Improving the Energy Efficiency of Your Roof

roof efficiencyImage by Jacek Abramowicz from Pixabay

For today’s homeowners, “going green” is more than just a buzzword. Energy efficiency is at the core of the most popular home upgrades U.S. homeowners are making. From small projects such as installing an energy-conserving smart thermostat to larger ones like adding attic and wall insulation. However, there’s one big way to add efficiency to the home that often gets overlooked—even if it’s right overhead. Roof efficiency.

Your home’s roof plays a key role in how much energy your home conserves. In fact, the right roof can lower your utility bills. It can help with the urban heat island effect, and even reduce your home’s total carbon footprint.

To get an assessment of just how green your current roof is, talk to an experienced roof repair company in your area. They’ll be able to provide you with information about alternative roofing options beyond those discussed in this article.

The type of roof matters

Tile Roofs

In the sunshine-soaked states of California, Nevada, and Arizona, tile is both a great aesthetic fit. Adding on, it is an energy-efficient roofing material too. Clay, concrete, and sandcast tiles are manufactured in an earth-friendly manner and have a long lifespan. They often hold up for 50 years or more. This means great roof efficiency.

Tile is highly effective at blocking heat energy from getting through the roof. Combined with attic insulation, a tile roof can greatly reduce a home’s summer cooling bills and energy waste. The use of light-colored concrete tiles on homes can even help American cities reduce the urban heat island effect.

Tile also has two other environmental benefits worth noting:

  • Reuse: As a tile roof nears the end of its lifespan and the tiles need to be replaced, the old tiles can be diverted from the landfill by means of recycling. Old roof tiles often get reused or repurposed for manufacturing, reducing landfill accumulation.
  • Local Manufacturing: Due to the ease of its manufacture and the weight of the materials, most tile is manufactured locally instead of being shipped globally by trucks and ocean freighters. This reduces its overall carbon footprint.

Foam Roofs

Spray-foam roofs are incredibly versatile—and energy-efficient. Compared to every other roofing material, foam delivers the best r-value per-inch installed. Foam effectively acts as a second layer of insulation, blocking heat from getting in the building during the summer and retaining heat energy better during the colder months of the year. The white sheen of a foam roof reflects sunlight instead of absorbing it, aiding in both the building’s energy efficiency and helping to reduce the urban heat island effect.

The manufacturing process for foam roofs has a low carbon footprint. The materials commonly used in roofing foam do not contain chlorofluorocarbons or ozone-depleting gases. Once installed on the roof, the foam is there to stay: the only upkeep required is the reapplication of a protective coat. Hypothetically, the roof efficiency of foam is great. With proper recoating, a foam roof will last as long as the building does. This reduces landfill waste and limits the overall manufacturing of the roofing material.

Organic shingles

Many American homes feature shingle roofs. One environmentally conscious option for such homes are organic-based shingles. These shingles typically feature a base of recycled paper that is then coated in asphalt to make the shingle waterproof. Due to the materials used, these shingles involve less carbon pollution in their manufacturing process than more commonly used fiberglass shingles.

It is important to note that not all organic shingles are made the same. Be sure to research the brand and manufacturer to make sure that their shingles live up to expectations. One of the potential tradeoffs of installing organic shingles as opposed to fiberglass ones is their reduced longevity, which could negate some of their advantages as a green building material.

Make your existing roof better for the environment

Even if you are not at the point of needing a new roof, you can take steps to boost the energy efficiency of your existing one. Here are two directions to consider:

  • Installing solar panels: Solar panels are a win-win for homeowners. Not only do they keep heat energy off of the roof structure, but they also convert that sunlight into renewable energy for the home to use. In this way, it could be argued that solar panels are the most environmentally friendly form of roofing. 
  • Adding attic insulation: Your home’s attic and roof are all part of one, energy-conserving system. By adding sufficient attic insulation, you can prevent heating and cooling from escaping through the attic and roof. As a result, both your energy usage and your utility bills will be reduced.

Talk to an experienced roofing contractor about your options

If you’re looking to upgrade the roof efficiency of yours, we recommend that you contact an experienced roofing contractor in your area. Ask about available materials. Today’s roofers know how important sustainability is to their industry. They should be able to provide you with resources, material options, and other information about how to make your roof green.

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.

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