A peaks of a metal cool roof on top of a building are shown on either end

An unshaded roof can quickly become hotter than 170°F! As the sun beats down on it, it blisters, splits, corrodes, and decays the material, preventing it from sheltering your home’s interior adequately.

This instance is where cool roof technology comes in handy. With a cool roof, you can save money that would otherwise have been allocated to a new roof.

What Is A Cool Roof?

A cool roof is specifically-designed to reflect more sunlight than traditional rooftops. It does this by absorbing less solar energy, which prevents it from heating up too fast.

Think of it like wearing a light sweater when the temperature drops—it keeps the chill out so you can go about your day.

Traditional roofs can get as hot as 150°F or more on a sunny summer day. In contrast, a cooling or reflective roof can remain 50°F cooler, providing a cooler home whose HVAC system doesn’t have to work so hard to maintain a comfortable temperature.

The result? A lower energy bill for as long as the cool roof maintains the internal temperature of your home or workplace. 

Most cool roofs are designed to shed heat by giving off infrared radiation. The phenomenon is called ‘thermal emittance‘, which only works under certain conditions. 

Top Benefits of Cool Roof Technology 

Besides reducing your energy bills, here are some more reasons why you should invest in cool roof technology:

  • You can be eligible for rebates from utility or government programs and save money.
  • Enhanced air conditioning comfort and safety for spaces your HVAC system cannot reach.
  • Reduced roof temperature and increased lifespan.
  • A downsized HVAC or more affordable system that doesn’t need to work as hard. 
  • Reduced formation of smog by cooling the external air. 
  • Reduced peak electricity demand which in turn can prevent power outages. 
  • Offsetting global warming effects by reflecting sunlight. 

Why Color Matters

Just like how light-colored clothes feel more comfortable and airier in summer, a lighter-colored cool roof performs better than a darker one.

Light colors reflect more and absorb less sunlight than darker colors which absorb 90% of solar energy. The latter has a solar index reflective (SRI) value of less than 20, while the former has an SRI between 70 and 80. 

Cool roofs reflect both sunlight and infrared and UV light.

Types of Cool Roofs You Can Choose

Not all cool roofs are equal. Here are some of the options you can go for:

Steep-Pitched Cool Roofs

This style of cool roof has a significant incline and can often be found on top of domestic buildings. However, steeply pitched roofs are made of materials different from low pitched roofs, reducing their application options.

Those made of asphalt shingles such as wood and polymer perform better. That’s because most asphalt shingles have a relatively low SRI, especially the white ones.

Slate, clay, and concrete are standard options for steep-pitched roofs. These tiles can be found in warmer locations and are often treated with a coating that improves the roof’s reflective properties. In addition, clay and concrete tiles are available in a wide range of colors, improving their reflective property and durability against the weather.

Metal Cool Roofs

The top of a home with cool metal roofing is shown along with a chimney stack

Steep and low-pitched cool metal roofs are designed with several finishes that improve thermal emittance and solar reflection. Some low-pitched varieties also feature cool reflective coatings, making them extra reflective. 

Cool Roof Coatings 

You don’t have to replace the whole roof to benefit from cool roof technology. Instead, you can apply a cool roof coating on your existing one to get the same benefits.

Workers retrofitting a home with a cool roof in the desert with spray foam polyurethane cool roof coating
Workers retrofitting a home with a cool roof.

The coating can be applied to several materials such as gravel, metal, asphalt, etc. Coatings include the following:

  • Aluminum roof coating is made from resin and contains traces of aluminum leaf.
  • White roof coatings. These are opaque, reflective, and contain white pigment and polymeric materials.
  • Pigmented coatings are available in dark shades such as blue, red, and green. These coatings are typically used to improve the look of a house and make it more appealing to potential buyers in the future.
  • Elastomeric roof coating (ERC) is an acrylic material that can shield your roof against extreme weather conditions such as storms. It can be applied easily over an existing roof, but it should be on one in good condition. ERCs can also be used on several low and flat roof materials since they dry quickly. 

Cool Membrane Roofing 

This cool roofing option is generally used in commercial and low-pitched roofs. However, it can also be used on homes and other structures that have steep roofs.

The material is designed to protect structures against the effects of extreme weather and to insulate them as well. Membrane roofing is usually made of fiberglass, felt, or polyester and can be covered with pigments that can reflect sunlight. Roofing gravel is also considered a cool roof membrane. 

Some, such as Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM), are popular with residential consumers since they are single-ply. This membrane is often found on low-pitched structures in black or white. 

Besides these options, you can also opt for thermoplastic membranes, which are flexible sheets made out of polymers such as thermoplastic polyolefin.

The sheets are welded together with heat and are often made in white. However, pigments can be added to make them more colorful and aesthetically pleasing. 

Should You Install A Cool Roof?

To determine whether you should invest in cool roof technology, first look at your utility bills and energy needs.

The amount of energy you will save will depend on several factors, including climate, roof type, how insulated it is, and the efficiency of your HVAC system.  

If you want to build a new home, you can decide this during planning. If you wish to turn an existing roof into a cool one, you have two options:

  • Install a cool roof before your existing one has to be replaced.
  • Install a cool roof system to an existing roof if it can accommodate it.

Bottom Line 

A cool roof system can go a long way to help reduce energy costs and ensure you and your family remain comfortable. In addition, the highly-effective reflective and emittance qualities they offer will increase the lifespan of your roof, which can otherwise corrode faster under direct sunlight.

Besides making your home and office look and feel amazing, cool roof technology can also clean up the environment by reducing smog and other types of air pollution.

Just make sure the option you choose is installed by qualified professionals with years of experience. Otherwise, you may end up paying for more than just an installation. Check customer reviews and ask around before choosing one to ensure it meets your needs and budget. 

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