Whistleblower: Radiant barriers show dubious benefits in Minnesota

  • Article by: Jane Friedmann
  • Updated: April 29, 2013 - 9:41 AM

As Larry Stopa ate a free steak at an Oshkosh, Wis., restaurant, he listened to a sales pitch for “radiant barrier” insulation that was supposed to save him a bundle.

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larrystopaApr. 28, 1312:20 PM

To me the most disturbing part of this story is how incompetent the Better Business Bureau is at protecting consumers from fraudulent sales operations. BBB received a consumer complaint against IES. The consumer noted the Minnesota Department of Commerce warning that radiant barriers did not save energy for Minnesota homeowners. IES claimed they do not sell radiant barriers, even though that is what the IES website described the product and what the IES salesman called it. BBB accepted IES’ specious response. The consumer bought another IES product that IES claimed would save electricity consumption. The consumer checked with the electric utility which confirmed that the IES product was nothing more than a surge protector which does not save electricity. The consumer received a partial refund, which was good enough to the BBB After all this, the Better Business Bureau gave Innovative Energy Solutions (IES) a BBB Rating of A+, while IES continued making the same false claims about its products.

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David_GrossApr. 29, 13 8:59 AM

The reflecting/redirection of, basically, infrared radiation is quite valid as a technique. Greenhouse gases work that way in the atmosphere, and that's how survival blankets, "space blankets," work, too. Whether it is really worth it, or not, as an add-on, afterward, with full costs of labor and materials, is a different story. I think that you are being overbroad, or imprecise, in your apparent condemnation of the concept. Installing the radiation reflection in the INITIAL design and construction of a structure, or installation of an appliance, is almost a no-brainer, because the marginal cost of the foil to the base material, what you're installing, anyway, is so minimal that the return is well worth it. So foil-faced insulation helps a bunch, providing both thermal insulation AND radiation reflection. And some appliances, such as the masonry storage heaters I installed in my home rebuild require it in order to redirect the energy from warming the room divider wall behind it into the space where you want it to work. Also, radiant heat flooring between building levels requires it in order to prevent over heating/over radiation of the lower level.

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