Ways your roofing can lower your heating bills

Ways your roofing can lower your heating bills

Just as your roof is your first line of defense against elements such as wind and rain, it’s also your first line of defense against excessive heat.

Here are some tips and tricks — some simple, some complex — to use your roof to beat the heat in both this and future summers.

This is almost literally the oldest trick in the book. Darker colors absorb heat, while lighter colors reflect and bounce it away. So the choice of roofing color (whether shingles, materials or just painting the roof) makes a big difference. While light tan and light gray are some of the most energy-efficient roofing colors, black, dark gray and dark brown are among the worst for deflecting heat.

That said, while a light-colored roof is most efficient, roofing color is probably the least important element of a summer-friendly roof. Nonetheless, when combined with other efficiency factors, a light-colored roof adds one extra step of effectiveness.

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Material plays one of the biggest roles in energy efficiency. Asphalt shingles, tiles, wood shake, metal shingles, concrete and terra-cotta clay tend to reflect more heat. In some cases, these materials require a light polymer coating to become fully effective as a cool roof.

Cool roof coatings come in numerous forms. A white reflective coating made of the correct materials might reflect as much as 80% of sunlight. Aluminum flakes suspended in resin can reflect between 50% and 70% of heat.

If you want to add a cool roof coating to the roof you already have, expect to pay between 15 cents and $2.50 per square foot.

The choice of cool roof coating depends on many factors, including your location, budget and existing roof. A roofing pro can help you sort out your choices. In some cases, you might even qualify for a residential energy-efficiency tax credit.

By the way, don’t overlook your attic ventilation. Even an efficient cool roof still transfers some heat, and attic ventilation is a valuable tool to keep heat from invading your living space.

Of course, you can do more with your roof than simply reflect heat away. The most efficient use of the heat is to put it to work in your home. For this task, you can install rooftop solar panels or even solar shingles to soak up heat and convert it into electricity.

This is one of the easiest forms of renewable energy and tends to pay for itself in a few years. Plus, solar systems are eligible for generous state, local and federal tax credits, so talk to a nearby tax pro to see how they can help your taxes.

On average, rooftop solar systems cost between $17,000 and $32,000 to install.

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