Blog / What Roofing Materials are Most Energy Efficient?
Roofing installation, maintenance and repairs can be some of the most costly and important concerns for any homeowner, and for property owners of any kind. On today’s market, there are numerous different material options available for roofs of all sizes and styles. As a property owner, you may have specific wants, needs and concerns that will influence the roofing material you choose for your home. One of the most common and impactful considerations for your roof is energy efficiency. An energy efficient roof is not only a smart choice for environmental and sustainability reasons, it can also save you money in energy costs in the long run.
How to Choose the Right Roofing Material
There are many factors to consider when selecting a roofing material for your home or property. Each property owner will have their own priorities when it comes to choosing the material for their roof. Some of the most common considerations that may impact the roof selection process include, but are not limited to, the type of property, location and climate of the property, the owner’s budget, maintenance needs and costs, sustainability concerns and energy efficiency. How highly valued each of these concerns is weighted will vary from property owner to property owner.
Type of property. The type of property that you are roofing may impact the type of roofing material that best suits it. It’s natural that you will want your property to have a visually pleasing roof that matches the overall style of the building. The aesthetic of your home’s roof can be a really important factor, especially in terms of ROI and resale value. For example, if you live in a location where Cape Cod-style homes are highly sought after, installing a Cedar shake roof may be a great boon to your home’s resale potential. Having a shabby or out-of-style roof can genuinely impact the overall value of your property — real estate studies indicate that homes with good curb appeal sell anywhere from 7% to 14% higher than homes without it.
Location and climate. The geographical location of the property in question, as well as the climate in which it is located, may have significant influence over the selection of a roofing material. There are some roofing materials that are naturally more insulating than others, making them ideal for properties in colder climates. Some types of roofing are prone to moisture damage and/or wind damage, making them less desirable in areas with more tropical weather or stormy climates. An experienced contractor will be able to give you additional insight into how the location of your property may impact the types of roofing materials from which you should realistically choose.
Budget. For most homeowners and/or property owners, the financial burden of any home improvement project will be one of the most determinant factors on the project as a whole. Selecting a roofing material is no exception to this. When establishing a budget for your property’s roof, you should consider not only the initial cost of the purchase price and installation, but also estimated maintenance costs and considerations such as potential repairs, longevity and energy efficiency (all of which can impact the overall cost of a roof over time).
Maintenance. Some types of roofing materials are more prone to ongoing maintenance care and repairs than others. The level of maintenance that your roof will require will likely vary depending on factors such as quality of the raw materials and quality of the roof’s initial installation, the climate and location of your property and its exposure to extreme weather and/or natural disasters.
Sustainability concerns. Some property owners may have additional concerns about the environmental impact and sustainability qualities of different types of roofing materials. The extent to which sustainability affects a property owner’s selection of a roof will vary depending on the individual priorities of each property owner. Roofing materials’ carbon footprint and overall sustainability rating can often correlate to longevity of the roof and its maintenance costs as well. Consulting an experienced contractor who is expert in eco-friendly roofing solutions is the best way to learn about the sustainability impacts of each different type of roofing material available.
Energy efficiency. Of course, energy efficiency is another prominent facet of environmental sustainability. Because roofs are responsible for protecting the home from weather and other outside aggressors, as well as insulating the home and controlling its climate, they are one of the most important elements of any home design. By selecting, installing and maintaining an energy efficient roof, you, the property owner, can both reduce your carbon footprint as well as save money on energy costs.
The Energy Efficiency of Popular Roofing Materials
Each type of roofing material comes with different advantages and disadvantages. Choosing which type of roof is right for you and your project will depend on how you weigh the contributing factors — in this case, the most important contributing factor being energy efficiency. Today, there are several different types of roofing materials from which a property owner can choose. Each material type possesses its own unique qualities and appearance, and each offers different levels of energy efficiency. The most popular roofing materials today include metal, tile, asphalt, rubber, cedar shake and slate, among others.
Metal. Metal roofs are highly desirable in some climates thanks to their durability — many homeowners who live in snowy areas prefer metal roofs because of their strength and longevity. In wildfire-prone areas, metal is also a frequently used roofing material, because it is entirely fireproof. Though they tend to be one of the more expensive roof styles to install, metal roofs are often a great investment, due to their longevity, durability and sleek style. In addition, metal is one of the most energy efficient roofing materials. Metal roofs typically require minimal maintenance and can last up to fifty years without replacement. As such, metal is a popular roofing material for homeowners concerned about energy efficiency as well as overall ROI.
Tile. Using tile as a roofing material is a highly desirable option for any property owner who is interested in energy efficiency and durability in their roof. Tiles possess natural insulation properties. Because of their shape and installation, tiles can often circulate air around and away from the property, meaning a tile roof can both conserve heat in the cold weather and expel heat during warm weather. Tile is also fire-resistant and can withstand inclement — and in some cases, even extreme — weather. Tile roofs can offer energy efficiency, durability, style and protection to nearly any type of property.
