Choose a Light Colored Roof to Save Energy

Q: As an apartment-dweller in SoCal (or anywhere):
I’m curious as to how a tenant could effectively persuade/encourage her landlord to upgrade the property to be energy efficient — using a company such as yours?

A: Needs are definitely different in Southern California than they are in Wisconsin. For instance, you often see times of extreme heat making any asphalt shingled roof short-lived by you. While we might see one out of 5000 houses with a red clay tile roof here in the Milwaukee area, they are probably common place by you because they hold up to the elements by you.

On the other hand, many apartments have flat roofs where tar is spread on to create a seal and then pea gravel is swept on to protect the underlying surface. The gravel also increases the reflective properties of your roof. This white stone helps to reduce the “heat island” effects of many cities, but it also should help to reduce your energy bills.

Alternatively, some places that have flat roofs use a rubber membrane. While black and gray are common place, there are some places that are manufacturing an energy saving white rubber membrane. I’ve worked on a few houses that have used these and they seem to perform very well. Remember, the lighter the color, the less heat will be absorbed into the product.

As for persuading them — if they’re paying for cooling then it is in their best interest to look at efficiency. If not, then you will have a challenge convincing them.
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Note: This was a follow up to the following facebook posting from us:
Avoid putting on a black roof. Not only will your cooling bills be higher in the summer, but if it’s not perfectly ventilated (and few roofs are) you are more apt to get ice damming in the winter. To make matters worse, they rarely last as long. This is one instance where black does not go with everything.
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Jim McGuigan is a self avowed Energy Efficiency geek living in Brown Deer, WI. His company, Energy Masters, installs roofing, soffit and attic insulation — all products where ventilation and efficiency are key to a healthy home.

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