White Roofs

Kevin Pohlmann

Political Science 233

September 11, 2009

White Roofs

As we try to find more energy efficient ways to save money more and more ideas are coming up.  One of those ideas is white roofs instead of brown, black, or darker colored roofs.  White roofs are simply lighter colored roof tops.  As many people already know, lighter colors absorb less heat than darker colors.  In the summer time many people like to be cool while indoors but these days that can be difficult.  Two main reasons are that their air conditioning is not good enough or it is good enough but it drives up their energy bill so they chose not to turn it on to the full extent or on at all.  The white roofs absorb less heat which then cool down the house.  According to the New York Times, households with white roofs reduce the cost of air conditioning by 20 percent.  White roofs do cost about 15 percent more to install compared to darker roofs but in the long run people would save that 15 percent and more on energy costs.  An experiment by the National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee done at Fort Irwin Army Base in California tested four different kinds of paint on roofs.  The roof with the special paint reflected 45 percent of the suns ray which was nearly twice as much as the other roofs.  Two roofs with highly reflective paint used 35 percent less electricity than the other two roofs.  According to Dr. Hashem Akbari of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, today’s roofs usually last about 20 to 25 years.  He says that when those roofs need to be replaced they should be replaced with light colored roofs.  If this were to happen then the entire nation could have lighter colored roofs within as little as two decades. 

I have already stated most of the pros to lighter colored roofs.  Lighter colored roofs would cool your house down to comfortable temperatures.  They would also save energy which would save you money.  For those people who believe in global warming, it would help out with that too.  Global warming activists say that because less energy would be used then less carbon dioxide emissions would be released into the atmosphere. 

Lighter colored roofs do sound flawless but there are some cons to them.  White roofs cost 15 percent more than other roofs to install.  Like I said above, this would balance out with the lower energy bills.  Some people simply do not like air conditioning and prefer the heat so it would not save them any money.  Another con to white roofs is higher heating bills.  In northern areas white roofs would cause homes to cool down too much in the winter and cause households to turn their heat up.  This would create higher energy bills for people.  This would also create more carbon dioxide emissions to be released into the atmosphere. 

It is hard to say if I would recommend this.  Since we live in a northern state we are on the border line of whether it is worth it or not.  We have hot summers but we also have cold winters.  If you move anymore north then I probably would not recommend it but if you move anymore south then it would probably save you money.  It also depends on what kind of person you are.  If you like to blast the air conditioning then it would probably save you money but if you do not blast the air conditioning then you probably would not save money and may lose money from the installation of it.  If you are big on helping the environment then you may want to look into to this.  While you still will be running your air conditioning, you will not be running it as much will produce less carbon dioxide emissions.

There are a few alternatives to white roofs.  The obvious alternatives are simply not getting it or not running your air conditioning.  In recent years people said they did not want to install the white roofs because they felt it did not look attractive and would lower the value of the house.  A simple alternative to this is to use lighter colors like cream, sienna, grey, and others.  Another alternative is metal roofing.  Essentially metal roofing does the same thing but has a few perks to it.  Metal roofs come in multiple colors, textures, and profiles.  It can save you up to 40 percent in annual energy costs and can also reduce your household temperature by as much as 12 degrees.  Along with that, metal roofs are composed of recycled material.  They can also be installed right onto asphalt roofs which reduces landfill waste.