Quick Answer – Installing insulation will help reduce roof temperature. Also installing or replacing old, whirlybird roof vents will also keep your roof void cooler. Balancing your intake air through the eave vents, with the air that is expelled is important to keeping your roof attic or roof void cooler.
Depending on if you’re putting in a new roof or adding to the old one, you’ll find several ways to lower its temperature. Be it insulation or other more advanced improvements, they can all save you money in the long run.
While you can do a lot more when you’re putting in a new roof, there are several ways to make an existing one more energy-efficient. We’ll run through everything so you can see what are your options, and so you can decide if you should do as much as you can to your old roof, or start completely from scratch with a new one.
What are the best roof types for keeping the temperature down?
There is a reason why clay and terracotta have been used for roof tiles since the antiquity. The curved shape is ideal since it allows for air circulation, and if they are installed properly, you could be looking forward to up a half-century before they need replacing.
Concrete is cheaper and its main selling point is that it takes a lot of time to heat up. However, it’s not as breathable and you will have to include other ventilation solutions.
Green or “living” roofs also prevent the heat from overwhelming your living space while making your home look positively magical. In addition to that, they also help keep your environment cool and produce oxygen. The only downside is a potential moisture problem, so you have to make sure that everything is built and isolated properly.
How can I make my roof more energy efficient?
Begin by adding vents to the roof itself. Air is the best insulation against heat. Also, hot air is lighter than the cold one, and it will rise and eventually escape through those vents.
Put in a layer of insulation on the inside of the roof. Insulation that is sandwiched between the layers in the rood is usually made from polyester or glass wool, but if you can buy them in sheet form, you can also install them with just a nail gun or a simple hammer. There’s also spray insulation, but the coats tend to be smaller and therefore slightly less effective than regular sheets or panels.
And finally, consider putting a reflective paint or material all over the roof, like paint or even solar panels. This will prevent the direct sunshine from reaching the roof directly and then warming it up.
Will solar panels cool down a roof?
Yes, but how much depends on the type and the amount installed.
On average, a roof covered in solar panels should end up being about 3 degrees Celsius cooler. They absorb direct sunlight that would otherwise raise the roof temp. However, they do nothing about air temperature and its effect.
Now, 3 degrees might not seem like a lot, but they can easily translate into energy (and money) saved when it comes to air conditioning. Some manufacturers have even calculated that this alone pays out about 5% of your initial investment.
The panels themselves don’t generate any heat, but they may help heat escaping from the roof, creating further savings on a heating bill.
Does Roof Colour Affect Temperature?
A little bit, but not as much as in case of clothing or vehicles.
So, we’ve always been told that dark colours get hot quicker and a lot more, while light ones stay cool for longer. However, light colours also take time to release the heat, while the darker ones cool back down as quickly as took them to get hot.
To explain it differently, let’s talk about the Beduin. They are famous for their signature black robes that should be completely inappropriate for riding in a scorching hot desert. And yet, they’re wearing them.
The choice of colour has everything to do with safety (black is easily distinguishable in a sandstorm, for example), but nothing to do with temperature. All measurements show that the heat generated is neglectable. The real issue is in the fit of the clothes – they are worn loose and that contributes to the cooling effect.
In the same way, what’s happening under your roof has more impact on temperature that the colour of it. A coat of lighter paint will help lower the average temperature a bit, but there are other things that you can do that will bring greater results.
One of them is a reflective coating. As the name says, it reflects the sun rays and therefore prevents the surface of the roof from overheating. You can find this stuff in most home improvement store or online.
Do whirlybirds really work?
As long as they are installed properly, they actually do.
On their own, whirlybirds don’t do anything, but when they are combined with vents, they serve as a kind of non-electric air conditioner. The vents’ purpose is to serve as a supplier of fresh air, while the light hot air circulates toward the whirlybird and is released outside.
They are also very useful in winter since they stop the moisture-laden air from getting trapped, and therefore causing moisture damage.
Of course, the number and placement matter, so get an expert in to do the math for you.
