The first line of defense that your home has against the sun and heat buildup is the roof. Your home's roof should repel the sun's rays instead of absorbing and transferring the heat indoors. Before you turn up the air conditioner, consider investing in one of the top five heat-efficient roofing materials.
Slate became a common roofing material in Europe centuries ago. It is durable enough to hold up to the demands of the environment, and it has a long lifespan. The soft, natural tones of the slate repel heat instead of absorbing it.
A white slate tile product will have the most reflective properties, repelling the most heat away from your roof. You can even find reclaimed and salvage slate tiles in some areas.
Clay or Terra Cotta Tile
Clay and terracotta are popular for their heat repellent properties. Most clay roofing tiles are light-colored, which protects them from absorbing excess heat. Terracotta roofing tiles are available in many colors, including rust and sienna shades.
The tiles are baked in a kiln to harden them. This process also reduces the porous nature, so that it no longer absorbs and holds heat. In most cases, the tiles are shaped into either "S" forms or half-circles so that you can place them in arch designs on your roof.
The space left under the tile will permit air circulation and runoff. This keeps your home cooler, because air circulating around the tile keeps heat from building up under it.
Membrane roofing can be either thermoplastic or synthetic rubber. It is often single-ply, white material that ships in both sheets and rolls. The material is weather-resistant, and can provide years of protection against heat and temperature transfer.
The white surface blocks heat absorption, preventing it from building up on the roof. You can even have a reflective coating applied to the membrane to increase its ability to repel heat. The seamless application makes a great barrier against water as well.
Flat, White Tile
Concrete and ceramic roofing tiles made in white, flat shapes prevent heat absorption. The white surface of the tile is reflective, so it bounces heat away from the roof. In fact, flat, white tiles can reflect over three-quarters of the sun's rays.
Metal roofing is not quite as reflective as tiles, but with a reflective coating, it can be efficient. Metal does not hold as much heat as porous tiles can, so it cools faster in the evenings as well.
This type of roofing is durable, and can withstand a variety of weather environments. If you live in an area where the weather varies from high heat in the summer to freezing temperatures in the winter, metal roofing can make that transition.
Most metal roofing material is either aluminum or steel. You can find copper roofing in some higher-end applications, as well. No matter what type of metal roofing you choose, you will need to treat it to prevent corrosion.
Make sure that you consider the installation angle, though. Metal roofing's reflective properties can create glare hazards for your neighbors. Install it at a slope that will not direct the light reflection back to other homes in the neighborhood.
The white color of each of these roofing options is a key component of its reflective abilities. In fact, Dr. Stephen Chu claims that consumers could reduce their air conditioning use by as much as 15 percent with white roofing. If you are not in the market to replace your roofing, consider applying a coat of white paint to take advantage of the reflective benefit.