QUITMAN -- Langboard recently became one of only three manufacturers producing a radiant barrier sheathing product for use in new home construction.

Marketed under the name "EnergyLock," the barrier is installed in roofs to reduce summer heat gain and winter heat loss. According to Langboard Plant Manager Chris Reid, the product can reflect 97 percent of radiant heat, reducing the attic temperature and, subsequently, the cooling costs.

"The technology used in making this product is very similar to what is used in satellites to reflect heat. We started producing EnergyLock in July of this year and think it's a great option for the consumer," said Reid.

The radiant barrier is produced by adding a thin layer of foil, similar to aluminum foil, to one side of OSB (oriented strand board). Langboard is one of only four plants in the region to produce OSB, and this product was a "logical extension" of the company's current product line.

Langboard Sales Manager Chuck Rigoni said the radiant barrier technology was first developed in Florida nearly 15 years ago, but has only recently caught on due to the energy crisis in California and the Southwest.

"The recent energy problems out West have brought technology like this to the forefront. It's like having a sunscreen on your roof to repel the heat, as heat cannot get through the foil. It's very popular now in Texas, the West and other places where heat is a problem," said Rigoni.

As OSB sheets are routinely used in new home construction, Rigoni said there are no additional labor costs for installation of EnergyLock. The product is more expensive, adding $500 to the cost of a typical home roof.

"However, the average homeowner will save 15 to 25 percent each month on their cooling costs, so it wouldn't take more than a year or so to make up the price difference," he said.

"This is definitely an advancement," said Todd Wilson, president of Wilson-Bray Construction. "In South Georgia, we tend to build in cornfields and open areas where there is no shade, and this product could make a significant difference."

Wilson said in the summer, a typical attic can reach 150 degrees or higher, and by using a radiant barrier, the temperature can be reduced as much as 40 degrees. "Reducing the heat would give a longer life to shingles and improve the performance of insulation. A cooler attic means a cooler house, and better energy efficiency means lower energy bills," he said.

Although Wilson has not had the opportunity to use a radiant barrier product in a new home yet, he said he is considering it for a home he is building that is currently in the planning stage. "It adds another layer of protection for the homeowner."

Langboard's primary market for EnergyLock at this time is Florida, which is still undergoing a building boom despite a decrease in other areas due to the slowing economy.

"Several power companies are currently considering giving consumers incentives to use products such as these which have proven to lower energy usage," said Rigoni.

The Langboard OSB plant was built in 1988, and is a division of The Langdale Co.

To contact reporter Kay Harris, please call 244-3400, ext. 280.

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