Energy-Efficient Roofing Materials: A Guide To New Roofing

July 27, 2021

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Your local mailman just delivered the mail and you instantly think about how you don't have energy-efficient roofing materials. Of course, you'd hate to check your mailbox because you are dreading your electric bill. It has been scorching during these past few months.  So, you have had to run your electricity at a very low temperature most of the day to keep it cool.  You are sure that the meter reading will show that you have used substantially more energy than you usually do during the summer months. So, you open your mailbox, and sure enough, your electric bill is there. When you open your bill, it is, as anticipated, extremely high. What can you do to get relief during this heatwave? Unfortunately, your current roof may be to blame for much of your energy loss. 

The most cost-effective and energy-efficient roofing materials include asphalt, tile, and metal. Lighter color roofs are also more energy-efficient as they absorb less sunlight and keep the home cooler in the summer months.

This guide will help you learn more about energy-efficient roofing materials.  You will also learn how these materials help you save money on energy bills in the long term.

What Are the Most Energy-Efficient Roofing Materials?

best roofing materials for energy efficiency

Economical roofing material is roofing material that is cost-effective for you to install and helps you to save money because it improves energy efficiency.  There are a variety of roofing materials that a roofing contractor can use on your home.  However, the ones that are most cost-effective and energy-efficient are as follows: 

  • Asphalt
  • Tile
  • Metal 

Asphalt roofing materials come in a wide range of color options.  It is somewhat durable, usually lasting up to 20 years.  Although it is not as durable as other roofing options, it is undoubtedly the most cost-effective choice. They are also very fire-resistant.

Tile has been a roofing option for many years.  It is very durable, lasting up to 50 years or more if properly maintained. Although these roofs are not as economical as asphalt roofs at installation, they are very economical when observing their long-term value.  Usually made of clay, ceramic, or concrete, these tiles are very water, wind, and fire-resistant. 

Metal is the new roofing option on the block, and it's an excellent option for most climates.  These are one of the most durable roofing materials available, lasting up to 70 years or more.  Between tile and asphalt, metal falls in between the two in terms of cost-effectiveness. This roofing material is one of the most long-lasting options.  It is also the most fire-resistant and can withstand very high winds. Another plus is that, unlike most other roofs, it requires very little maintenance.

Energy-Efficient Roofing Materials Explained

Energy-efficient roofing materials are roofing that is certified as an Energy Star roofing. Energy Star certified products are certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help homeowners save on energy.  Energy-efficient roofs keep the UV rays from making the house too hot in the summer and keep the heat contained in the house in winter.  This reduces the homeowner's need to rely heavily on energy and ultimately lowers energy bills.  

contractor working with energy-efficient roofing materials

When it comes to roof material, the shingles or roof panels themselves may be certified as Energy Star roofing material.  Or they may contain reflective material within them that keeps the home from absorbing so much of the sun's heat. Aside from being labeled as energy-efficient roofing materials by Energy Star, energy-efficient roofing can also be achieved by the following: 

  • Installing a lighter color roofing material, known as a cool roof
  • Improving the insulation under the roof
  • Making sure that the attic is adequately ventilated 

Ensuring that your roofer is using Energy Star roofing materials will do a lot to save you money on energy bills in the long term. But these additional tips can help lower your expenses even more.  For instance, if you are getting new roofing material installed, try to make sure that you choose lighter colors with a reflective coating.  

Cool roofs may only raise the temperature of your roof by about five to ten degrees, unlike regular darker roofs, which can raise temperatures as much as 50 to 100 degrees. However, a roofer should certainly ensure that you have proper insulation between the roof and the attic ceiling.  In terms of your attic's ventilation, an HVAC contractor will explore these options with you.

The Color of Energy-Efficient Roofing Materials and How it Relates to Energy-Efficiency

If you are considering getting your roof replaced, you may be tempted to choose a darker color because that's the color currently on the roof, or you may choose it for aesthetic reasons.  Intuitively, it does seem like darker roofs will keep the house cooler.  After all, standing in the shade on a hot day does make it slightly cooler than standing directly in the sunlight.  However, the opposite is true.  Darker colors tend to absorb light.  Therefore, a darker-colored roof will make your home hotter in the summer.  This, which in turn, forces you to use your AC much more.   

dark colored roof

Darker roofs help contribute to the urban heat island.  According to the EPA, this is an unnatural heat effect caused by pavement and buildings that absorb heat.  This is felt the most in urban areas because there is so little greenery in these areas. These dark roofs help contribute to this phenomenon, not only making your home hot but heating the entire neighborhood where you live. In addition, dark roofs trap heat which warms the plywood under your roof shingles and makes the attic ten to fifteen degrees hotter than the outside temperature.  

Although darker roofs get a bad reputation because of the increased heat they attract, this is not bad unless you live in a hot climate.  Since it is already hot in this region, you should do whatever you can to bring down the temperatures in your home and cut energy costs. Replacing your darker-colored roof with a lighter one is a great start.    

