Understanding a Cool Roof and Insulation For Energy Efficiency

Can you benefit from a Cool Roof? Or are you better off investing in more insulation? No doubt, a cool roof can help many building owners save money while protecting the environment but not everyone should rush to get one.Your money might be better spent on attic insulation depending on where you live as well as your specific attic situation.

The U.S. Department of Energy has published an excellent guidebook on cool roofs (link below). The guidebook was created to help builders and home owners understand how cool roofs work. The guidebook also discusses the different types of cool roof options, and how to determine if cool roofing is appropriate for your home or commercial building. If you are planning to build, replace or restore an existing roof, take a look at the DOE Cool Roof Guide to better understand your energy efficiency options and costs associated with a cool roof. Also, keep in mind that cool roof products are now available for virtually every kind of roof.

Here is a quote from the guidebook on Cool Roofs,

Reducing the building peak cooling load with a cool roof can allow the installation of a smaller, less expensive air conditioner. This is referred to as a “cooling equipment” saving. Smaller air conditioners are also typically less expensive to run, because air conditioners are more efficient near full load than at part load.

Choosing a cool roof instead of a standard roof can slightly increase the need for heating energy in winter. However, winter penalties are often much smaller than summer savings even in cold climates because the northern mainland U.S. (latitude ≥ 40°N) receives about 3 to 5 times as much daily sunlight in summer as in winter.

The following list of resources for cool roof information was obtained from the U.S. Department of Energy,  Guidelines for Selecting Cool Roofs (July 2010, V. 1.2) – “Cool Roof Guide”


One of our previous articles pertaining to cool roofs: Will You Reduce Your Energy Costs by Painting Your Roof White?

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Industry Associations

Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association
750 National Press Building
529 14th Street, NW Washington, DC 20045 Phone: (202) 207-0919

Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing
816 Connecticut Ave., NW, 5th Floor
Washington, DC 20006
Phone: (866) 928-2347

Cool Metal Roofing Coalition
680 Andersen Drive Pittsburgh, PA 15220 Phone: (412) 922-2772

Metal Building Manufacturers Association
1300 Sumner Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44115-2851
Phone: (216) 241-7333

Metal Construction Association
4700 W. Lake Avenue Glenview, IL 60025
Phone: (847) 375-4718

Metal Roofing Alliance E. 4142 Hwy 302 Belfair, WA 98528 Phone: (360) 275-6164
National Roofing Contractors Association
10255 W. Higgins Road, Suite 600 Rosemont, IL 60018-5607 Phone: (847) 299-9070

Reflective Roof Coating Institute
400 Admiral Boulevard
Kansas City, MO 64106
Phone: (816) 221-1297

Roof Coating Manufacturers Association
750 National Press Building
529 14th Street, NW Washington, DC 20045 Phone: (202) 207-0919

Roof Consultants Institute
1500 Sunday Drive, Suite 204 Raleigh, North Carolina 27607 Phone: (800) 828-1902 or (919) 859-0742

Single Ply Roofing Industry
411 Waverley Oaks Road, Suite 331B
Waltham, MA 02452 Phone: (781) 647-7026

Tile Roofing Institute
230 East Ohio St., Suite 400 Chicago, IL 60611 Phone: (312) 670-4177

Material & Product Ratings

Cool Roofing Materials Database
Lawrence Berkeley National Labs

Cool Roof Rating Council
1610 Harrison Street Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: (866) 465-2523 or (510) 485-7175

ENERGY STAR Reflective Roof Products
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC 20460
Phone: (888) 782-7937

Cool Roof Research Groups

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Heat Island Group

Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Building Envelopes Program

Other Resources

Consumer Energy Center
California Energy Commission

Flex Your Power
Cool Roofs Product Guide

Oil Obit | Energy News
Ending our dependency on foreign oil

U.S. Department of Energy
Federal Energy Management Program