A lot of manufacturers make a lot of claims about the energy efficiency of their products, some even go so far as to offer an energy saving guarantee for their amazing new product. So how do you know if the product will really perform according to their claims?
I ran into a couple of salesmen this past weekend. They had their tables set up at an event both selling the exact same product for different installation firms. They had a shiny product to install in your attic that one of them was guaranteeing would lower your energy bills by 49% while the other one was claiming a 25% reduction. That right there should clue you in that something was terribly wrong.
My husband and I started questioning the first salesman, not telling him who we were or what we do for a living. He was claiming that this less than a quarter of an inch of fiberglass insulation sandwiched between some shiny reflective paper had an R-value of R-13. Knowing how R-values are calculated, that made me smile. We then asked if the product had been tested at one of the national laboratories to receive that R-value and if it did could we see a copy of the report. He said that was a good question.
We continued to press him and asked several more questions about the verification of his claims. He thought those were good questions as well. I asked who was doing the verification and what kind of license those verifiers were working under. Yet another good question. Apparently we had a lot of good questions. Unfortunately, he didn’t have any answers.
The second guy was only a little better. He made claims about the products ability to prevent heat radiation from penetrating it that clearly showed he did not understand anything about how heat moves through materials. He did thank us for carefully explaining how radiant barriers work which was not at all what his boss had told him.
There are lots of building materials out there with some amazing claims, not all of them are true. If their claims were true, they would readily be sharing those reports from the national laboratories that back up their claims with good solid building science. We have seen many products over the years that make amazing claims about energy savings and R-values. I remember a client who came to us excited about a structural wall material claiming it had an R-value of 50. Sadly after pressing for the reports, we found that it only had an R-value of R-22. They said that it may have only received an R-value of 22 in the testing, but it really functioned like an R-50. So how do you as the consumer verify all these claims and make wise choices?
As I see it, you have a couple options. An educated consumer is always the best option. There is lots of building science information out there available for consumption for free. If there is a topic you are interested in, email me e.guinn@DanGuinnHomes.com and I will forward to you multiple sources for you to begin your research. The other option is to hire someone who is licensed and professionally trained to apply building science and knows how things like how the sun’s radiation heats up your attic. Looking forward to your questions! I live for research.