Raise The Roof - And Lower Your Electric Bill
You've done your part to ease the global energy load. Your windows are double glazed. Your heat pump is energy efficient. Maybe you even have a little passive solar heating action at your house. Awesome. Good on ya. But what if, on top of all that, there was a way for you to cut out an additional 20% of the energy you use to keep your home comfortable? It's possible, and all you may have to do is spec out a different kind of shingle...Scientists in the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD) have been at work on Project Cool Colors since the 1980's. Their Goal: to develop a low cost, durable reflective pigment for shingles. Current reflective roofs--like steel cladding, and painted white roofs on big-box stores--have proven their effectiveness well. Energystar boasts that using a reflective roof can cut 10-15 percent of a building's air conditioning costs.
But for the average homeowner, these types of roofs are costly to install, and downright ugly (oh come on, why don't you paint your roof with reflective aluminum white and see what it looks like). So the Cool Colors team wants to make a standard asphalt-style or ceramic tile shingle which will install like regular ones. Also, because most of the sun's radiant energy is in the form of infra-red radiation, added pigments to reflect it don't change the color of the shingles much. In fact, once this technology gains widespread use, you should be able to have whatever color roof you want, and still get great results.
As readers have pointed out, obviously these tiles and shingles will only help keep a building cool -- if you're living in high northern latitudes, they may not help that much. But, in the more southern latitudes, and especially in places like the southwestern US, where fighting nature's love of heat means huge electricity consumption for AC, these could make a real difference.
The team's most recent findings are exciting, and though "manufacturing partners" are being worked with, little mention was made of where these products are available for purchase. Just the same, if you're planning a roofing job, keep an eye out for this option. It could save you a bundle.
:: Cool Colors Project [by DM]