When Does It Make Sense to Go with Energy-Efficient Roofing?

Although you might not think that your roof would play a role in a home’s energy efficiency, Energy Star reports that an energy-efficient roof can reduce peak cooling demand by 10 – 15 percent.  Energy-efficient cool roofs and green roofs have numerous environmental benefits, and can help property owners save money on their utility bills.  Transforming a standard roof into an energy-efficient one is less expensive than you might think, thanks to innovative roofing materials and surface treatments that can alter the heat reflection and absorption of roofing materials.  If you’re looking for a cost-effective measure to increase your energy savings and improve the curb appeal of your home, an energy-efficient roof may provide the solution.  

Energy-Efficient Roofing Materials

Energy-efficient roofing materials include paints, sheet coverings, and tiles, which reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat than standard roofing materials.  For those looking to improve the performance of an existing roof, a cool roof coating or solar panels may be the best solution. A cool roof coating, comprised of pigments that reflect sunlight, can transform a standard roof into an energy-efficient roofing system.  Solar photovoltaic (PV) cells can be added to your roof to not only reduce the amount of heat your roof absorbs, but also harness the sun’s energy to generate electricity.  If searching for a new roof, concrete and tile roofing are generally more energy efficient than asphalt, metal, and wood roofing, due to their natural solar reflectance properties.  However, certain types of asphalt shingles transfer less heat into your home and can save you money on air conditioning costs during the summer.

Green roofs also qualify as energy-efficient roofing systems.  Incorporating anything from a small plot of grass to a full-fledged garden on your roof can have a significant positive environmental impact.  Urban flat and shallow-pit roofs are ideal for rooftop vegetation.  Green roofs provide insulation, decrease household utility costs, and improve stormwater management.  Green roofs continue to increase in popularity throughout the United States and Canada, despite being more expensive to install than other forms of energy-efficient roofing.

Energy-Efficient Roofing Benefits

First and foremost, energy-efficient roofing allows homeowners to save money on their utility bills.  Research by the Heat Island Group concluded that buildings with more reflective roofs use up to 40 percent less energy for cooling.  When shopping for cool roofing products, look for materials with a high solar reflectance and thermal emittance.  Solar reflectance determines the amount of solar energy that a material reflects into the environment, while thermal emittance describes how readily a material releases absorbed solar heat.  Both are measured in values of 0 to 1; look for roofing materials that have higher values for both solar reflectance and thermal emittance.  As always, consult a local roofing contractor to find the best roofing system for your needs.

A roof surface with a higher reflectance and higher emittance that transfers less heat into your home and decrease the need for air conditioning during hot weather.  Americans spend around $40 billion a year on air conditioning, which equates to a sixth of all electricity consumed within the United States.  Needless to say, energy-efficient roofing can have a profound impact on your utility bills and the environment.  It can also reduce the urban heat island effect, a phenomenon that describes an increase in temperatures throughout urban communities due to the proliferation of dark surfaces, like blacktops and asphalt-paved roads.  The Environmental Protection Agency states:

“Heat islands can affect communities by increasing summertime peak energy demand, air conditioning costs, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, heat-related illness and mortality, and water quality.”

For homeowners looking to save money on their energy costs, make their homes more comfortable during the summer, and reduce their environmental footprint, investing in energy-efficient roofing is a smart choice.

How to Pay for Energy-Efficient Roofing

Plenty of financial resources exist to help property owners obtain a cool roofing system.  The Cool Roof Rating Council has a list of rebates, incentives, and loans for funding energy-efficient roofing projects.  Additionally, the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency has a list of energy efficiency and clean energy policies and incentives available for every state.  Although the initial costs of energy-efficient systems are higher than other home improvement projects, energy efficiency projects usually pay for themselves in the form of utility bill savings within a few years. The Global Cool Cities Alliance and the New Jersey Green Building Manual report a payback time of approximately six years for a cool roof, which may decrease depending on the incentives and discounts available in your region.  Once your cool roof is paid off, you’ll continue to save money on utility bills thanks to the decreased need for expensive air conditioning.

To maximize your energy savings (and minimize your payback time), Energy Star suggests researching several factors in advance before purchasing your cool roof, including the local climate and the efficiency of your heating and cooling system.

PowerScout offers smart home improvement tools for homeowners looking to increase their energy efficiency and save money.  With $0-down financing options and competing quotes from high-quality local contractors, PowerScout makes smart home projects attainable and affordable.  PowerScout connects you with the best local contractors providing solar panel installation, efficient roofing, and home battery storage, among other services. See all the smart home projects we offer at powerscout.com.