Learning About Cool Roofs

The idea that there are roofing systems available to homeowners that reduce their ecological footprint is exciting. Not only are these roofing systems, called cool roofs, supposedly designed to reduce the amount of energy homeowners use when cooling their homes, but they may also reduce the hot island effect. The idea is so promising that many major cities have mandated the installation of cool roofs; however, when the alleged benefits are actually investigated, it appears that these roofs may not be as beneficial as once thought. Because there is so much confusing research available on these roofing systems, experienced Ocean County roofing contractors may be able to determine whether a cool roof would benefit a homeowner.

A cool roof is any roof that is designed to reflect sunlight. While many cool roofs are white or lighter in color, only roofs that have been treated with reflective materials are considered cool roofs. This reflective material keeps the sunlight from being absorbed into the roof, which keeps the attic space cooler during the summer. Additionally, if there are enough cool roofs in a space, the roofs may reduce the ambient air temperature by several degrees.

In general, it would appear that these roofs could be extremely advantageous for both homeowners and for the environment; however, a 2011 study by Stanford University researchers found that the roofs may have contributed to climate change by increasing the overall temperature of the earth.

According to the study, the problem does not appear to the the white roofs themselves. It is believed that the sunlight is being absorbed by dark airborne particles after being reflected by the roofs. In order for white roofs to be effective, the outdoor air pollutants must be eliminated.

Further, it has been argued that cool roofs may actually increase energy consumption if the home is located in a northern climate. Cool roofs are effective in warmer climates because there are more cooling days than heating days, meaning the energy savings will outweigh energy use. It is the opposite in cooler climates; more heating days mean that the heater will be used more than the air conditioner.

It should be noted that other studies that were conducted at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Department of Energy and the National Center for Atmospheric Research in America had different results; their studies showed that cool roofs were advantages for the environment and for most homes. As such, homeowners may wish to contact their trusted contractor to determine if a cool roof is right for their home. Any of the roofing contractors from Fortified Roofing of Ocean County NJ can answer your questions about gutters or skylights.

Roofing term courtesy of the contractors from Fortified Roofing, Ocean County NJ:

Hot island effect

The hot island effect is a dome of hot air that surrounds urban or industrial areas. This effect is caused by large expanses of black asphalt roofing or roadways, which soak up the sunlight.

Question and answer from the Ocean County NJ roofing contractors of Fortified Roofing:

Do cool roofs lose their alleged energy saving benefits if the surface becomes dirty?

Several Studies have shown that, while some roofs can lose some of its reflectivity after becoming dirty or if they do not receive maintenance, approximately 90 percent of all roofs retained their reflectivity after a period of three years. Additionally, routine maintenance and cleaning will restore 100 percent of the roof’s initial reflectivity.

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