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What Makes Cool Roofing Cool? The Amazing Benefits of Cool Roofs

Over the past few years, the impact of climate change has become more and more apparent. Warm regions get even warmer, cold regions get even colder, and extreme conditions have never been so extreme. That is why investing in energy-efficient, sustainable solutions to improve the resilience of our structures is more important than ever. While innovative solar panels most often enjoy the limelight in terms of sustainable solutions, there are 1,000 other ways to have an impact on the environment. Even simple roof coatings or other alternative roofing materials can have a significant impact on a home or a building’s environmental performance.

On a typical summer day, a conventional dark roof is likely to register as the hottest place in a building;  as it absorbs lots of sunlight, it can reach temperatures of well over 150 degrees outdoors according to the Department of Energy. This effect heats up both the structure and the surrounding air, leading to increased energy use in air conditioned structures and boosting discomfort in non-air conditioned structures. Some roofs also help generate the formation of urban heat islands by warming the air flowing over the roof; they contribute to climate change as well by radiating heat into living spaces. Learn more about this in this informative video by the Department of Energy.

With the continuous rise of average global temperatures – 2016 was the hottest according to NASA and the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1998 – conventional dark roofs are bound to make less and less sense in the future. Interestingly, “cool roofs”, or those that reflect and emit solar energy back to space instead of absorbing and distributing heat to other areas in the building, present an attractive solution for homeowners and facility managers.

Perfect Exteriors of Minnesota, your go-to windows, siding and roofing contractor in the region, explains everything you need to know about cool roofing here:

What Is Cool Roofing in the First Place? 

In a nutshell, a cool roof is a reflective and highly emissive system that transfers less heat into the structure compared to traditional dark-colored roofs. By reflecting light from the sun and cooling itself by emitting radiation to its surroundings, a cool roof literally remains cooler and minimizes heat conducted to the structure below. In homes and offices without cooling systems, this keeps their structure cooler and at a more stable temperature. Nonetheless, if a structure has air conditioning, it doesn’t need to work as hard.

One of the most common ways to achieve cool roofing is by installing a cool, white, elastomeric coating on your roof. Investing in a cool roof can be compared to wearing a white t-shirt on a hot summer day. Because white absorbs less heat and reflects more light, wearing a white shirt will make you feel cooler and more comfortable than if you wore a heat-absorbing black t-shirt. Like a white t-shirt, cool roofs can keep the internal temperature of homes and buildings lower.

Applying a reflective roof coating is an excellent solution to minimize internal temperatures in structures. These coatings have a high solar reflectivity which can help prevent overheating at high temperatures while efficiently contributing to an extended roof lifetime.

Ideal Materials You Can Use for Cool Roofing

Aside from using reflective roof coatings, investing in the right roofing materials can also help you reap huge benefits over the long term. The right materials can help boost your home or building’s comfort and efficiency even with minimal help from your cooling systems. As residential and commercial properties come in all shapes and sizes, so do cool roofs. To identify the roofing solutions, techniques and materials which are likely to be the most efficient for your needs, you should consider not only the type of structure you have, but more importantly, the slope of your roof.

Choosing the best materials for your roofing needs shouldn’t be too difficult as there are plenty available on the market. You can check out this blog by The Destiny Formula to get a better idea of the specific features of the most common roofing materials available on the market today.

Here, we list down some of the best cool roofing materials for both residential and commercial roofing systems:

  • Asphalt shingles. One of the most popular roofing materials today, asphalt shingles offer superior aesthetics and energy efficiency. Homes with asphalt shingle roofs like this beautiful home in Toronto exhibit a charm that’s second to none. They also have energy-saving properties that help you maintain a cozy home while reducing your reliance on utility systems. Most asphalt shingles today have a special mineral coating that reflects solar heat, which helps you maintain comfortable temperatures inside. Other benefits include their low-maintenance features, cost-effectiveness and easy installation.

  • Wood or cedar shakes. Wood or cedar shakes offer up to 2 times more insulation than asphalt shingles. They help regulate your interior temperature, allowing you to enjoy an amazingly cozy atmosphere all year round. Plus, they give your home an aesthetic boost and rustic feel as is evident in this house featured in Home Bunch!

  • Slate. This material has outstanding insulating properties, making it a top cool roofing choice for homeowners. Slate has the ability to minimize energy loss, reducing your reliance on utility systems while effortlessly keeping your home comfortable. Other than boosting your interior temperature and helping you gain energy savings, slate roofs also offer out-of-this world beauty, as evidenced by this sophisticated Atlanta home designed by Barbara Westbrook and Historical Concepts’ Terry Pylant.

