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Eco Friendly Roofing to Beat the Summer Heat

Hello, sweet summer! Hello vacations, cookouts with friends, and weekends by the pool – all the wonderful things associated with these beautiful weather months.

Hello skyrocketing electric bills from the near-constant air conditioning…a not-so-wonderful aspect to your favorite months of the year.

How can you enjoy the glory of the summer weather without breaking the bank on your cooling bills? One way is with energy-efficient, heat-friendly roofing materials. Summer is a great time to consider re-roofing your home if your current roof is old (generally, roofs last about 20 years) because the weather lends itself to quick, efficient roofing processes. Without having to worry about extreme cold, snow, or ice getting in the way, roofers can often re-roof a house in just a few days.

Getting a new roof can also help make your house more energy efficient, thereby reducing not only your heating and cooling costs, but your other household bills as well.  Here are some eco friendly roofing styles and materials to help you beat the heat this summer at an excellent cost.

Built-up roofs

One type of roof that can easily be made energy-saving are built-up roofs. Built-up roofs are composed of a base sheet, fabric reinforcement layers, and a protective surface layer. This surface layer comes in many “cool” options. For instance, you can substitute marble chips for dark gravel in asphalt, use reflective granules or a factory coating instead of a dark coating, or you could apply a cool coating on top of the finished roof.  Cool roof coatings are coatings with special pigments that reflect sunlight. They are applied in thick coatings to protect the roof from absorbing heat as well as UV rays.

Single-ply membranes

Single-ply membranes can be rolled onto a roof and attached with fasteners or adhesives.  These membranes protect the roof, and come in reflective materials to keep roofs cool, preventing heat absorption. They can also be coated with cool roof coatings after installation.  Their ease of installation and superior UV reflection make them an extremely eco friendly roofing option. What could be better?

Modified bitumen sheet membranes

These roofs are made of layers of material (usually plastic or rubber, alternated with reinforced fabrics) that have been surfaced with mineral granules.  Bitumen sheet membranes often come pre-coated for heat resistance, and can be used to surface a build-up roof. They are very durable for high-stress roofing areas, especially around the flashings.

Spray foam roofs

Spray foam roofs are not often idea choices for roofing material, as they tend to be susceptible to damage. They can, however, be coated with a reflective, protective coating that is already reflective and offer cool roof performance, which is ideal.

Cool asphalt shingles

Asphalt shingle roofs are commonly used in residential roofing. They are applied in overlapping rows on top of a tar barrier to help protect your home. Cool asphalt shingles use specially coated grains in the shingle to provide better reflectiveness. Some asphalt shingles can be coated in eco friendly coatings in the factory or as they are applied to make them “cool” shingles. Keep in mind, however, that coating the existing already-installed shingles on your roof is not recommended by most shingle manufacturers.

Slate tile roofs

Slate tiles are naturally earth-toned, and this light color reduces the amount of heat absorbed and transmitted into the building. They have natural reflective properties that will cut down your cooling costs. Unfortunately, slate tiles are a larger up-front investment, and may be harder to transport and work with during installation. They are, however, among the longest-lasting roofing materials on the market. This may appeal to you for a variety of reasons.

Terra cotta or clay roofs

Popular in Spain and the Mediterranean, terra cotta clay roofs are also naturally lighter-colored and therefore cooler. They can also be painted with materials that make them further reflective and weatherproof.

Metal roofs

The natural metallic finish of a metal roof makes it a good solar reflector. They do not, however, re-emit any absorbed heat, so painting a metal roof can make it even cooler. Using a light-colored paint will increase its coolness, as will applying a cool reflective coating during installation.

Green roofs

Green roofs are not only eco-friendly, but fun! These are ideal for tall urban buildings that have flat (or mostly flat) roofs. You can cover the roof in gardens or vegetation. Sometimes called “living roofs,” green roofs use a waterproof membrane that is filled with soil and vegetation.  Living roofs not only keep the building cool, but they also reduce the human footprint and this appeals to many people.  Additionally, they help with water run-off, are excellent at preventing leaks, and provide natural insulation. From an entertaining standpoint, green roofs also provide a great space to host friends and family in nice weather.

Solar panels

Solar panels, or photovoltanic roof shingles, capture the heat of the sun and redirect it into electricity. Solar roofs have recently become much more affordable, and will not only reduce your cooling costs in the summer, but also help reduce your overall electricity use.  Since many now come with a lifetime warranty, you won’t have to worry about continually replacing your roof, as with more traditional roofing types. The upfront cost may be greater, but the lifetime investment is much less.

As the temperature rises, it’s time to consider how you can make your home – starting with your roof – more efficient. You work hard, and you take pride in your home. By installing a cool roof, you will be taking care of your home (preventing leaks and water damage!) and lowering your cooling costs this summer. Many cool roof options may involve a slightly greater up-front investment, but the benefits you will reap this summer – and for many summers to come will certainly make it worth your while.




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