The main purpose of a roof is to protect your home from the elements--everything from rain and snow to wind and hail. What you may not know is that your roof has a tremendous impact on your energy usage. Roofs that are maintained properly and made of energy-efficient materials reduce the workload on your HVAC system, making it easier to keep your utility bills in check. If you are ready to replace your roof or your existing roof needs extensive maintenance, keep these tips in mind to reduce energy usage at the same time.
1. Choose light-colored roofing materials. Dark tiles, shingles, and other roofing materials absorb radiation from the sun, making your house hotter and forcing your cooling system to work harder to maintain a comfortable temperature. If you want to save energy and prevent your cooling costs from spiraling out of control, ask your roofing contractor to use light-colored roofing materials. The light colors reflect the sun's rays, directing the heat away from your home and reducing the temperature inside. When the temperature drops, your cooling system doesn't have to work as hard to maintain the temperature you set on the thermostat.
2. Paint your roof with a solar-reflective coating. White paint is a good start, but if you really want to slash your energy usage, add a solar-reflective coating to your roofing materials. These coatings reflect up to 90% of sunlight, drastically reducing the amount of heat absorbed into your home. Your roofing contractor can help you choose the right coating and make sure it is applied correctly.
3. Address insulation issues as soon as possible. Insulation keeps your home comfortable by preventing heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. One way to increase the energy efficiency of your roof is to replace inadequate insulation in your attic. The insulation under the roof affects heat absorption and heat loss, which means it has a major impact on your heating and cooling costs. During the winter, your roofing insulation prevents all the heat you are paying for from escaping your house, giving your heating system a much-needed break. In the summer, roofing insulation keeps cold air inside, which prevents your cooling system from running constantly. One of your local roofing services can replace your attic insulation quickly, allowing you to reduce your energy usage almost immediately.
4. Switch from shingles to other roofing materials. There's nothing wrong with using asphalt shingles on your roof. Shingles are one of the most inexpensive roofing materials, and they are relatively easy to replace if they are damaged during a storm. Despite these benefits, shingles tend to absorb heat, causing your cooling system to use more energy. Materials such as tile and glazed concrete do a better job reflecting the sun's rays. If you cannot use any of these materials due to HOA rules or cost considerations, ask your roofing contractor to use cool shingles, which are shingles that contain small particles that reflect sunlight.
5. Check the ventilation system. If your roof does not have adequate ventilation, all the white paint and reflective shingles in the world won't make it as energy efficient as it could be. The ventilation system allows heat to escape from the attic, reducing the strain on your cooling system and preventing your house from getting too warm. Have a roofing contractor check your existing system for blockages and other problems. If a problem exists, correct it right away; otherwise, you'll likely be paying inflated utility bills for years to come.
6. Make decisions based on your climate. When it's time to replace your roof, talk with your contractor about what options make sense for your climate. Homeowners in Florida, which is known for its heat and humidity, have drastically different needs from homeowners in Maine, which is known for its brutally cold winters and heavy snowstorms. Tell your contractor that you are interested in using sustainable materials that will hold up under local weather conditions.
Not everyone wants solar panels, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to increase the energy efficiency of your roof. By using the right materials, taking the local climate into consideration, and addressing roofing problems quickly, you can use your roof to control heating and cooling costs.