Energy-Efficient Roofing Doesn't Have To Mean Compromising On Aesthetics

If someone asked you what the most energy-efficient roofing material was, what would you say? The fact is that most people don't have a clear sense of what material will give them the most efficient roof. So instead, they choose their roofing material based on cost, maintenance, or aesthetics.

But what might surprise you is the fact that you can have both; how energy-efficient your roof is has less to do with the roofing material than you might think. This means that you have the freedom to choose the material you find most attractive or that will last the longest – as long as you make sure to get the "cool roof" version of it.

What is cool roofing?

Cool roofing materials are materials that have high solar reflectance and high thermal emittance. The first of these qualities means that they absorb less heat from the sun, instead reflecting solar radiation back into the air. The second means that they release stored heat easily. Both of these qualities help to keep the roof cool.

Why is cool roofing good for the environment?

Most roofs are exposed to sunlight for a large part of the day, absorbing heat until they are far hotter than the surrounding air. This means that your cooling system, whether you use fans or air conditioning, has to work harder to keep your home cool. That means using more energy, which doesn't just mean higher energy costs for you – it means increased air pollution from electricity production.

Won't a reflective roof be blinding?

In the past, many roofs that were labeled as "cool" or "solar reflective" achieved this by being very pale or white, whether due to paint or powder coating. However, this is no longer the case. It's possible to get pale roofing – it's usually given a matte finish to keep it from being too bright in the sunlight – but the key is to reflect infrared light.

Infrared light is invisible to the naked eye, but it can be felt as heat. And newer coating technologies mean that all sorts of roofing materials, from dark asphalt shingle to painted metal panel to red tile, can be given coatings that will reflect this infrared light without changing what color they appear.

If you don't live in a sunny area, why should you get a cool roof?

Even in areas where the weather is rarely sunny, a cool roof can make a difference on those days when it is. But it has another advantage in addition to reflectivity: don't underestimate the impact that their high thermal emittance can have. This quality means that when they heat up, whether from the sun or simply from high air temperatures, they can release this heat more quickly back into the air. And that means they can help keep your home cool, reducing your cooling costs as well as the amount of energy used on fans or air conditioning.

Speak to local roofing contractors to learn more.