Why Cool Roofs are a trend in 2018
Dallas is on track to break records for having one of the hottest summers since 2011 and recently broke the 1925 record for the hottest day ever at a scorching 118 degrees. The state of Texas even shattered its power-demand record for two days in a row during the month of July—and it’s no wonder. When the temperatures top 100 for days on end, your home can feel like a wood-burning oven if the air conditioning isn’t cranked 24/7. That’s why so many homeowners are turning to cool roofs to beat the heat!
Over-running the air conditioning not only takes a toll on the power grid and the environment, it takes a big hit to your wallet when the electric bill comes. This is where energy-saving hacks come in to help keep your expensive air conditioned cold air from escaping and keep the heatwave of the summer out.
One way to do that is to look to the roof of your home or commercial building. Just as your roof plays a major role in keeping out harsh elements all year around, it’s equally as essential to keeping the cool air in and reflecting the hot sun away. A cool roof can dramatically cut energy costs and result in an overall noticeably cooler home in the warmer months.
There are many different materials you can use for a roof and all have their advantages and disadvantages as far as cost, durability, longevity and appearance. But when it comes to being able to keep your house cooler in hot climates, there are select roofing materials that are the best for the job.
What Exactly Is A Cool Roof?
A cool roof is essentially one that has been designed to reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat than a standard roof. The roof is designed to stay cooler and reduce the amount of heat conducted to the home or building below.
A regular roof can spike 50 degrees or more above the outside Dallas temperature—that’s at least 150 degrees on a typical summer day. What a cool roof does is make your roof temperature about equal to the outside air, which doesn’t sound cool at all. But it’s saving at least 50 degrees of heat from getting into your house. It’s the difference between being able to fry an egg on your rooftop—or being able to touch it without getting burned.=
Cool roofs don’t look alike and can be as simple as a coating or as creative as colorful terracotta tiles. They’re usually white or bright colors, but can also be dark solar panels or even natural grass. Generally, a cool roof reflects the sun’s heat and UV rays and is an energy-saving, sustainability concept with a few defining characteristics:
- Cool roofs absorb less heat
- Cool roofs reflect more sunlight
- Cool roofs reduce energy consumption
The two basic characteristics that determine the “coolness” of a roof are solar reflectance and thermal emittance. Both properties are rated on a scale from 0 to 1, where 1 is the most reflective or emissive. The Cool Roof Rating Council measures these two properties for cool roofing products, both for the product’s initial values and after three years of outdoor exposure.
There are many cool roof color products using darker pigments that are still highly reflective in the near infrared (non-visible) portion of the solar spectrum. Because a white roof strongly reflects both visible and near infrared sunlight, a white roof will typically be cooler than a cool colored roof.
Many times, cool roofs are constructed on top of an existing roofing system or are comprised of flat roofs with different coatings. But no matter how it’s constructed, a cool roof is the definition of sustainable in many ways, not only saving energy consumption, but by extending the life of the roof as well.
Benefits of Cool Roofs
One of the ways to greatly increase the comfort levels inside your home is by reducing temperature fluctuations. But climate control can be difficult to achieve even with the best HVAC system if your roof is absorbing scorching heat day after day and distributing it below.
A cool roof can benefit your home and your family by:
- Reducing air conditioning needs
- Lowering energy bills
- Improving overall climate stability
- Improving indoor comfort for non-air conditioned spaces (like garages)
- Decreasing roof temperature
- Prolong the life of your air conditioning system
- Lowering roof maintenance costs and extending roof life
- Reducing solid waste by avoiding re-roofing costs
- Improve the aesthetics of your roof
The average energy savings from a cool roof ranges 7-15% of total cooling costs.
Cool roofs can also benefit the environment, especially when many buildings in a community have them. Dallas, like many metropolitan areas, is affected by a Heat Island Effect or Urban Heat Island, making it 8-12 degrees hotter than than the outlying suburbs.
By their nature, concrete, asphalt and buildings tend to absorb heat, and a lack of trees as well as other plant life prevents natural cooling. Urban and metropolitan areas produce urban heat islands whereby infrastructure acts to impact the natural climate of the area. Dependent on architectural design, infrastructure will have different localized reflectivity, producing varying degrees of heating. Roofing, and specifically cool roofing is a major factor in reducing the localized urban heat island effect. Cool roofs (and even cool sidewalks and parking lots) essentially lower the temperature of the air by several degrees.
Clusters of cool roofs can:
- Reduce local air temperatures (the urban heat island effect)
- Lower peak electricity demand, which can help prevent power outages
- Reduce power plant emissions, by reducing cooling energy use in buildings.
What Kind Of Roof Is Best For Warmer Climates?
A roof that’s well-suited to the high temperatures of a Dallas, Texas summer will reflect or release the sun’s rays rather than absorb them. A roofing material chosen with cooling in mind will make your home or commercial building more comfortable and energy efficient. Evidence shows that lighter materials reflect more sun and don’t heat up the internal roof structure as much as black.
