Photo by Curtis Adams
Investing in an energy-efficient roof offers plenty of benefits. While you can install a colored roof for aesthetic considerations, choosing the right color roof is an easy way to improve your home’s energy efficiency. Your roof’s color can drastically impact your home’s temperature, especially during warmer and cooler months.
Are you upgrading or installing a new roof? Read on for more insights on how to pick the most energy-efficient roof color.
How Roof Color Influences Your Home
Ever wondered why people in a particular area choose a specific color roof? As the global weather gets more unpredictable, most people look for ways to minimize energy bills while sustaining the environment.
But how does color influence your roof’s energy efficiency? You might have seen that people wear light-colored clothes in high temperatures. The reason is that lighter colors reflect rays from the sun, while darker colors absorb them.
So when choosing an energy-efficient roof color, check its reflectivity rating. The best roof to keep your home cool during hot seasons should have a high-ranking reflectivity rating. If you don’t know how to check your roof’s reflectivity rating, seek the help of a roofing professional.
Lower Energy Bills
Unless you live in colder climates, a light-colored roof is energy-efficient during warmer months. Whether you prefer a white, light gray, light blue, or light brown roof, your roof will reflect heat from the sun away to avoid temperature spikes indoors. Typically, a light-colored roof can help lower your energy bill by 20-40%.
Higher Resale Value
Do you plan on selling your house in the future? Excess heat from the sun might crack walls and floors and reduce their quality. You don’t want to sell at a lowered resale value due to wear and tear of the floors and walls. Installing a light-colored roof prevents too much heat from entering your home. An energy-efficient roof will maintain your house at its best, preserving its resale value.
Extended Roof Lifespan
Excessive heat is known to corrode roofs (depending on the material). If you have an asphalt roof, direct exposure to the sun can lead to rust. Thankfully, painting your roof with light colors or installing a light-colored roof will help it last longer and possibly defer roof replacement.
The Most Energy-Efficient Roof Color
An energy-efficient roof color should deflect UV radiation while discouraging heat retention. Roof colors that do this are energy efficient thanks to the albedo effect. They include white, light gray, light brown, light green, and light blue roofs. These types of roofs are specifically called cool roofs.
The albedo effect, as it takes place on a roof, lies in its ability to reflect light and heat from the sun. White or light-colored roofs have a high albedo effect since they reflect a large part of heat into the atmosphere. Conversely, black, dark gray, and dark brown roofs have a low albedo effect since they absorb light and heat from the sun.
Everyone has a perfect roof color that will suit their needs. If you’re looking for a roof that matches your home’s exterior aesthetics while helping with energy conservation, there are many light-colored roofs that can serve your needs. Alternatively, you can choose any roof and consider investing in a lighter shade. The shade will provide an extra layer of reflection from the light and heat of the sun.
Light vs. Dark Roofs: Which Works Best for Your Home?
The best roof color choice depends on your area’s climate. If you build a house in an area that is usually warm throughout the year, such as coastal southern California, a lighter-colored roof can be perfect. Light-colored roofs can reflect up to 65% of sun rays and decrease your home’s interior temperatures by 50 to 60 degrees, which makes a huge difference in your energy bill in summer.
On the other hand, dark-colored roofs absorb more heat from the sun and can raise your home’s internal temperatures. Unlike light-colored roofs that can reduce temperatures, a room with a dark-colored roof can reach 150-175 degrees (especially in sweltering summers). For those who live in warmer regions, it doesn’t make sense to have a dark roof.
When the interior temperatures of your home increase, you’re likely to experience the following:
- Increased electricity usage. You’ll spend more electricity to cool your house if there are high static indoor temperatures. Keeping your air conditioner working throughout the day and night will require more electricity and increase your energy bills.
- Heat-related health issues. Some people can suffer from heat-related health issues when the temperatures are incredibly high. Among these are respiratory issues, cramps, heat strokes, and heat exhaustion. Your chances of experiencing these go up when the baseline temperature of your home is high.
- Difficulty sleeping. With a roof that absorbs heat, you may experience both hot days and nights. Extreme night temperatures may lead to difficulty falling asleep, increase wakefulness, and reduced sleep satisfaction.
However, a dark roof can be your best bet if you live in colder climates and don’t experience overly hot summers. When the temperatures are low, your dark roof will absorb light and heat from the sun to keep the internal temperature of your home warmer. As a result, you won’t need to use as much electricity on water heaters, thermostats, or coffee makers to help keep you comfortable on a chilly day.
Other Roof Factors That Influence Energy Efficiency
Apart from dark or light color, other factors can also affect your roof’s contribution to energy efficiency. These factors include the following elements.
The material used for roofing can determine if and how your roof reflects and releases heat. Some roofing materials are more energy-efficient than others and help reduce your energy bills.
Most people prefer to install asphalt shingles because they are relatively affordable, more fire-resistant than wood shingles, easy to install, and (if lightly colored) can guarantee reasonable energy efficiency.
Clay or Concrete Tiles
If properly colored, clay and concrete tiles can be incredibly energy-efficient as they reflect light and heat from the sun. However, it should be noted that concrete tiles can be more costly than asphalt shingles, but keep in mind that they have a longer lifespan.
The good thing about composite roofing is that they are more aesthetically appealing and relatively affordable. When installing an energy-efficient composite roof, choose a light-colored model so it can reflect solar radiation and heat.
Metal roofs are also the best at reflecting solar radiation and heat, keeping your house cool during warmer months, and your energy bill lower. Metal roofing is the most expensive option on this list, but it has the most extensive lifespan.
With good attic insulation, you can keep cool air circulating inside during summer and prevent warm air from escaping during the winter. If your roof is absorbing heat, the attic’s insulation prevents excess heat from getting into the rest of the house. Without proper insulation, the heat will simply bleed into the main living areas.
Minimizing indoor air leaks will help avoid heating or cooling air in your house for long, potentially lowering your monthly energy bill. While there are many insulation options, a fiberglass batt model is likely to be best for your attic floor.
Attic insulation retains heat from your roof and prevents it from getting into the rest of your house. It stands to reason then, that when the attic has too much heat, some of it might leak.
It may seem counterintuitive, but the best way to keep your attic insulation effective is through ventilation. Ventilation has intake vents and exhaust vents. Hot air escapes through the exhaust vents when your attic is hot. The intake vents then introduce cool air into the attic, ensuring your house has a continuous stream of fresh air.
Additionally, a well-ventilated attic controls moisture levels to prevent water and ice accumulation on your eaves or rafters. Without ventilation, there is the potential for ice damming, which simply means the ice from the roof melts thanks to a warm attic, then refreezes in the gutters. Ice damming has the potential to damage the roof, which can then negatively impact your roof's energy efficiency.
However, bear in mind that a well-ventilated attic will only keep your energy bills down if your attic is insulated, protecting the rest of the house against heat escaping in winter, or letting your air conditioning go to waste and escape through the attic.
A light-colored roof is often the most energy efficient solution and will play a significant role in keeping your house cool during warmer months. It’s one of many factors, like roofing material, insulation, and ventilation, that can help you put together the most energy-efficient roof. You can minimize your cooling bills and maintain a higher resale value for your home by investing in an energy-efficient roof.
Written by Louis Hanley
About the Author
Louis is a community manager for Baltic Roofing where they help the greater Chicago community with everything from high-quality roof replacements to skylight repairs. He is an expert on all things roofing and home improvement. Outside of work, he’s a huge Cubs fan and enjoys spending time with his dog, Roscoe.
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