  • Metal. Installing a metal roof is one of the most-effective ways to go green. Not only can metal roofing help you save money; it can help Mother Nature at the same time. How cool is that? If you’re looking for the most energy-efficient roofing material out there, look no further than metal. It has a natural reflective surface that can resist heat absorption, no matter the conditions. Metal roofing systems are designed to reflect and re-emit solar heat, keeping the interior of your home or building much cooler during the warmest months. If your metal roof is coated in white or in any other light finish, heat from the sun is re-emitted back into the atmosphere right away, leaving no time for heat to be distributed to other areas of your structure. Metal roofs have the second benefit of outstanding strength and durability for its weight as it is practically made of steel. Check out this incredible modern home with metal roofing designed by Tim Cuppett Architects!

Top Benefits of Using a Cool Roof

The Ancient Greeks were ahead of their time in having their walls and roofs painted in white to reflect the sun rays. Today, the concept of the cool roof uses similar, but more innovative technology on modern homes and buildings to help minimize energy use through the creation of solar reflective surfaces. Although both are designed to lower heat absorption, a cool roof differs from a green roof in that the former uses various reflective treatments or surfaces rather than vegetation to achieve similar results.

As mentioned earlier, a traditional roof can reach temperatures well over 100 degrees at the height of summer. Under the same conditions, however, a cool roof can be over 50 degrees cooler: by simply reflecting heat from the sun, a cool roof effectively minimizes heat absorption. Here are some of the most significant benefits of installing a cool roof:

  • Reduced utility bills due to a decrease in the need to use air conditioning and other artificial cooling systems

  • Enhanced indoor comfort for rooms and spaces that aren’t entirely air conditioned

  • Decreased roof temperatures, which can even help prolong the life of your entire roofing system

The benefits of cool roofing go beyond the home or building itself. Solar gain can cause a phenomenon known as the urban heat island effect. If all the houses and buildings in the city or within a suburban area absorb 150-degree temperatures from the sun, local ambient temperatures may rise as well. With cool roofing, unnecessary heat will be reflected back to the atmosphere, reducing the heat island effect.

Electrical grid failures are common during summer when people in a concentrated area simultaneously turn on their air conditioning systems. If homes and buildings in these areas had cool roofing installed, there will be less strain on the grid, and power outages would not be as frequent. Depending on how the electricity is produced, lower demand could also mean lower levels of outdoor air pollution – an interesting side effect of cool roofing. Lastly, cool roofs can also reduce power plant emissions, including those of mercury, carbon and nitrous and sulfur dioxide, by lowering a building’s energy use.

Busting Common Myths About Cool Roofing

Nowadays, cool roofing systems are a popular choice for homeowners and building owners alike. Their maximum energy efficiency and other eco-friendly benefits appeal to many. Nevertheless, some are still skeptical about their effectiveness as a roofing option. It would be wise to learn more about these misconceptions and to uncover the truth to help you with your decision-making, especially if you’re thinking about upgrading your roof.

Among popular cool roofing myths are the following:

  • “Homes in colder regions won’t benefit from cool roofing.” While in some cases, cool roofs aren’t as effective in colder regions, the energy savings you’ll get during summer can make up for any increase in heating expenses during the cold months.

  • “Cool roofs are more expensive than other options.” Contrary to what most people believe, cool roofs can be purchased at almost any price range. All you have to do is get a reliable roofing company to help you find what you need. For example, Perfect Exteriors of Minnesota offers a wide range of roofing services and products that can help you utilize the advantages of cool roofing. From asphalt shingles to metal, our roofers have the right solutions for your every need.

  • “Cool roofs don’t work hand in hand with insulation.”  Not true. Cool roofing and insulation systems work together wonderfully as they serve the same purpose – to prevent heat from penetrating your roof and spaces.

Choosing a cool roofing system is a move towards achieving more energy-efficient and sustainable homes and buildings. Whether or not you agree that climate change is occurring, taking care of Mother Nature is the right thing to do. By investing in a cool roof, you can do your part for the environment : you can reduce your energy use, lower your structure’s ambient air temperature and own a durable, lasting and low-maintenance roof for many years.

Have our team at Perfect Exteriors of Minnesota help you with your eco-friendly initiative! For the best cool roofing options in the region, call us at (763) 307-3001.