The Best Color Roof for Energy Efficiency

As a general rule, darker colors absorb while lighter colors deflect.  This rule also applies to roofs.  On a sweltering day, roof temperatures can get up to 50 degrees or higher if darker colored roofing materials are used.  The hot heat on roofs, especially asphalt ones, will make the attic space much hotter. This, in turn, will make your entire house hotter, forcing your HVAC to work overtime to keep your home cool. Lighter-colored roofing material, known as cool roofs, only raises the roof's temperature by five to ten degrees.  The attic space below is barely affected and will likely be the same as outside temperatures.  Roofs with lighter colors are less likely to heat the house.  As a result, you will not have to run your energy longer or at a lower temperature in the summer to keep your home cool.  

So, if lighter-colored roofs are more energy-efficient, which color roof is best?  White roofs would be the best option, particularly in hot climates.  White roofs deflect 60 to 85 percent of the UV rays hitting your home, which can drastically lower the temperature of your roof.  This, coupled with an energy-efficient roofing material such as metal, can go a long way towards reducing your energy bills.  You may be able to reduce your energy costs in summer by as much as 40 percent.  While white may not be your first choice to make your home's roof more elegant, it certainly will work wonders at making your home more energy-efficient and reducing your energy costs in the long term.

How Can I Make My Roof More Energy-Efficient?

Working with a roofer and getting energy-efficient roofing materials installed and opting for lighter roofing colors to make a "cool roof" is the first way you should try to make your roof more energy-efficient. The best roofing material for improved energy efficiency is metal.  Metal is a highly reflective material that will block most sun's rays from your house and keep your roof space cool. In addition, white metal can help cut costs.  However, if you don't want a metal roof, the next best option is to choose other roofing materials such as asphalt or tile in a lighter color.  

light colored roof for energy efficiency

Improving your attic space will also work wonders at cooling down your home. However, there is another way to make your roof more energy-efficient so that you can regulate the temperature in your home and reduce expenses. This is by creating green roofs. A green roof is simply a roof garden. The way green roofs work is to provide shade and reduce the effect of heat islands created by concrete and dark roofing in the local area.  

If you want to make a green roof, the first step is to ensure that your roof can handle such an addition.  A contractor will need to inspect your roof to make sure that there are no repairs that are required.  Your insulation should be intact, and there should be no leaks or cracks in your roof. Another critical thing to keep in mind when installing a green roof is to make sure that the slope of your roof isn't too steep. A slight slope is ok as long as you can safely walk around on top of your roof. After all, your green roof will be a garden, and you will need to frequent it often.  Therefore, you have to be able to walk around on the roof safely and the roof should also be easily accessible. 

If your roof can handle a green roof, then the next most important thing is to determine what type of green roof you want.  Do you want to grow only plants, or do you intend to grow herbs and other edibles? After choosing the plants you want, you can organize your garden.  Make sure that you create a walkway for you to maneuver through to care for your plants.  Also, some people use trays while others use pots. 

The choice is up to you. Just make sure that your plants and roof have proper ventilation and water doesn't stagnate on your roof. Another consideration is whether you want to have seating. Sometimes you may want to enjoy the beauty of your garden. Therefore, an outdoor bench or patio chair may be helpful to add to your roof if space permits. Not only will you turn up the charm with a green roof, but you can also lower the heat on your roof by as much as 30 degrees. Thus, making the interior of your home much cooler.

Potential Energy Savings

home with energy-efficient roofing

After making changes to your roof, what type of changes will you see with your energy bills? Well, a new roof, in general, will definitely make your home more energy-efficient. Getting rid of cracked or damaged tiles or asphalt will keep the sun out. Choosing lighter roofing material will make the roof temperatures cooler.  Making these changes to your home can substantially decrease your energy bills. A recent study concluded that energy savings per year on cool roofing averaged about 50 cents per square foot.  For an 1800 square foot roof, your annual savings could reach 900 dollars! 


So, how will you revamp your roof to make it more energy-efficient? There are certainly many options available for you. It may be good to choose a white metal roof to give you optimal energy efficiency.  Both the color and the type of roof are highly reflective and considered to be one of the most energy-efficient roofing materials out there.  

If metal or white isn't your thing, then it is best to opt for roofing material such as asphalt or tile in a lighter color.  Both materials are cost-effective, and the lighter color will provide you with greater energy efficiency. If you have a flat roof or a roof with a low pitch, a green roof may also be a great choice.  You will just need to work with a roofing contractor to ensure that the changes you want to make to your roof with the garden are feasible. In addition, a roofer may need to ensure that your roof materials are water-resistant, especially since you will be watering your garden occasionally. 

Are you ready to have a roofing contractor inspect your roof and provide you with more information on making it more energy-efficient? Contact one of our highly skilled roof contractors at The Sarasota Roofers today to learn more about our energy-efficient roof materials and get your free estimate.

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