Energy efficiency is as much about small choices as large ones. When it comes to your roof, there is a great deal of potential for wasted energy due to the sheer size of the roof and how much air inside your home it is keeping insulated. Whether you're trying to keep the heat in or out, even small and inexpensive improvements to your roof's energy efficiency can make a big difference to the bottom line of your home's energy usage, and therefore the energy bill.
Here are some improvements you can make. You don't need to do them all at once, so you can spread them out as spare funds and patience allows. By the time you come to sell your house, you will have an energy efficient roof to boast about!
Make sure your roof is cool
Though most traditional roofs are made of dark shingles or black asphalt, light roofs are actually more efficient. A dark roof will increase temperatures and heat up your home quickly, so a 90-degree day outside turns into a 100-degree day inside, and hot asphalt tiles on the roof can heat up to over 150 degrees. Light-colored roofs reflect heat instead of absorbing it, which saves energy.
In order to cool down an existing roof, you can put a cool roof coating on top. White cool-roof coating is available online and in stores, and will help reflect the passive heat from the sun's rays. Roll roofing doesn't look very attractive, especially over large roofs, but replacing your own shingles is the next-best option. Make sure that when you do replace your roof, you choose light-colored shingles or asphalt.
Insulate the bottom of your roof
To save energy and green your home, you can insulate your roof from below. The attic is the best place to do this, as a well-insulated roof above your attic will make the attic habitable in addition to providing many heating and cooling benefits. Proper insulation will make it easier to keep the air conditioning off and will even help in the winter as you don't have to turn the heat on until a little later in the year. Your electricity bill will drop.
There are many different insulation types for different houses in different climates. You might choose cellulose insulation, fiberglass, or cotton batting. Some people with open beams or cathedral ceilings use a radiant barrier wrapped around beams to reflect heat out. Make sure you allow for an air-space so moisture doesn't lead to mildew.
Put a new roof on your home
If it's coming up to the time when you would otherwise need to replace your roof, doing a replacement a little early can help drastically reduce your energy bills and save you from having to scramble for a roofing company while you plug the leaks. Make sure you look at green options, but don't go for wood shingles, which will degrade too fast. Metal roofs save a lot of energy, while tile roof or asphalt are better choices in certain climates.
Roofing experts can help you figure out what type of roof your home needs in order to stay cool, be green, and last a long time without needing to replace the roof again. Since this is the most expensive option and also comes with the most hassle, you'll want to take the time to do it right.
Improving your home's energy efficiency doesn't have to involve expensive and elaborate projects. The first two fixes are relatively inexpensive and short-term solutions for improving your roof's energy efficiency, and when it comes time to replace the roof, choosing the right material can significantly slash energy bill costs.
Michael M. Bazile is a self-confessed tree hugger. An avid blogger, he enjoys sharing his tips and advice on reducing our carbon footprint by posting on various websites.