Image via: Victory Painting & Roofing
My grandmother has lived in the same house for as long as I have known her. We use to rollerskate on her backpatio in the hot, Texas summer heat and watch the purple martens in her birdhouse each spring. This year something was different. As we drove up to her house my mom slyly says "look what's on grandmas roof. I'm not going to tell you; see for yourself." It was late and dark, and at first I didn't notice anything different. Until I took a closer look around the corner — the roof was no longer a black, heat-soaking, composition-shingle roof. This time it was shiny! I don't mean shiny like you have to look away when the sun hits it, but just a soft, silver-colored roof. My grandmother went metal on me.
"Yeah," she remarked, "it was just too hot and the old roof was flat and kept leaking. Granted it was a 30-year old roof, but still I was tired of dealing with it." Instead, my grandmother got someone to vault the flat ceilings on her garage and covered that roof, as well as the already vaulted ceiling of her house, with a metal roof.
Why would someone do this, you might ask? Well, my grandmother, like many people in the Texas hill-country, has huge oak trees all around her house. Which are great for shade, but don't lend to a nice roof for solar. What's an independent grandmother to do? Well, the next best thing. Find some other way to cool her house, save money on her electric bills as well as help the planet by not running her A/C quite so high. After recent hail damage that left her roof looking more like swiss cheese, she took her insurance payments and put them towards the metal roof. The new system was still $4-5,000 USD above what she made from the insurance payment, but despite the cost she still knew that's what she wanted to do.
"You can definitely tell a difference," my grandmother said when I asked her further. "The house is just much cooler and the electric bill has gone down by $30-40 USD per month on average." In an area where you almost run the air conditioning year-round, this makes a big difference. "The last several years we've been in a severe drought so we've had very warm weather and we have not had our typical winter either. The temp is warmer in the winter than it used to be so I was motivated partly by that; the fact that our weather is warmer and the climate seemed to be changing."
Now I hate to say it, but she is older and more than likely won't see this roof through its lifetime. So I asked her why she would bother to pay the extra $12,000 for the roof. She said, "I ma not see it paid back to me, but the house will still be there and it will be a good selling point when I do decide to sell it. So somebody else will benefit from the metal roof."
For those of you in hot, sunny climates but burdened by un-solar-friendly roofs, why not try installing a white or metal roof to help keep your house cool and reflect some of the heat off your property.
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