What do you know about the reflectivity? If your knowledge is limited to which stores feature the most flattering mirrors, then you may be facing much higher energy costs than you should. Regardless of your political views concerning the cause of global warming, the data could not be more clear: it's getting got-dang hotter everywhere! And just in case you don't think global warming--whatever the cause--is happening fast enough to affect you right now, you might want to take a look at your power bills over the last ten summers or so. Chances are you will notice a fairly graphic trend upward.
The hotter the temperature outside, the more energy it requires to cool things down inside. If you have unlimited cash, go out and buy the biggest air conditioner on the market and enjoy. If you bank account is a little too lean for such measures, then go outside and look at your roof. More specifically, look at what kind of material is up there on the roof.
Here's the unavoidable skinny: potentially half of the energy required to cool your home during the summer is related to the efficiency of your roof to absorb heat from the sun. The key to beating the long-term effects of climate change taking place right here, right now is reflectivity. And when it comes roofing, that means building materials made of things like concrete or clay tile, synthetic rubber membrane and even, believe it or not, metal. Yes, it's true: metal roofs can actually help keep your home cool and your power bill lower.
Anyone who lives anywhere that receives goodly amounts of sunshine during the summer and is considering re-roofing their house should immediately start considering introducing these materials to make their pitched roof more energy efficient. Introducing coatings ranging from low-slope tar to synthetic rubbers can be of tremendous value in the process of installing a basic white cool-roof coating. Why white? For the same reason that people who waiting in a parking lot inside a white car are cooler than those waiting inside a dark car. White is more reflective than darker colors.
So that means you have to bite the bullet and accept a white roof if you want to increase reflectivity and lower your bills, right? Not at all. You can still enjoy the benefits of increased reflectivity gained by going with a cool roof while showing off the particular aesthetics of green, blue, grey and even orange roofs. If the idea of having the only orange roof in the neighborhood and being able to brag about actually lowering your energy costs has appeal, then wait till you hear that in a great many cases the cost of installing a cool roof is about the same as installing traditional roofing materials.
But, hey, what if I don't live where the sun shines hard upon my old-fashioned roof? Do I really need to think of the long-term future of runaway sun rays pushing global warming closer and closer to the tipping point? Sure. If, for instance, you are planning on living under that roof until your golden years. Even if you think that you are going to want the house to maintain its heat once you make your way well into your senior citizenry, you still will want to think about cool roofing options when the time eventually comes for re-roofing. This is doubly true if that re-roofing occurs fairly early into your home ownership.
The hotter the temperatures your roof is exposed to, the more damage is done to the structure. A roof that with inadequate reflectivity translates into a roof that loses is strength quicker than a roof with adequate reflectivity. Okay, let's make this simple: if you have a roof using materials like bitumen, polyurethane foam, oven-baked or granular-coated metal tiles and reflective marble chips, you may be able to extend the life of your roof beyond what you would get from going with traditional materials.
One last bit of advice when it comes to roofing reflectivity. Making the decision to invest in cool roof technology can actually cut down on your air conditioning load by allowing you to close air ducts into rooms that don't need a constant supply of cool air. Not only can increasing the ability of your roof to reflect sunlight reduce the energy it takes for your cooling system to lower the interior temperature, it can potentially eliminate the need to condition every room in the house with cool air.