Energy and Tax Incentives

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greenhousingSo much energy can be saved with the installation of a roof. Though the initial price of an energy-efficient roof can be slightly higher, the investment is made up in reduced utility bills over the life of the building. Many Energy Star-rated roofs are also eligible for tax credits.

“Cool roofs” is an umbrella term for several different roofing systems. In short, a cool roof is a roof designed to reflect sunlight and heat. Conventional roofing materials reflect only 5 to 15 percent, which means they absorb 85 to 95 percent of the energy and heat from the sun. The coolest roofing materials reflect more than 65 percent, absorbing 35 percent or less of the energy from the sun. Thermal emittance determines how readily a surface gives up heat. Ideally, a roof will have a high percentage of reflectance and a high percentage of emittance

Low-sloped roofs are normally found on commercial buildings, industrial buildings and multifamily homes. They can be made more efficient through the application of cool coating or single-ply membrane. Cool coating is the consistency of thick paint and can be applied to existing surfaces, such as asphalt, gravel, metal and various single-ply materials.

Steep-sloped roofs are generally found on residential homes. The most common types of cool roofing systems for steep-sloped roofs include tiles and painted metal. Typical tiles, made of clay or concrete, reflect only 10 to 30 percent. “Cool-colored” tiles contain pigments that reflect 25 to 70 percent of solar energy, depending upon the color. Cool-colored metal roofing also contains pigments that reflect 20 to 90 percent.

Although green roofs fall into their own category, they provide similar benefits as cool roofs. Green roofs are gardens or mini-ecosystems that cover an existing roof with the aid of special planters. The greenery essentially shades the roof, reducing heat transfer and thereby keeping the building cool.

The hotter the roof, the more energy it takes to cool the building beneath it. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program began rating roofing materials for energy efficiency. Traditionally, asphalt shingles have been among the hottest roofing materials available, but manufacturers have been finding ways to make them more reflective and reduce the amount of heat they absorb. Many of them now have earned an Energy Star rating.

The U.S. federal government offers tax credits and other incentives for energy-efficient home products. The incentives change from year to year, so it is important to check with a tax accountant to make sure that you are getting all of the savings your home deserves through energy efficiency standards.

“Which Roof Shingles Are Energy Star Rated? National Geographic.” Green Living on National Geographic. Web. 05 May 2013.

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