Though asphalt shingles are one of the cheapest and most popular roofing materials available, they’re also terrible for the environment. Asphalt shingles are largely composed of petroleum, and they emit dangerous fumes when they’re recycled. Fortunately there are plenty of eco-friendly options to accommodate a wide variety of roofs!
Harness the Power of the Sun
Solar panels are probably the first thing people think of when they imagine an environmentally friendly roof, but these days the newest technology is actually photovoltaic shingles, more commonly known as solar shingles. These are designed to function just like normal roofing materials, except they generate electricity thanks to built in solar panels.
While they are very expensive to install, they can drastically reduce energy costs in the long run, and will definitely create a more eco-friendly household.
Rely on the Wind
Wind turbines are an alternative to standard ridge vents and other ventilation systems that draw hot and humid air out of the attic. If you live in an especially windy area, a wind turbine will provide much better cooling than a traditional vent.
A turbine can also be used to harness wind energy! While it won’t translate to massively reduced energy costs, it can generate and store an impressive amount on windy days.
Cool Down with a “Cool” Roof
While most roofing material reflects a certain amount of sunlight to keep heat at bay, roofs that are specifically designed as “cool” roofs are built for this purpose first and foremost. These can be roofs that are covered in reflective paint, or — more recently — roofs that are made of incredibly reflective material such as white glue and gravel.
This is one of the fastest-growing trends in the industry today, so check to see if roofers near me are able to do it!
Invest in an Overhang
Did you know that having your roof extended in an overhang can significantly decrease your cooling costs? A large overhang will help shade your home from the worst direct sunlight, drastically reducing the temperature in the afternoon. For people who live in hot, arid climates, this can be an excellent alternative to just cranking up the air conditioner.
A deep overhang will typically be installed on one side of your house, and it can be difficult to make room for it if you have an established layout. This is why such an addition tends to be on the more expensive side, but if you’re planning a new home, it can be advantageous to ask the contractor to add one.
Try a Different Material
Asphalt may be the most common material, but there are plenty of others that have a much smaller impact on the environment. If possible, consider having your roof redone in cedar shake, clay or slate shingles, or even metal. All of these materials can be made from recycled components and can be recycled themselves, so they’re a great choice for a roof.
While wood shake is comparatively more expensive than other material types, you won’t pay too much more than you would for asphalt shingles, and you’ll end up with a roof that’s just as durable and aesthetically pleasing — if not more so!
Bring Your Roof to Life
If you’re ready to fully embrace the green lifestyle, you can’t get any greener than a roof that literally serves as a place for new things to grow. Green or living roofs feature a waterproof membrane atop which soil can be contained and vegetation can be planted. There are few limits to what can be planted on a green roof, and the result makes for a beautiful fixture that helps keep the home cool, purifies the air, and leeches moisture away from the roof itself.
Unfortunately, green roofs often require a lot of additional systems to ensure there’s no damage caused by the plants. These can include barriers that prevent roots from bursting through, or some kind of drainage system. The costs vary, but expect to pay far more up front if you want a fully living roof.
When it comes to making your roof environmentally friendly, there are more options available now than ever before. If you’re building a new home or having your roof redone, now is the time to take advantage. But even if you only make small changes, you can still drastically reduce your energy costs and your carbon footprint.