If you’re looking to install a new roof on your house, consider the benefits of a cool roof.
For the past decade, new and replacement roofs have been required to comply with updated environmentally-friendly standards (per Title 24 legislation). Fortunately, the roofing industry has kept in step with these changes and developed roofing materials that both comply with the law and surpass their predecessors in terms of aesthetics and functionality. A roof that’s constructed with these types of materials is called a “cool roof.”
“Cool roofs are now required in just about every city and county we work in,” says Cintra Davis, treasurer/secretary of Davis Roofing Group in Galt. “Anything we install has to be cool roof compliant with either cool roof shingles or a radiant barrier OSB.”
Cool roofs are characterized by a high level of performance in two aspects: solar reflectance and thermal emittance. Both the lightness of color and specific composition of the roofing materials account for their ability to simultaneously reflect light and deflect heat. In comparison with a traditional roof, which features dark shingles that absorb and retain heat rather than reflect and release it, a cool roof will typically remain 50 to 60 degrees cooler during hot weather.
This reduction of roof temperatures presents numerous benefits for both homeowners and the environment. For homeowners, it means a significant decrease in energy costs (due to less air conditioning usage) and maintenance costs, as cool roofing practices both increase a roof’s life expectancy and make for easier replacement. For the environment, it means less energy usage and a relief of the “urban heat island effect,” which is an incremental increase in air temperature caused by the collective heat retention of a community’s roofs.
Even though Title 24 requires all new and replacement roofs to comply with updated standards, some homeowners still don’t want to use these newer roofing materials because of aesthetic preferences. Fortunately, the legislation allows for alternative ways of meeting the regulation. In essence, the goal of Title 24 is to ensure homes achieve a Solar Reflective Index (SRI) rating of less than 16. Since the law is primarily looking for a number, as long as your home achieves the desired SRI, it doesn’t matter how you do it. To achieve a compliant SRI rating as economically as possible without converting to a cool roof, try improving your attic ventilation.
“One of the easiest ways to improve attic insulation is to install vents on the roof, but if you don’t like the way those look, you should consider a ‘vent-a-ridge,’ which goes along the entire ridge line of the home,” says Mrs. Davis. “Ridge cap shingles can be installed right on top, so hot air can escape from the attic but can’t enter.”
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