First, let’s define energy-efficient as minimizing heating and cooling use to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home. Generally speaking, a light color roofing material will reflect the most solar heat and keep your house cooler while a dark color will absorb the sun and keep your home warmer.
How much difference does roof color make on temperature?
Depending on a number of listed factors, the same material in its most and least heat-effective color can be up to 20 degrees different. How much of that heat actually gets into your home depends on ventilation and insulation.
Consider if heating or cooling is a bigger concern for your property and lifestyle. Then take a holistic look at how your choice of roofing materials and roof color can work together with your schedule and environment to optimize your comfort while minimizing your energy use. You don’t have to have all the answers. We’re here to help.
Roof color is only the beginning of the conversation, however. The following items also have an impact on keeping your home comfortable:
- Topography: Nature will have a say in how your home heats up during the day. Being surrounded by trees or being in a narrow valley will put you in the shade, with a potentially chilling effect.
- Weather: If you have six inches of snow on your roof, color is clearly irrelevant since the sun can’t reach it. Clouds also have a huge impact on calculations.
- Direction: Obviously direct sunlight will warm your home, but how much of an effect varies throughout the day and the year. Roofs with a Northern exposure will get less sun, while the Southern-facing facets have the potential for significantly more. An Eastern exposure will collect cooler morning light while a Western exposure will have the warmer afternoon light.
- Engineering: Material formulations can have an impact on color. Many modern roofing materials, like asphalt shingles, will have special coatings to manage solar gain and may be registered as Energy Star.
- Density: Overall density of the materials has a significant effect on how much heat the roof can hold. For example, heavy natural slate stores temperature for a long time while lighter synthetic slate does not.
- Reflectivity: Even if they are the same color, glossy roofing materials are cooler than matte.
- The Bottom Line: Attic insulation and roof ventilation make much more difference to the interior temperature of a home than the roof color in the Greater Seattle area.
There is one other thing to consider, aside from how roofing color affects a home’s temperature and energy use. Some roofing materials are more temperature-sensitive than others. This means your color choice could have an impact on the longevity of the material itself.
Work up your list of questions and we can chat.
Overall, your climate will help you decide how much roof color matters for energy efficiency. In our Pacific Northwest, tree cover and the cloudy marine climate mitigates the effect of the sun during much of the year and allows for more variety and freedom of choice in roofing colors. Around here, you can pretty much pick whichever roof color you want, so long as your home is properly engineered.