The color of your roof affects the temperature inside your home. Dark surfaces absorb the sun's heat and help reduce your heating bills in winter. In summer, a dark roof increases air conditioning bills as you struggle to keep your home's interior cool. Shingles installed in predominantly warm climates should ideally be white. U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu estimates that turning all of the world's roofs white would, in 20 years, eliminate one year's worth of global greenhouse gas emissions.
One Color Does Not Fit All
In areas that experience long, cold winters, black is best. Black shingles absorb the most solar energy. thereby reducing heating bills. The ideal, therefore, would be a white roof in summer and a black roof in winter. You do, however, have other considerations for color choice besides energy savings. You may wish to color coordinate roof shingles to complement siding or brick colors. Dark colors will make your roof look larger, and light colors will make it appear smaller.
Flat Roof Alternatives
For a flat roof in a sunny location you may wish to "go green." Planting a rooftop garden provides a cooler surface that absorbs water and keeps storm water from overwhelming your city's sewer system. A rooftop garden covered with plants that grow to varying heights adds diversity to the landscape and provides an appealing habitat for birds. Solar panels, added to a shingled roof of any color, taps solar energy and reduces grid-based energy consumption.
Shingle Type Affects Color Choice
Asphalt shingles are the most affordable option. Some asphalt shingles feature colored edges that make them look thicker. Color choice in asphalt is a question of personal preference. Metal roofs cost three to four times more than asphalt but many feature high reflectance paint that reduce heat absorption. White metal shingles reflect more than 60 percent of the sun's energy. Darker colors offer 25 percent reflectance. The higher the reflectance value, the greater your energy savings in hot weather.
Recent Advancements in Shingle Technology
A team of recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduates have developed a new shingle that changes color with temperature fluctuations. The tiles become white in warm weather and turn black in cold. The affect is achieved by placing a common commercial polymer in a water solution and encapsulating it between flexible layers of plastic with a dark layer at the back. The point of change temperature is adjusted by changing the specific formulations. The team is also working on a spray-on version that could be applied to existing roof surfaces. A marketable product is not yet available.
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