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Put a Lid on It: Roof Type and Color Can Affect Heat Gain

Unless you are an architect or a building contractor, roofing material is probably the least glamorous decision you will make if you are building a home or replacing your roof.

But here’s a cool fact: one-sixth of all electricity generated in the U.S. is used to air condition buildings. This translates into about $40 billion annually that’s spent on utility bills to make us comfortable inside when it’s hot outside, according to Energystar.gov. If you need a new roof or if you are building a home, you might want to give your roofing materials a second thought.

Here’s why:

  • Energy Star-certified roof products reflect more of the sun’s rays, which can lower the roof surface temperature by up to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. In general, this keeps a structure cooler and helps reduce the demand for air conditioning.
  • Lighten up: Consider roofing material lighter in color than traditional black or dark shingles. This is known as cooling your roof. A cool roof can be 50 to 60 degrees cooler than a conventional dark-colored roof, thus reducing cooling load on your home according to greenhomeguide.com.
  • Add more buffer: A poorly insulated roof will require more air conditioning in the summer (and more heating in the winter). Even if you have insulation, it may not be enough.

The type of roofing materials that are best for your home can depend on climate, home design, location, your home’s efficiency, among other factors.

Along with Energy Star roofing products, some of the more energy efficient roofing options (when compared to an asphalt dark shingle) include slate and clay (ceramic) tiles that can be treated with reflective coatings; the lighter the color, the better. Clay can’t be used everywhere, however, since it can crack in certain weather conditions like hailstorms. Although metal sounds counter intuitive since it heats up in the summer and can be hot to the touch, metal roofs can be treated with reflective coatings and purchased in lighter colors.

For help deciphering roofing materials and to discuss the pros and cons of various roofing options, consult a trusted roofing contractor. For general questions about energy efficiency, contact your local utility and learn more at SafeElectricity.org.