Extreme heat and ultraviolet rays also have the potential to cause severe damage to many types of common roofing materials and products. Luckily there are plenty of cool roof alternatives that are able to withstand these typical Texas conditions.
Roofing needs in the Dallas area require special consideration because of the amount of sun that homes and buildings withstand each day. Between the constant battering from the sun’s ultraviolet rays and unpredictable shifts in temperature, it can spell disaster when combined with the wrong roofing material and shoddy workmanship.
While there are many types of cool roofing material to choose from, a general rule of thumb is that spray foam and membrane are better on flat or low slope roofs, while shingles and metal are better for pitched roofs.
Cool Roofing Material Explained
Texas has seen more 100 degrees days lately than it has in years. A poorly made roof of the wrong materials degrades in this kind of intense heat, cracking and breaking down over time. The wrong roof also transfers heat from the sun directly through the surface and into your home or commercial building. That process, in turn, drives up energy costs from home cooling, making certain materials a lot less energy-efficient than others. Here are some materials to consider if you’re looking for a cool roof:
- Terra-Cotta Tiles. Terra-cotta literally means “cooked earth” in Italian, and it’s that baking process in a kiln that gives these tiles their weather-resistant properties. These clay tiles have been known for centuries for their ability to stand up to heat and they can last 50 years or more. These tiles also have a natural airspace that creates ventilation, allowing air to circulate beneath the surface.
- Concrete Tiles and Slab. The thickness of concrete means it takes longer to heat in the sun, which means it takes longer to absorb that heat back into your home. Concrete S-tiles are laid in a wave pattern, which reduces heat transfer.
- Synthetic Membrane. These synthetic rubber-like substances are exceptionally sturdy in extreme conditions and particularly effective at heat reduction when coated with titanium dioxide.
- Metal. With benefits ranging from low maintenance to energy efficiency, metal roofs are getting over the bad rap they once had. Frequently manufactured from recycled materials, metal roofing systems include airspace that blocks heat transference from the roof to the home or building below.
- Slate. Known as one of the highest quality, longest lasting roofing materials on the market, slate is a stone formed by intense heat underground. It can reduce heat transfer in your attic by up to 95 percent with good insulation and can last for 100 years.
- Green or “Living” Roofs. Although not quite a “thing” in the Dallas Metroplex yet, rooftops covered in moss and plants is a growing trend that has practical value beyond its charm. Green roofs last longer than conventional roofs and reduce energy costs with natural insulation. Green roofs absorb heat and on a wider scale, improve air quality and help reduce the Urban Heat Island Effect.
Pros And Cons Of Getting A Cool Roof
On a steamy Dallas summer day, would you dress in all black? Not likely! It’s a known fact that darker colors absorb the heat and it’s not a surprise that a lighter color roof would reflect the sun just as a darker color would absorb it. But with every good there is sometimes a down side.
According to the Department of Energy, Texas roofs can easily soar to 150 degrees Fahrenheit on the hottest days, whereas installing a cool roof reduces those surface temperatures by as much as 50 degrees. When energy experts evaluated cool roofs in Texas, they found that their installation reduced electricity demand during peak power times by as much as 30 percent.
So what’s the downside? These types of roofs can possibly contribute to global warming rather than reducing it. A chain reaction might increase the amount of sun the area receives while the white surfaces reduces the vertical transport of moisture to the atmosphere, limiting cloud coverage.
That’s probably not enough of a reason to discount a cool roof, as the energy savings and waste reduction offset global warming. Like anything else, it’s really a matter of weighing the pros and cons and asking a trusted roofing expert to go over the details.
Choosing The Best Cool Roofing Expert
The best way of protecting one of your biggest investments—your home or commercial building—is by installing a high quality and thoroughly durable roofing system that is also “cool” by definition.
That means your roof will be energy efficient, environmentally friendly and won’t demand a lot of maintenance and future repairs. Who could want more from the very thing that will also keep you, your family and belongings safe, dry and comfortable? Your roof might be the most undervalued part of your home or building.
When you’re looking for a cool roofer, turn to a local Dallas roofing contractor who is also known as a one-stop contractor. You’ll want to deal with someone who not only knows roofing, but also is intimate with the Dallas-area Texas heat and is also particularly familiar with the more recent heat waves. The last thing you want to do is go with a newcomer from outside the area who is claiming to know “cool roofing” but really has no clue about Texas.
With Concord Roofing & Construction, you will immediately be assigned to a project manager who will assess your situation, inspect your roof and provide you with a comprehensive assessment and understanding of the entire process and next steps.
Our goal is to fix your roof in a timely and professional manner. If your insurance company is involved, we will educate you on how to deal with this process, meet the adjuster to go over the scope of work, and be there to guide you through this complex process from start to finish. Call us today at 214-661-1569 for a free, no obligation evaluation.