How to Update Your Roof to Save Energy

August 18, 2015

You might not think that your roof has a large impact on the temperature in your house—and your energy bills—but it’s true. Because it receives direct sunlight all day long, a roof can be as much as 50 degrees hotter than the air temperature. The heat increase on your roof can also cause heat increases in your home, requiring you to turn up your air conditioning to cool your home. Fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take to update your roof to cool your home and save energy—and money.

The Problem with Dark Roofs

Historically, roofs have been made of dark materials, often ones that can get extremely hot. A dark roof attracts and retains heat, causing the roof’s surface to be as much as 50 degrees warmer than the air around it. These dark roofs, so capable of becoming hot, then heat the rest of your home, from the attic all the way down to your basement.

Options for a “Cool” Roof

A few options for “Cool Roofs” have become popular in recent years, since they decrease house temperature and energy costs.

  • White Roofs. A white roof is a roof that has been painted with a white, solar reflective coating. These white roofs can reflect as much as 90% of the sunlight that reaches it, leading to drastically cooler temperatures in your home.


  • Reflective Roofs. Along with white roofs, there are a number of other substances that can be applied to a roof that will help reflect sunlight and cool the roof and a home. Some are aluminum-based and some are polymer-based, but they all have the same functioning of reflecting sunlight and cooling a roof—and a house.

Options for Green Roofs

An alternative to a cool roof is a green roof. A green roof is what the name implies: a roof made up of vegetation—such as grass or trees—that are planted into the roof. These roofs absorb heat and insulate a home, leading to an overall cooler house—and lower energy bills.

Internal Insulation

While external roofing options are optimal solutions to cool your roof and your house and save energy, there are other steps you can take to prevent a hot roof from heating up your house. One option is to reinsulate your attic. Insulation will help keep the heat from your roof from flowing into your attic and into the floors below in your house, leading to a cooler home.

How to Update Your Roof

A professional roofer can assess your roof and help you determine the best course of action to upgrade your roof to save energy. Applying a reflective coating to an existing roof will likely be one of the less expensive options. However, retrofitting the roof with a special heat-reflective material or installing a cool roof might provide a more lasting solution—as well as improve your home’s energy efficiency and decrease your energy bills, particularly in summer.

Whatever approach you take, be sure you’ve done thorough research to understand what coating or material is best given your home and your roof. As with many steps to save energy, investing money now could save you a significant sum in the long run.

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