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Do Insulating Paint Additives Work? Here is The Scoop On Whether Insulating Paints Work Or Not.
By Andy Patterson, Home Repair Specialist
What is the deal with the advertisements for Insulating Paint? Do insulating paints really work as advertised? I was curious about insulating paint since I live in the south and heat gain is a problem. So, does insulating paint really work or is it a scam? The answer is not that simple. I did some research and found some more information that makes some of the claims by insulating paint companies look a little fishy. My first clue should have been the paragraphs on the major insulating paint sites on how to sign up for their "affiliate program" and make money referring customers to them. Bad sign.
"NASA inspired technology, NASA spin-off technology", etc, etc, are part of the advertising slogans for insulating paint. Just because the space shuttle tiles contain ceramic doesn't mean that a cup of ground up ceramic powder or aluminum flakes put in a can of house pant can reflect heat off of your home any better than regular paint.
One of the leading insulating paint makers claims to have a relationship to home expert Bob Vila but nothing can be found on Bob Vila's site about it when a search is done.
Many manufacturers of insulating paint claim that their products are Energy Star Certified when in fact they are not.
These same insulating paint companies may make a product that is reflective, and is used to paint the undersides of your attic and these products do have Government Energy Star recognition as having merit to save energy by keeping your attic cooler. However, when these same miracle additives are added to paint their reflective quality disappears regardless of whether the product is "high tech NASA ceramics, sliver, gold or kryptonite. The reason why they loose their reflective property is similar to what happens when you paint a mirror black. When the reflective particles are coated with colored latex house paint then it is no longer a reflective surface. Likewise ceramic as a material can dissipate heat but the entire wall would have to be made of ceramic tiles. Just adding a few ounces to paint would give very little if any benefit.
Studies by the University of Florida on the two main makers of insulating paints show that these products are no more effective than any other paint at reducing heat gain in an exterior wall. Insulating paint claims don't seem to match the test results.
Another study which is available at this site did an in depth review of the "insulating" properties of ceramic based paint such as Insualadd. http://www.energyideas.org/documents/Factsheets/PTR/Insuladd.pdf
Insulating Paint Claims Vs. Reality
The study determined that, yes, there is some dissipation of heat, 20% at best, on a newly painted exterior wall but that it can degrade over time and the manufacturers claim of 40% energy savings cannot in any way be possible. Exterior walls account for only a quarter of a home's heat gain. The paint only works on walls that are in direct sun so once you factor that in it seems impossible to achieve such large energy savings.
A plain white wall may reflect heat just as well as one painted with insulating paint.
Their study also determined that the additive could contribute to up to 35% of heat loss during the winter on a wall that is in direct sun!
Applied to interior walls the study showed almost no effect at all.
The Energy Star website even requests that you send them the names of any company that claims that their paint is Energy Star certified when applied to the exterior or interior of a home.
The best way to reduce heat gain on a side of your home that gets direct sun is to install solar window screens, plant trees that leaf out in spring and summer and to paint the wall a lighter color.
You can use a solar roof vent that uses free energy to help keep your attic cool. See How solar roof vents help cut your energy bill.
You can find out more about radiant barrier attic insulation, which has been proven to work here: How radiant barrier attic insulation saves money.
According to the tests done by the site above on Insuladd, Insulating paint additives have a slight cooling effect but when added to colored paint and applied to the outside of a home apparently they do not work as well as advertised nor give energy savings anywhere near what is claimed so therefore I would recommend that your save your money. However, if you doubt the results of these studies, buy a small bag and do a test yourself by painting a section of wall. I tend to believe the study and therefore am saving my $12.95.
So, Does Insulating Paint Work as Advertised?, See the Link Below
Here is the Energy Star page describing how to report fraudulent claims about insulating paints.