Roofing materials don't change much but now we have new, energy efficient roofing shingles (Certainteel's Landmark Solaris shingles shown on left). Roofs vary depending on where you live, from asphalt shingles in the northeast US to ceramic tile in the south. There are also green roof technologies, especially in cities where residents benefit from park like roofs, and opportunities to garden among the towering buildings.
Manufacturers today are bringing more energy efficient products to market as the EPA estimates about $40 billion is spent annually in the US on air-condition buildings, or one-sixth of all electricity generated!
Commercial building focuses on construction costs and operating efficiency so a white roof is an acceptable solution. Only now are home owners beginning to find roofing shingles that are energy efficient AND adhere to our expectations of what a roof should look like. The new roofing materials focus on the effect the sun has on a house, either reflecting the sunlight to reduce unwanted warming or capturing the sunlight and converting it into energy. The bottom line is products that look similar to what we expect a roof to look like, while reducing heating and cooling costs.
Certainteed offers a solar reflective asphalt roofing shingle (shown here) which contains advanced colored granules that reflect the suns rays and can reduce a roofs temperature by as much as 20% in the summer. This product and others listed on the Energy Star site, are eligible for the 2009-2010 energy tax credit up to $1,500.The video below shows how new solar roofing integrates with traditional shingles providing a more visually pleasing solution versus older solar panels that sat on top of your roof. While the initial investment is rather steep, the savings are there in areas with high energy costs and a significant number of sunny days like California. These panels in fact, convert solar energy into electricity so if you want to learn more, watch this video from HGTV.
The Energy Star site provides a “Roofing Comparison Calculator“ to help you evaluate the savings you can expect by installing one of these new roofs. Interesting facts to consider in your planning:
- Savings come from a reduction in air conditioning costs … so sorry, you won't save money if your home isn't air conditioned although your house will be cooler and more comfortable.
- Savings are calculated based on the square footage of the floor covered by the roof, i.e. the living space that won't need as much air conditioning when the roof reflects sunlight … and therefore absorbs less heat.
- Where the savings result from less demand on your cooling system, there will be an increase in heating your home in the winter as less heat will be absorbed from the sun. The calculator calculates the net savings from both of these.
- The calculator takes into account how much insulation you have in your roof, or more common the insulation on the attic floor which sits just above your living space that you pay to heat and cool. Insulation already reduces the loss of heat or cooled air. Solar shingles will reduce the heat in your attic and help reduce the demand on ventilation of this space which is a common problem.