Asphalt shingles. Because asphalt shingles can be purchased in a variety of different colors, shapes and textures, the energy efficiency of this roofing material is likewise variable. Typically, dark-colored asphalt shingles are not considered energy efficient, as they absorb heat rather than reflect it away from the property. However, because asphalt shingles tend to be more budget-friendly, they are a more financially accessible option for many homeowners. In order to make an asphalt roof as energy efficient as possible, light-colored shingles and proper, expert installation are both paramount. Many experts also recommend installing a waterproof shield underneath the asphalt roof, along with proper attic insulation and ventilation.
Rubber. Rubber, as a roofing material, is a relatively new addition to the market. Rubber roofing material is usually made from about 95% recycled material, which makes it an attractive option for property owners who wish to make eco-friendly choices for their homes and/or other properties. Many property owners also prize rubber roofing material for its versatility (it can be made in a variety of different shingle styles and colors) as well as for its natural insulation properties. Overall, a rubber roof can be energy efficient, especially when produced in a light color and when paired with a properly vented attic.
Cedar. One of the most beautiful and distinct of all roofing materials, cedar (sometimes called cedar shake) is a popular option for property owners who can handle the expense of up-front costs, as well as the potential for ongoing maintenance and repairs. Cedar’s natural insulation properties can make it a highly energy efficient roofing style — in some reports, a cedar roof can provide more than twice the insulation as an asphalt roof. Cedar is also natural and recyclable, which may be attractive to especially eco-conscious property owners.
Slate. Slate is typically considered one of the most elegant types of roofing materials. Historically, it has also been one of the most expensive. Slate can be heavy, meaning it is not necessarily the best option for every property, given its weight and installation specifics. Though expensive up front, slate roofs often have a high ROI, as they’ve been known to last for hundreds of years. A natural roofing option, slate shingle roofs are similar to cedar in that they also possess indelible insulation qualities and can reduce a property’s energy costs by as much as 10 percent, according to some reports.
Popular Roofing Material FAQs
Q: What are the benefits of an energy efficient roof?
A: An energy efficient roof can have numerous benefits for many different types of properties. Some of the most popular and impactful advantages of an energy efficient roof include, but are not limited to, lower utility bills, lower maintenance costs, increased home equity and resale value and others. In some cases, an energy efficient roof can also make you eligible for a federal tax credit and other incentives that may be able to save you considerable amounts of money over time.
Q: Are energy efficient roofs expensive?
A: The cost of an energy efficient roof can vary greatly, depending on the roofing material used, the size of the roof, the roof design, installation costs and maintenance costs. Typically, asphalt roofs and rubber roofs are the most inexpensive roofing styles in terms of upfront costs. However, these roofing materials often have shorter lifespans and require more repairs and maintenance than other types of roofs. Metal, cedar, and slate roofs typically carry more expensive purchase prices and installation costs — however, these roofing materials tend to me more energy efficient, more durable, longer lasting and may have a higher ROI for your property in the long run.
Q: What type of roof is right for my property?
A: To answer this question, you should first decide what your greatest priorities are for your roof. Some owners are most concerned with sustainability, energy efficiency and durability. Other property owners are more interested in maintenance considerations, budget, style and overall appearance of the roof. If you feel overwhelmed by the number of options available, reach out to an experienced contractor for advice and guidance.
Q: How can I make my existing roof more energy efficient?
A: There are some changes you can make to a pre-existing roof in order to increase its energy efficiency. If you have a dark-colored roof, you may want to consider painting or treating it in order to lighten the color. Generally, the lighter a roof’s color, the less it will be prone to absorbing heat. In addition, renovating a property’s attic design and insulation so that it is properly vented, can contribute greatly to the overall energy efficiency of the property.
Q: How much money can I save with an energy efficient roof?
A: This is a difficult question to answer, as there are so many different variables involved. However, property owners with energy efficient roofs can expect to have lower utility costs and maintenance costs for their property than they would otherwise. An experienced roofing contractor will be able to give you more precise insight into how much money you can save with your specific property.
Q: Do energy efficient roofs require additional maintenance?
A: The level of maintenance that a roof will require depends on different factors, most notably, the type of material used, the quality of initial installation, the climate in which the property is located and several others. Typically, metal roofs and slate roofs require little to no maintenance — these two roofing materials also tend to be the longest-lasting and the most expensive to install. As always, a professional roofer and/or contractor will be able to give you more specific information.
Q: How can I improve the longevity of my property’s roof?
A: Regular maintenance and quick, professional repairs are two of the best ways to increase the longevity of your roof, regardless of material type and/or style.
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