Other than just sounding hip, what exactly are cool roofs? Better yet, should you invest in one for your home? Cool roofs can vary by how they are made, and have a variety of advantages. Let’s look at the basics.

What are cool roofs? Cool roofs are ones that are specifically designed to take in less solar heat than most roofs do. They do this by reflecting sunlight rather than absorbing it, and it consequently helps maximize your home’s ability to stay cool. They are made out of certain kinds of reflective tiles or shingles, out of reflective roof paints, or out of a sheet covering. Cool roofs are beneficial to any building in many climates.

They are perhaps most impressive when compared with standard, dark-colored roofs. These roofs can get up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit from the sun during summer months! A cool roof reduces this by at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit, therefore saving your home the added energy cost of staying cool, and of course saving you money in the end.

Why should you get a cool roof? The advantages of a cool roof are plentiful. Other than reducing the air conditioning costs of your home, (and the resulting energy bills), they also make spaces that are normally not air conditioned more comfortable, such as a covered patio or a garage. The fact that the roof’s surface is kept cooler means that it will also last longer, making it a worthy investment in terms of time and money.

If many buildings in an area have cool roofs, it can actually reduce the local temperature of the air. It is called an urban heat island effect, and it is what happens in a downtown or urban area during the summer -- it is almost always a few degrees warmer than the outskirts. The electricity demand of the community would also be reduced, meaning fewer power outages. There will also be fewer emissions, meaning the building’s carbon footprint will be reduced (which is beneficial to everyone).

The beauty of cool roofs is that, if you are building a home and therefore need a roof anyway, the cost doesn’t have to be any more than a standard roof that isn’t cool. This makes it an ideal solution for those building a home. If you already have a roof, and it is in good condition and quality, then the price goes up, of course.  However, over time, it will save you money, and there are calculators online that can help you determine how much you would actually save.

If you live in a warm or hot climate, a cool roof makes even more sense than if you are in a cooler one. This is because the benefit of a cool roof -- keeping the home cool -- is far more important in hot climates, and your savings will, therefore, be that much greater. If you live in a climate where winter is the most expensive season, you probably shouldn’t get a cool roof because the heat absorption of your roof is a valuable asset.