard exists for these products, payback will be affected by trees or other features that block the sun’s rays from the side of a home.
  • Reflective insulation consists of a core material with one or more outside layers of low-e metalized film. The core can consist of bubble films, foam or kraft sheets that entrap air spaces. When these products are installed in open applications like an attic, they are considered radiant barriers. When they are installed within cavities with air spaces on one or both sides of the material, they are considered reflective insulations. Reflective insulation products can be used along with other foam and mass type insulation materials to help achieve higher system R-values.

As with many products, independent claims for performance of radiant barriers can be exaggerated and it is important for customers to investigate claims that seem questionable. For radiant barriers and reflective insulation products, a good information resource is the Reflective Insulation Manufacturers International Association – www.rimainternational.org. You can also learn more by visiting our website at www.insul.net, or fill out our Simple Request Form to request a free quote or samples.