According to ENERGY STAR®, Americans spend about $40 billion annually to air condition buildings – 17 percent of all electricity generated in this country. In warm areas with hot summers the cost to keep a building or a home at a controlled and comfortable temperature can be distressing. In order to not pay so much for electricity some might even consider settling for a less than ideal indoor temperature, but there is an alternative.
Reflective roof coating, typically colored white, can be used to lighten the electric bill by keeping the building at cooler temperatures. Reflective roof coating is most effective when used on flat roofs but can also benefit buildings with slanted roofs, and for visual purposes the coating can be a variation of white, yet the lighter the color the more energy from the sun will be reflected. Reflecting the sun’s radiant energy off of a roof and into space has many benefits, some which have already been mentioned.
- Increases efficiency in some air conditioning and ventilation units on the roof.
- Slows roof decay (UV radiation speeds up the decay).
- Reduces Urban Heat Island effect, and thereby improves the air quality and health of those living in the Urban Heat Island (concentration of structures and heat in a metropolitan area causes the area to be significantly hotter than its surrounding areas).
- Reduces carbon emissions.
- Reduces the cost of energy to air condition by 20% or more.
Using reflective roof coating, or a “cool roof”, does not only benefit the owner of the building or home but it also benefits everyone else. Steven Chu, the US Secretary of Energy and a Nobel prize-winning scientist, said that making roofs white or light-colored would help to reduce global warming by both conserving energy and reflecting sunlight back into space (the video below is from the US Department of Energy and explains how “cool roofs” can save you money and benefit the environment). California has already required all its flat-roofed commercial buildings to have white roofs and Georgia and Florida are encouraging its commercial building owners to do the same. With all the benefits that a white roof brings it’s not a wonder Wal-Mart buildings in the US that have been built after 1999 have a white roof. Many are going white, including Steven Chu, will you?