Like many new products, cool roofing systems were greeted with skepticism when first introduced. Because little information about them was readily available, people lacked the ability to separate facts from misinformation. For example, many believed that white coatings were the only cool roofing option.
Now researchers have had time to study the properties and effects of cool roofing systems, and construction professionals and building managers have been able to assess the performance of these products for themselves. Yet the power of myth is such that some carry on despite well-known facts that disprove them.
For example, cool roofs are now available for all types of roofing systems, including the most familiar spray-on coatings and paint for metal but extending to single-ply membranes and modified bitumen. But somehow many still think the phrase “cool roof” means a white coating and nothing else. The following is a list of other common misconceptions about the technology compared with the facts you need to know if you’re considering cool roofing.
Myth #1: Cool roofs aren’t useful in cooler climates.
Since cool roofs are so effective at reflecting sunlight and keeping temperatures down inside buildings, it’s hard to blame people for assuming that the lack of heat absorption will mean higher energy costs in the winter.
In fact, there’s very little heat for a building to absorb or for a cool roof to repel. There are fewer sunny days and fewer hours of daylight on those days, and winter sunshine is less intense. Some buildings in some regions definitely require more heat after a cool roof is installed, but the reduction in cooling costs during summer is so dramatic that it dwarfs that minor additional expense.
Myth #2: The expense of cool roofs outweighs their benefits.
As you would expect, the expansion of the range of cool roofing options has also expended the range of prices. Some of them are more expensive than “non-cool” alternatives, but lower energy bills demonstrate that a cool roof generally pays for itself in a relatively short period.
The exact amount of those savings depends on a lot of factors, including the amount of insulation in the building, the type of HVAC equipment that’s installed, the cool roofing product in question, and the regional climate. It’s important to do the match when deciding if a particular cool roofing option is right for your circumstances, but the key question is not whether you’ll save but rather how much.
Myth #3: Insulation makes cool roofing unnecessary.
Actually, cool roofs and insulation complement each other. Research has demonstrated that insulation performs more effectively under a cool roof than with a standard, non-cool counterpart.
Myth #4: Cool roofing is new and therefore untested.
People have been covering their dwellings with reflective surfaces for hundreds of years. Many of the entries in the Cool Roof Rating Council’s Rated Products Directory have been on the market for multiple decades. As we mentioned above, the body of research on the benefits of cool roofing is substantial and growing. If anything about the entire field can be described as new, it’s our improved ability to accurately assess the benefits that cool roofing provides.
At this point, those benefits are well-established. However, it’s still important to do your homework when you’re deciding whether any particular cool roofing product is right for your budget, your building, and your circumstances. Consideration of any major expenditure should rest on facts, not myths.