Save Energy – and Money – with a Cool Roof
Whether you’re replacing an old roof or choosing roofing for a new house, make energy efficiency a priority
Discussions about improving home energy efficiency usually revolve around topics like insulation, air sealing, replacement windows and high-efficiency HVAC equipment. But roof shingles and other roofing materials also deserve attention in the energy-saving plan for a house or other building.
Cooler Roofing = Energy Savings
On a bright summer day, the temperature of a dark asphalt shingle roof can easily reach 150 degrees. This heat moves into the attic and into a home’s living space, making rooms uncomfortably hot while also placing extreme demands on the air conditioning system.
New roofing materials that meet ENERGY STAR® requirements for energy efficiency are designed to reflect more of the sun’s heat than traditional roofing materials, staying 100 degrees cooler in some cases. A “cool” roof, as defined by the U.S. Department of Energy, reduces air conditioning requirements and can actually cut peak cooling demand by as much as 15%. Who wouldn’t like to pay 15% less for air conditioning?
During cold winter months, it can be beneficial to have a roofing material that absorbs solar heat to help cut the cost of keeping warm inside. But research has shown that the benefits of cutting summer cooling requirements far outweigh the benefits of solar gain through the roof in winter. This makes sense when you consider winter conditions: shorter daylight hours, more overcast weather, and the sun’s lower position in the sky.
Cool Roof Benefits Go Beyond Energy Savings
It’s important to understand that cool roofing shouldn’t be your only defense against high summertime air conditioning costs; you also need attic insulation, which provides energy savings during heating and cooling seasons. But having a cool roof installed on your house can work together with your attic insulation to save you hundreds of dollars every year.
There are other benefits, too. Through local and national programs, a new cool roof may qualify for rebates & other financial incentives. To find out what programs are available in your area, visit the Cool Roof Rating Council website. The CRRC manages a system for evaluating the properties that define energy-saving cool roofing materials.
Since energy efficiency is a major feature in any “green” house, a cool roof helps to reduce environmental impact and (thus) increase green value. Other benefits you can expect after installing energy-efficient roofing are longer life for the roofing material and lower summertime attic temperatures (which are less damaging to certain items stored in the attic).
Choosing Energy-Efficient Roofing
If you’re in the market for new roofing, it’s wise to stick with roofing materials that meet ENERGY STAR® requirements for energy-efficient performance. Many people are surprised to learn that asphalt shingles (used on about 75% of homes in the U.S.) that qualify as cool roofing don’t have to be white or light in color.
Darker brown and grey tones are also available, thanks to improvements in making and mixing the tiny granules that form the finished surface of an asphalt shingle. Major manufacturers like Owens Corning, GAF, and CertainTeed offer ENERGY STAR® asphalt shingles in a wide variety of styles and colors –good news for homeowners who want a new roof that helps cut cooling costs
Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)
A journalist specializing in sustainability, energy efficiency and home building topics, Tim Snyder writes frequently for Smart Care Exteriors and Dr. Energy Saver, a nationwide network of energy improvement contractors.