Roofing has an aesthetic quality, its colour, texture and shape either enhancing or detracting from your home's appearance. Practically, though, roofing can either increase or decrease your heating and cooling bills, depending on how it reacts to solar radiation. Here are several types of efficient roofs to consider.
If you live in a tropical climate, you might consider a cool roof—one that reflects solar radiation rather than absorbing and releasing heat. Vinyl efficiently reflects heat, but other materials, such as tiles and metal, often have reflective paint or coatings that do the job for them. A cool roof can reduce air conditioning costs and save you money. They also help mitigate the 'urban heat island effect' whereby many materials in a built-up urban environment absorb and emit heat. Collectively, this increases the overall ambient temperature in the area.
Colour plays its part also. Pale roofs reflect more heat than dark ones, though reflective coats can help dark roofs stay cool. In any case, some councils devise regulations about allowable roof hues in their region.
High Thermal Mass Roofs
If you live in an area with hot days and cold nights, you'll benefit from roofing materials with a high thermal mass, such as concrete or terracotta tiles. These substances absorb solar heat, becoming warm themselves in the process. You may notice how hot a concrete pavement, for instance, becomes under sunshine. Such thermal materials slowly release this stored-up heat hours later. They effectively work as natural heat banks, collecting and discharging heat.
High thermal mass roofs keep a home cooler in the day and warmer at night, moderating the overall fluctuations of a 24-hour cycle. Conversely, one common material that doesn't have a high thermal mass is metal. Roofs of this material don't absorb significant amounts of heat, but this makes them ideal for climates that experience both hot days and nights. A metal roof won't slowly release unwanted heat in the evening as you're trying to sleep.
A green roof is one with filled with greenery and plants that absorb the sun's heat as well as insulating your home. These roofs are constructed in layers that deal with insulation, waterproofing and drainage. A cover prevents the soil from blowing away. Plants can range from fernery to trees, in part, depending on the soil depth. Because they add to the roof weight, the building walls and roofs need to reach a required strength.
For more information about different roofing materials, talk with a professional near you.