When choosing a new roof for your Alpha, NJ, home, factors like cost, aesthetics, and durability are likely top priorities. However, efficiency is a key consideration as well. When it comes to cutting your energy bills and reducing your carbon footprint, your choice of roofing materials is important. According to the Green Building Alliance, only 10% of roofs throughout the nation are built with sufficiently high solar reflectance indexes and good ventilation. Read on to find out why these things matter and how you can benefit from a roof that’s built for efficiency.
What Is a Roof’s Solar Reflectance Index?
Your roof is your home’s first barrier against many of the natural elements. It blocks rain, hail, sleet, and other freezing precipitation. It also offers UV-ray protection and prevents solar energy from overheating the building interior. Energy-efficient roofs are built with materials that reflect heat rather than absorb it and increase their ability to keep indoor temperatures at a moderate level.
The solar reflectance index (SRI) of roofing materials measures their ability to reflect heat. SRIs range from one to 100, with one being the lowest possible SRI and 100 being the highest. Raising the SRI of a roof by just 15 can lower its temperature by 13 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, most homes in the United States have dark-colored and largely non-reflective roofing materials. Whether for aesthetic purposes or due to budget constraints, some of these roofing systems can be up to 100 degrees hotter than the temperature outdoors.
If this is the case with your roof, your air conditioner could be working twice as hard or harder to maintain the indoor temperature you want than it would with a more efficient roof. Laboring under the constant cooling demands of an inefficient roof can shorten an air conditioner’s lifespan and set the stage for costly, stress-related repairs.
Why Ventilation Matters
Attic areas are subject to the high heat gained from unreflected solar energy. A home with a non-reflective roof or a roof with a low SRI could have attic temperatures of 150 degrees Fahrenheit and above. If this heat isn’t released, it will eventually find its way into living areas and create more work and stress for residential cooling systems. Ventilation allows for constant air exchange in attics such that hot indoor air moves outside, and fresh, cool outdoor air flows in.
This constant air exchange provides a wealth of benefits. In some homes, it improves indoor air quality by releasing gaseous contaminants like formaldehyde, benzene, or other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In others, it protects overheated roofs from outright failure. Good attic ventilation gives absorbed heat a place to go so that roofing materials aren’t reaching and maintaining dangerously high temperatures throughout summer.
What Are the Benefits of Upgrading to a More Efficient Roof
Energy Star, a joint program of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), refers to energy-efficient roofing as “cool” roofing. As per Energy Star, cool roofs reflect more solar energy than they absorb. They also lower home cooling costs, create safer and more comfortable building interiors, and improve conditions in spaces that don’t get adequate AC service.
Cool Roofs Could Qualify Homeowners for Generous Rebates
Installing a cool roof could qualify you for a generous tax rebate under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. This act allocated $8.8 billion for energy upgrades and efficiency improvements, including efficiency improvements made to residential roofing. As per Energy Star, new, efficient roofing could qualify you for rebates and other savings through your utility company or programs managed by the state.
Cool Roofs Help Older Heat Pumps and ACs
Replacing old and low-performing HVAC equipment is an effective way to reduce your energy costs. After all, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), air conditioner use alone accounts for about 17% of the average energy bill. However, if you desperately need a new roof and aren’t quite due for an AC replacement, choosing energy-efficient roofing materials could solve both problems at once.
With your home absorbing and retaining far less solar heat, your current cooling equipment won’t have to work as hard. Moreover, it will be far better able to cool the building interior noticeably.
Your New Roof Will Last Longer
Your choice of roof colors could surprisingly impact your roof’s lifespan. When paired with other efficient elements, light-colored roofs don’t overheat. Roofs that aren’t consistently reaching 150 degrees Fahrenheit or higher tend to last longer than roofs that absorb heat rather than reflect it. High temperatures dry out protective shingle oils, shorten the duration of adhesive backing, and lead to warped building materials, loose nails, and other structural concerns.
You May Even Be Able to Downsize Your Cooling Equipment
Among the many benefits of cool roofs cited by Energy Star is the ability to downsize home cooling equipment in some instances. When heat pumps and ACs are accurately sized using the Manual J Load calculation, HVAC companies account for factors like insulation, roofing materials, and attic ventilation. Thus, choosing an efficient roof now could make your future AC or heat pump replacement projects much cheaper.
Which Roofing Materials Are Energy-Efficient?
Asphalt shingles are currently the top choice in roofing materials across the nation. These shingles are low in cost, aesthetically pleasing, and fairly long-lasting. The average lifespan of an asphalt shingle roof is between 15 and 30 years.
However, asphalt shingle roofs tend to absorb heat rather than reflect it. Even entry-level solar-reflectance (SR) asphalt shingles have SRIs between just 17 and 21. Premium, all-white SR asphalt shingles have SRIs of 30, but this index declines as time goes on. Fortunately, Energy Star has offered ratings and general assessments of multiple energy-efficient roofing materials, making it possible to spot the highest performers.
Installing an all-metal roof might seem counterproductive to creating a cool and efficient home. However, metal roofs are highly reflective. Metals grow hot to the touch when exposed to sunlight for long periods due to their high SRIs rather than heat retention. Metal roofs also outlast asphalt shingles with an average lifespan of 50 years. Some metal roofing systems can even last seven decades or more.
There’s also the opportunity to choose head-turning metals with intrinsic value that boost your home’s worth, marketability, and aesthetics. For instance, installing an all-copper roof with coordinating gutters and downspouts will both improve your home’s efficiency and elevate your investment.
The Efficiency Benefits of Tile Roofing
Tile isn’t a naturally reflective material by itself, but it can be treated to increase its reflectivity. You can choose roof tiles made from natural stone, concrete, or clay. Some clay and concrete tile roofs can last a full century. Tile roofs have sustainable designs, are low-maintenance and weather-resistant, and are available in a vast range of styles.
We help residents of Alpha make informed decisions about their roofs. We offer new siding and gutters, roof repair and replacement services, and storm damage repairs. We also offer an impressive selection of efficient roofing materials. To schedule an appointment, get in touch with Warren Thompson & Son Roofing & Siding today!