Cool Roofs: A Simple Guide for Florida Homeowners

If you’re in the market for a new roof, you may have heard the term “cool roof” or “cool roofing” and be wondering what exactly that means. Here in Florida, a cool roof sounds like it might be the perfect home upgrade to combat our hot summer days and overtaxed air conditioning systems. Lowering your peak electricity demand is never a bad thing!

simple guide for Florida homes and cool roofs from allstate cover photo

We’re here to unpack exactly what a cool roof is – from installing a cool roof to the specific roofing materials. And how it impacts your energy efficiency.

Let’s start with the basics:

What is a cool roof system, and how does it work?

A cool roof is a roofing system for your home that reflects infrared and ultraviolet rays of the sun. It also helps reduce the “heat island effect.” The urban heat island effect is when the collective houses absorb high temperatures and, together, can cause the area ambient temperature to go up! With cool roofing, the reflective cool roof properties can lessen this effect.

Cool roofs include exterior surfaces or additional cool roof coatings that limit solar absorption (from our hot summer sun). They also increase thermal emittance.

If you wanted to install cool roofing with reflective properties in years past, you typically had to install white or light-colored roofing materials. But a quick drive through local neighborhoods will reveal that most homes have dark-colored roofs or roof coatings. A metal roof and tile roofs are the normal exceptions. These dark roofs typically absorb heat and can increase the temperature to more than 190 degrees °F! With that level of heat, you can quickly see how installing a cool roof could help decrease the heat island effect. In addition to adding benefits to your home and lowering energy use.

Graphic showing how much light is reflected by a Warm Roof versus a Cool Roof
source: Santa Monica Mirror

Cool roofs help decrease the level of heat that transfers into your home or building. This can improve your energy use and adds a layer of durability that other roofs might not offer. This is especially true in hotter cities in the United States like Los Angeles, San Antonio, and all of Southern and Central Florida! By reflecting the sun, you can keep a building cooler and decrease the damage that comes from absorbing heat and sunlight, like with traditional roofs.

More recently, roofing options were developed that allow the great cool roofing benefits in darker colors that many homeowners prefer. Thanks to this new technology, dark roofs can even meet the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s EnergyStar® designation!

If you like the idea of choosing cool roof materials that can lower the roof surface temperature and improve your home or building’s energy efficiency, your next question may be related to cost. Keep reading to learn about cool roofing systems and how much these roofs cost to install and maintain.

Are cool roofs expensive?

If you are in the market for a new roof or a roof upgrade, you are probably getting an education on:

  • Building materials
  • Roofing products
  • Solar energy options
  • Roof installation

And even a technical understanding of how roofs can impact air pollution, heat gain, air conditioning systems, and the local power grid!

There is no shortage of options in the United States when it comes to roofing supplies and choices. But you might be surprised to learn that choosing reflective shingles – or a cool roof – has a comparable cost to premium standard shingles per square foot.

When considering cool roofing products for a roof replacement:

  • Factor in the initial cost in addition to the savings you can expect on cooling costs and heating costs.
  • According to a study conducted by the EPA, the inspection savings from a cool roof design and installation was, on average, $0.50 per square foot per year. That report suggests that even an expensive cool roof option would pay for itself in approximately six years.
  • When it comes to cool roof maintenance costs, expect them to be relatively close to traditional asphalt shingles. You’ll need to maintain regular cleanings and watch for problems that can come from mold or algae. But in general, they don’t require more maintenance costs than your regular roof systems.

Need a little extra assistance?

You may want to check out the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) model. This option helps property owners (commercial and residential) finance energy-efficient and renewable energy improvements. If you see the name C-PACE, it refers to the commercial program. R-PACE represents the residential side.

The PACE program allows property owners to finance the initial cost of energy through an assessment. This means that you can pay for the up-front cost through the program and pay the costs back over time. With the PACE assessment, the balance remains with the property, not the owner. This makes it different than using a credit card or personal loan.

