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Ask the Experts!

4 March 2009

ask-the-expertsI have heard that using a white colored or otherwise “cool roof” can have dramatic energy savings benefits.  I understand this is true for the hot and sunny south, but I am wondering if this reasoning holds true for the cold Northland.

Cool roofs do make sense for regions with higher cooling loads, but may not be as cost effective here in Minnesota where heating is the main concern.  Here are some resources that I found: Minnesota Energy Resources and
Before you invested in a cool roof, I would recommend making your home as energy efficient as possible, including adding insulation (particularly in the attic), sealing attic bypasses and upgrading any appliances (furnace, water heater).  These will pay back more quickly and make it more affordable should you consider a cool roof in the future.

Answer provided by Neely Crane-Smith, Community Energy Coordinator at the Center for Energy and Environment.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sue permalink
    8 March 2009 7:54 pm

    A number of years ago my my husband and I took a trip to Mexico with our youth group. We were concerned about the heat in our van, because we didn’t have air conditioning. We painted the roof of our van white and it really helped. I’ve wondered the same thing about roofing material and the question in regards to heating our homes in the winter. Maybe there is an invention in the offing. How about a double shingled roof. A mechanism to flip from winter to summer shingles? I’ve also wondered if it could be possible to create a reflective benefit from large numbers (obviously huge numbers) of houses having white roofs.

  2. ritublog permalink
    18 August 2009 8:11 am

    Everybody is aware with the fact that darker materials absorb more heat from sun than white/light colors, but an interesting data I want to share that black surface in the sun can be 40°C (70°F) hotter than the reflective white surface. This phenomenon occurs in the case of roofs also and heated roof then transfer their heat to surrounded air and contribute to heat island effect, while reflective metallic/ ceramic roof can reflect 65-75 %solar light. According to California energy commissioner “White roofs can cut a building’s energy use by 20% and save consumers money,” and “The potential energy savings in the U.S. is in excess of $1 billion annually.”

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