This paper deals with radiations contribution to thermal insulation. The mechanism by which a stack of absorbers limits radiative heat transfer is examined in detail both for black-body shields and grey-body shields. It shows that radiation energy transfer rates should be much faster than conduction rates. It demonstrates that, for opaque screens, increased reflectivity will dramatically reduce the rate of heat transfer, improving thermal insulation. This simple model is thought to contribute to the understanding of how animal furs, human clothes, rockwool insulators, thermo-protective containers, and many other passive energy-saving devices operate.