Energy Efficiency

Cool Roofs Can Offer Savings

By Derrill Holly | ECT Staff Writer Published: January 10th, 2013

Energy counselors at some electric cooperatives might want to consider advising consumer-members in warmer climates to take a top-down approach to energy efficiency, with cool-roof technology.

A wide variety of cool roof materials used in new construction and reroofing projects are tested at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. (Photo By: ORNL)

A wide variety of cool roof materials used in new construction and reroofing projects are tested at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. (Photo By: ORNL)

“There are now lots of colors and composite materials available that make cool roofs great choices in certain parts of the country,” said Brian Sloboda, a senior program manager for NRECA’s Cooperative Research Network.

Cool roofs are designed to reflect most of the sun’s rays. While some of the heat is absorbed by the building, materials on the roofing surface also permit the building to shed additional heat through a process called thermal emission.

CRN commissioned a study of cool roofs in 2012.

“One study by the Florida Solar Energy Center found that cool roof owners were able to reduce their annual cooling costs by about $200,” said Sloboda, citing information noted in the report. “In many cases, cool roofs can be added for about the same price as conventional roofing.”

“Cool roofs are most effective in parts of the country where cooling costs represent the bulk of home energy use for heating, ventilation and air conditioning,” Sloboda said.

While cool roofs have been around for some time, the technology was once primarily limited to commercial buildings, mainly with flat roofs, or manufactured housing.

New composite materials and manufacturing processes have produced coatings with color properties that make cool roof shingles an option for many pitched roofs.

“The surfaces are almost three-dimensional, so when you view them from ground level the color looks like conventional roofing,” said Sloboda. “But they are designed to reflect the majority of the sun’s rays that contribute to the heat buildup in attics or under the eaves.”

Cool roof asphalt shingles are available in grey, brown, black and other shades that meet homeowner association requirements and comply with deed covenants, he said. There are also synthetic tiles available that resemble terra cotta materials commonly used in parts of Florida or the Southwest.

“For steeper roofs, regular rainfall is enough to prevent debris accumulations,” Sloboda said. “Roofs with gentler slopes may require the same type of care conventional roofs get to remove prevent algae buildups.”

Registered users of cooperative.com may access the CRN report by clicking here.

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