You may also want to look into solar rood ventilators. They are quite a bit more expensive, but they should also be about 10 to 15 times more effective.
What Are the Best Things to Do to an Old Roof?
This truly depends on the condition of said roof. If it’s in impeccable condition, you may do to it everything you would do with a new roof.
If it’s a bit “worn in” here and there but not ready for an overall facelift or replacement, you may want to consider some isolation. It will provide both protection from the elements as it would the cooling effect. Also, you are not investing a ridiculous amount of money into a roof that will be replaced soon.
A whirlybird is also a good idea, but make sure that you can open a hole in your roof safely and without damaging it.
As for really old roofs (15 years or older), it may be better to consider getting a new one to begin with. Get a roofer in and let them check out how much life you can get out of it before you choose what to do next.
When to DIY and When to Get a Professional
You can install several types of isolation material by yourself. Most of them require either an adhesive or a set of nails, and maybe an extra pair of hands. This includes any type of panels or sheets of isolation that you can probably pick up in Bunnings or even online.
There’s also the spray isolation which is fairly easy to “install” by a single person, but it does require speciality equipment (though you can rent it from a construction company or other similar business). You will also have to move out temporarily because this method leaves behind a lot of particles and dust that you don’t want in your lungs.
For everything else, it may be better to call in a professional. You may be quite handy with a hammer, but if the work requires a permanent and drastic change (ie opening a hole for a whirlybird), it’s better to not do it on your own.
How to pick a good roofer
Depending on the size of the project, it may end up costing a lot. The old saying “you get what you pay for” still mostly rings true, but you can still end up wasting a bunch of money on someone who has no idea what they are doing.
Here are a few things to pay attention to so you know you’re putting your trust in the right person.
Look close to you. Not for a friend or a cousin that cand do the job, but for someone who had the work done in the past couple of years. Ideally, you want them to had that roof over their heads for at least a year before they can wholeheartedly recommend someone.
Stay local. Not only to save on cost but also it will be less likely for someone to attempt any funny business if they need to face you from time to time.
Deep check online reviews. A five-star rating is great, but both good and bad reviews are bought all the time for cheap these days. When you have time, look into each poster to make sure that they are not a reviewer for hire.
Check the licenses and insurance. Their insurance must cover both you and them, and all their licenses need to be current and following your state’s law.
Ask about the guarantee. Reputable businesses are usually confident enough to offer a couple of years’ guarantee on their work.
Check the quote. It needs to be itemized and detailed. Someone is not able (or willing) to show you where your money is going is up to something shady.
Read the contract. Properly. A good contract will be a bit on the long side, but it must cover all aspects of your project. Pay particular attention to clauses that cover materials and delays (delays due to the weather are normal, but them not even being mentioned in the contract is a no-no).
Have an honest conversation about budgets and additional costs. Everyone knows that a big project like this one can run about 20% more expensive than originally quoted, but you need to have the roofer to both know your limit and for them to properly explain why this extra cost must happen.
How do I know if I need a new roof?
In short, if the list of things that need repair starts running long, it may be time to scrap the whole thing and start from scratch.
In terms of temperature control, if you need to consider one or two improvements, it should be okay. But, if those improvements need to be further improved on, or if they come with other signs of disrepair, it’s time to spring out for a new roof.
Keep an eye on the following issues. Just one of them (or even the hints of it) should be a sign that it’s time to call in the contractors.
You see streams of light. Tiny beams warrant inspection and repair, but whole streams are a symptom of a bigger problem.
You see stains and dark streaks on the room ceilings. These are signs of leaking and moisture. The situation is even worse if there are obvious signs of water damage.
Your ceilings are sagging. Probably because of moisture damage.
You find shingle granules in the gutter. There is a good chance that moisture damage is happening as well, or that is just about to happen.
You see obvious rot and decay. This one is a no-brainer – if your roof is making your house look like a set from a horror film, it’s time to get a new one.
Your roof is over 20 years old. At the very least, you should have a roofer in to check up on it. All roofs need major attention every decade or two and depending on where you live and the quality of work that was done, you may need to replace the whole thing at those times.