There are all kinds of things you can do to boost the energy efficiency of your HVAC system -- get a system tune-up, seal your ducts, replace your insulation -- but not all homeowners know that there’s another savings opportunity hanging right above their heads.

Cool roofs are designed to reflect sunlight and repel heat, and the most effective cool roof coatings can make a major difference in your energy bills during the hottest months. Just about any roof can be converted into a cool roof with the use of reflective paint, tiles, shingles or sheeting. And according to the U.S. Department of Energy, cool roofs can stay up to 50 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than standard roofs in hot weather.

Everybody Be Cool

There are cool roofing solutions for just about every type of roof. Many roofs can be converted with the use of reflective coatings that can be either sprayed-on or applied with rollers and brushes like paint. There are different types of reflective coatings to accommodate various roofing materials, and the seals they create can also help guard against leaks.

Coatings don’t work too well on existing shingle roofs. But if you have a shingle roof that is due for replacement, you can choose replacement shingles that are pre-treated with a cool coating at the factory. The same principle applies for roofs with tiles made of slate, concrete or clay.

Homeowners who upgrade to cool roofs often do it because it helps keep rooms cool and reduce a home’s reliance on air conditioning. But there’s another big home budget advantage -- cooler roofs can last longer, too. Extreme temperatures cause roofing materials to become brittle, and cooler roofs can help you tack a few years onto its life expectancy.

They’re environmentally friendly, as well. With a cool roof on your home, you’ll contribute less to those times of peak energy consumption -- often the hottest hours of the hottest days. During a heat wave, excessive air conditioning use drives up greenhouse gas emissions and increases the likelihood of a blackout.

Planning for a New Roof

If you’re considering an upgrade to a cool roof, it’s best to contact a construction professional who can explain the options and costs. But the U.S. Department of Energy has also created a tool to help homeowners get started on their own. Try out the DOE Cool Roof Calculator for an estimate on how much you could save each year by switching to cool roofing materials.

Regardless of whether a cool roof is right for your home, you can always count on your local HVAC technicians to help you find other effective ways to reduce your energy costs and improve your home comfort.

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