Is It Getting Hot In Here? How Your Roof Affects House Temperatures

Your roof choices have implications on appearance, cost, and the environment. But it doesn’t stop there. One additional factor that many people forget is temperature. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a roof designed specifically for cooling can reduce the roof’s surface temperature by as much as 100°F. This cooling effect can decrease your annual energy expenses for air conditioning by 15%. Your roof doesn’t just keep the rain out and make your house more beautiful; it also plays a significant role in regulating your home’s temperature. Here are some of the ways roofing choices affect your home’s temperature:

Color

Just as the white stripes on the pavement stay cooler than the black asphalt, different colored roofs will have varying effects on your home’s temperature. Lighter roofing materials help your home stay cooler because they don’t hold onto the heat energy from the sun. It may seem like the surface temperature of your roof wouldn’t have a meaningful impact on your home’s temperature, but the difference is significant. The Department of Energy reports that white roofs reflect 60-90% of sunlight, keeping that heat out of your home.

A dark roof will absorb and retain heat, increasing the building’s temperature. In a cold climate, that heat retention may be a benefit. Darker materials’ heat retention can also melt snow. In warm weather, the lighter roof and resulting cooler temperatures will be more beneficial.

The ideal color choice may not seem straightforward if you live in an area with hot summers and cold winters. Do you take advantage of a dark roof’s warmth in the winter or use a light roof to stay cool in summer? Trusted roofing contractors understand local weather conditions and can tell you whether you will benefit more from the cooling effects of a light roof or the heat retention of a darker roof.

Ventilation

Many people think of the roof as just the lid that sits on their home and keeps the rain out. However, a properly installed roof will have a system of vents critical to your home’s comfort. Your home needs to breathe, and the roof ventilation allows it to do that. The hottest air rises to the top of your home and leaves through the ventilation system. This creates a slight vacuum, which pulls cooler air in.

Because the warm escaping air is likely more humid than the cooler air that stays in the structure, this air exchange also helps prevent mold and mildew. Trading hot, wet air for cooler, drier air keeps your home more comfortable. Thanks to your roof’s ventilation system, your air conditioning and dehumidifiers don’t have to work as hard.

Materials

The type of roof you have also affects how it changes your home’s temperature. Different roofing materials interact differently with sunlight. Because asphalt shingles reflect only about thirty percent of the light that hits them, they retain more heat. If you live in an area with mild summers and cold winters, they may be a wise choice to help keep heating bills down. Asphalt shingles come in a wide variety of colors, so there is something for every climate and every look. That means they can also be appropriate for hotter climates, especially because some products have light-colored, reflective granules that offer an additional reflection boost.

Hot locations with relatively warm winters might be ideal for metal roofs, which reflect sunlight instead of absorbing it as heat. Wood roofs are naturally cool-colored, which helps them regulate heat. Every option, from slate to concrete and everything in between, will affect your home’s temperature. With so many roof materials available, rely on the expertise of a local roof service company to help you understand which materials are best for your home.

Technology

When selecting your roof, you may have a preferred look or performance factor in mind, which can lead you to a specific material. If that choice isn’t temperature-friendly, there’s a solution. Cool roof technology can help you get the look and durability you want while still helping you regulate temperature. A cool roof is a roof designed with temperature control in mind. It reflects more sunlight and therefore absorbs less heat than typical products. Some roof materials have specific “cool roof” options. Others can be made “cool” by adding reflective paint or coatings.

When selecting roofing materials, thinking only of curb appeal, durability, and warranties can be tempting. Those are important factors to consider as you want your roof to contribute to the beauty of your home and to reliably protect your structure. But remember to keep in mind the effect your roof can have on your home’s temperature and heating and cooling costs. A beautiful home that is uncomfortably hot doesn’t sound very appealing. And quality roofing that lasts 30 years and can withstand hurricane-force winds but costs you a small fortune to cool surely isn’t what you want, either. When deciding on roofing, don’t forget to consider how your roof will affect your house’s temperature.

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