Not all houses can accommodate a living roof literally covered in vegetation, but “going green” can also mean being energy-efficient. There are several ways you can modify your roof to improve your home’s energy usage and protect the environment in the process.
- Cool roofs
Lighter color of these roofs reflects light and heat better than traditional asphalt or dark wood shingles. Lightening the color of your roof will work if you live in an area where the A/C sees more action than the heater. On a hot summer day, when the outside temperature reaches 95 degrees, a dark-colored roof can heat up to 175 degrees, conducting much higher temperature to the rooms below.
- Cool roof benefits
A cool roof is 50 – 60 degrees cooler than a regular dark-dark colored roof. It saves energy by decreasing the solar gain and heat retention of your home. As a result, your home needs less cooling and is more comfortable to live in. Cool roofs also reduce the “heat island” effect which is a big problem in urban areas.
- Cool roof DIY
The simplest way is to apply a cool roof coating onto the existing roof. If you have set your goal to re-roofing, or you are building a new home from scratch, you may want to replace dark shingles or asphalt panels with lighter-colored options. Reinforced white PVC membranes work well with flat-top roofs. While many manufacturers will claim that their products are cool, the only way to determine the characteristics is to compare their emissivity and productivity numbers.
- Roof insulation
A poorly insulated roof needs more air conditioning in the summer and more heating in the winter, making the attic space unsuitable for a bedroom or study. On the other hand, the attic is easy to access and the insulation placed under the roof provides immediate results. Still, choosing the best insulation isn’t always easy, which is why genuine pros always consider material performance as well as suitability for your home. A roof that is insulated properly can sometimes even make your HVAC system redundant, or reduce its use drastically.
- How to insulate from below
The insulation material that you will use depends on your roof type and the climate you live in. The solution can vary from widely available fiberglass and cotton batting to advanced materials, like home foam and cellulose. For homes with open beams, you should consider a radiant barrier, which is a reflective film wrapped around beams that reflects the heat. Even if you live in hot and dry climate, leaving some space between the insulation and the roof will prevent mold growth.
- Re-roof with sustainable materials
Your roof is exposed to weather changes and huge amounts of water (much of it corrosive) over its life time. As it contracts and expands, it loosens fasteners, rubbers, joints, cracking flashing and opening seams. All of these changes wear it out and eventually you’ll have to call a professional to deal with roof leaks.
New green roofing materials are an excellent option if you are putting a roof on a new house or re-roofing an existing one. This trend is in full swing, so if you want to know the best option for your home, you need to check your home’s parameters, like location and climate, rather than focusing just on cool new materials. On the other hand, certain traditional materials, like wood shingles, are not recommended due to a considerably shorter lifespan.
The first step in deciding what green roof option will work best for you is understanding your home characteristics. The simplest and the most affordable way is to coat the existing roof with light-colored roof paint. Underroof insulation works best with homes with readily accessible attics that could be repurposed into comfortable living quarters once the roof is insulated.