Are lighter shingles more energy efficient?

Most homeowners choose their house’s shingle color based solely on appearance: What color compliments your paint color, what styles are approved by your homeowner’s association, and so on. But your roof’s shingle color contributes to more than just your home’s look. Something as simple as shingle color can make a difference in your home’s energy efficiency.
So what options do you have for energy efficient shingles? In general, lighter shingle colors tend to be more energy efficient, because they do not absorb as much heat. Think about it in terms of clothing. When you’re wearing a black shirt on a hot, sunny day, it probably feels like the temperature outside is a good 10 or more degrees hotter than if you’re wearing a white or light-colored shirt. This is because darker colors, like black, absorb light from the sun and convert the light energy into heat, whereas lighter colors, like white, reflect light and therefore do not convert that light into heat.

What does light and heat absorption have to do with energy efficiency? In the summer, when darker shingle colors absorb heat from the sun, that heat often transfers into your attic and the rooms below, warming your house and forcing your air conditioner to work overtime.

However, for the same reasons, darker shingles can actually help your home be more energy efficient in the winter by reducing the strain on your heating system. The important thing to remember is that, in order for darker shingles to heat your home, they need to absorb light from the sun, which renders them inefficient (so to speak) on overcast or cloudy winter days. And if there’s snow on your roof, your roof is effectively white, so it’s reflecting light instead of absorbing it, regardless of what color your roof is underneath.

In short, you’ll have to consider your preference and local climate when determining if lighter shingles are the more energy efficient choice for your home. In the Midwest, the home of John Beal Roofing, where yearly temperatures are pretty evenly split between hot and cold, it’s likely that lighter shingles are the more energy efficient choice.

Reconsidering your shingle color doesn’t necessarily mean you have to replace your shingles, either. If you’re due for a reroofing, it’s wise to take energy efficiency into consideration when choosing new shingles. But if you don’t currently need a new roof, there are still options you can consider, such as a roof coating. These so-called “cool roof coatings” are similar to a thick paint and contain white or otherwise reflective pigments. In addition to protecting your roof from UV light (and thus, extra heat), these coatings can also help with water protection, and they’re typically available for most roof types, not just shingles.

Though a compelling case has been made for lighter shingles and roof coatings, there are still a lot of other variables to consider when it comes to the energy efficiency of your home. If energy efficiency is one of your roofing concerns, your best bet is to contact a licensed roofing contractor like John Beal Roofing. A local contractor will be able to assess other features of your home and help you determine what roofing solution is the best for your home and your needs. Contact John Beal Roofing today to set up a free assessment.