5 Benefits of a Reflective Roof

Published June 12, 2015 by Whirlwind Team

Many contractors and homeowners are unaware of the vital role roofs play in terms of energy efficiency. While much is written on the importance of a tightly sealed home and adequate insulation, much of the solar heat gain a home absorbs is directly related to its roof. Traditional roofs are typically made using darker colors and/or from materials that absorb solar radiation - think asphalt shingles and tiles. Reflective roofs, however, use specialized coatings that reflect the sun's UV rays back into the atmosphere, significantly reducing solar heat gain.

5 Reasons to Use Reflective Roofing Materials for Your Next Construction Project

If you're looking for ways to save money, conserve energy and improve interior comfort, consider the benefits of a reflective roof. Whether you purchase a cool metal roof that is designed and engineered to save you money, or you simply upgrade your current roof with a specialized coating, a reflective roof will provide multi-fold benefits, including:

  1. Improved interior comfort. Nobody wants to live or work in a hot, stuffy building. Reflective roofing materials will direct the sun's rays back into the atmosphere, which significantly reduces the amount of heat transferred from the sun, to the roof, and then into your attic and interior spaces. The U.S. Department of energy states temperatures on a traditional roof can soar upwards of 150° F. Reflective roofs, on the other hand, will be as much as 50° cooler. Temperature control also affects other aspects of interior comfort, including humidity levels. By using heat-mitigating strategies on the exterior of your building, you'll simultaneously improve indoor air quality inside the building. This can reduce moisture and mold accumulation, which causes health issues, not to mention long-term maintenance concerns and structural damage.
  2. Reduced utility spending. Tired of those excessive summertime electric bills? The more your air conditioner runs, the higher those bills will be. Cool metal roofs, or reflective roof coatings, are a great way to keep your home cooler, which simultaneously reduces the amount of time your cooling system runs. In addition to lower energy bills, most owners of reflective roofs notice their HVAC repair and replacement costs are reduced as well since overall wear-and-tear is reduced.
  3. Make the sustainable choice. Increased energy efficiency means less fossil fuel consumption and emissions, two factors that are extremely beneficial to the planet. However, reflective roofs have added environmental benefits. There is a phenomena knows as "the heat island effect," in which micro-climates in cities and urban environments experience distinctly hotter temperatures as a result of collective solar heat gain. This isn't difficult to imagine when think of the grand sum of heat waves that radiate back into the local environment via concrete, asphalt and dark roofing materials. The more reflective roofs there are in a city, urbanscape or commercial district, the less heat will be absorbed and the cooler the temperatures will be all around.
  4. Extended lifespan. While "the elements" are the leading cause of wear and tear of roofing materials, UV rays from the sun are the most damaging culprit of them all. Since white or reflective roofs reflect these rays off the roof and back into the atmosphere, UV damage from the sun is reduced exponentially. Thus, roofs with reflective coatings last longer than their traditional counterparts. If long-term roof sustainability and cost-savings are a priority for you, invest in a cool metal roof, which often comes with warranties of up to 40-years and can easily last as long as 50-years or more with routine maintenance.
  5. Cost saving rebates. Certain municipalities and utility companies offer rebates and incentives to help home and business owners save money when they invest in approved cool roofs and/or products. Visit The Cool Roof Rating Council website to learn more.

One thing to consider: If you live in a climate that has hot summers but cold winters, a reflective roof may not be the best option. The same reflective properties that prevent solar heat gain in the warm months will also inhibit solar absorption during the cool months, when solar heat gain is a more welcome addition, and can be used to reduce heating costs. Thus, if you live in an area like Chicago or Minneapolis, where summers are hot - but winters often mean extended freezing or below-freezing temperatures - an energy analysis should be performed.

Take a look at your energy bills for the previous years and see which costs are higher: annual heating or annual cooling costs. If your annual heating costs are higher, you may want to skip reflective roof coatings and use a lighter colored roof instead to benefit in both seasons. If your cooling costs are higher, a reflective roof may be the best option for you.

Contact the pros at Whirlwind to help determine the best roofing materials for your upcoming construction project.

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