Commercial and residential PACE programs share a common foundation. PACE programs allow a property owner to finance the up-front cost of energy or other eligible improvements on a property. They can then pay the costs back over time through a voluntary assessment. The unique characteristic of PACE assessments is that the assessment is attached to the property rather than an individual. The payments are connected to the property tax bills and can be paid back over ten to twenty years.

Non-payment comes with the same repercussions as non-payment of the property tax bill. So, it’s important to make sure the PACE program is a good fit for you long-term. Typically, if you sell your home or property, the new owner will assume the obligation, and the assessment will stay with the property. 

Of course, like any investment, weighing the benefits against the cost is a smart way to make a decision. If you have decided that a cool roof – or other property improvements are a good fit for you, learn about the PACE program. It may be a good option for your situation.

Are cool roofs the same as green roofs?

green roof

No. Cool roofs are made of reflective materials that lower the absorption from the sun and offer a level of solar reflectance. A green roof is most often used on an urban building with a flat or shallow roof. And it simply means that a layer of vegetation has been added to the roof system. On a green roof, you might see simple plants used as coverage or a garden. It’s a great option for managing stormwater and having an enjoyable rooftop. Unlike standard roofing systems, green roofs can improve insulation, lower heating and cooling costs and offer a positive human health benefit by creating a welcoming area.

This unique option is not plausible for all roof structures, so consult a professional contractor if you’d like to learn more and see if your building is a fit.

Are cool roofs the same as solar panels?

No. Homeowners can typically add solar panels to an existing roof to absorb sunlight and use it for solar energy, often to lower utility bills. Cool roofs can reduce the absorption of sunlight and provide a high level of solar reflectance, which stops the heat from getting into your home, to begin with. This helps lower utility costs but in a different way.

If your main goal is to reduce energy costs, talk to a professional roofing contractor about the options and how each product works.

How are cool roofs installed?

Much like traditional roofs for your home or building, a cool roof system follows an installation process. At Allstate, we meet with you onsite at your property to inspect your existing roof and take measurements, etc. We work with flat roofs, slope roofs, and any roof you may have. But we’ll need to inspect and measure the areas to ensure that a cool roof is an option for you and determine the cost for your project.

From there, we’ll discuss roof products with you and answer any questions about:

  • Energy savings
  • The process
  • And the pace at which our team will complete your project.

Once you and your contractor have determined that a cool roof is the best solution for you, we’ll outline the next steps and have you sign a contract.

Like most roof installations, a cool roof requires a roofing permit. As your contractor, we’ll take care of these details and get started on your home or building as soon as possible. We work together throughout your project to keep you updated, keep the area clean and safe, and move at a quick pace. We work with quality products and an expert team, so before you know it, you’ll have a new roof and start getting the benefit of a cooler building. That means lower roof temperatures, instant energy savings, and less stress on your air conditioning!

Are cool roof shingles worth it?

cool roof shingles

Yes. If you’re interested in learning how cool roofs can reduce your energy costs, lower air temperatures in your home, increase thermal emittance, and more, look in your local areas for qualified roofing contractors. Professional roofers can help determine if cool roof products are right for you.

At Allstate, our team can help you understand what benefits cool roofing offers. From explaining how cool roofing relates to less energy, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and air pollution to unpacking recommendations and reports from the Cool Roof Rating Council (or CRRC), The Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and more.

We have the experience and expertise to simplify your options and help you make the best decision for your home or building. We also stay up to date on industry news and offerings to ensure you’re getting the latest and best for your investment.

So, what’s next?

If you’re ready to learn more about cool roofing products and how your roof can better reflect heat and improve your home’s energy, start with a local contractor like Allstate. On our website, you can schedule a free, no-cost, no-obligation inspection or reach out to our team directly by calling (239) 317-2000.

Our team would love to help you learn more about the menu of roofing products we offer, including cool roofing. Get started today and get the benefit of cost savings for your home or building!

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