What Is The Most Energy Efficient Roof Material?

sun beating down on a shingle roof in moline il

What Is The Most Energy Efficient Roof Material?

Your roof does a lot more than just shelter your family from a storm. It helps stabilize the structure of your home, provides venting to keep the air moving inside, and can make or break the energy efficiency of your house.

Massive Heat Sink

Consider a car that has been sitting in the hot sun for a few hours. The last thing you’ll want to do is lay your palm onto the hood. Your roof is like that every single day. It is, in essence, a massive heat sink absorbing the sun’s rays day in and day out and can reach temperatures of up to 150 degrees. That heat seeps into your home and affects the indoor temperature, especially in the level closest to your roof.

This heat sink effect can be helpful through the winter months but is not such a boon the rest of the year. It makes your air conditioning run more often as the heat seeps into your home. This battle between your AC and the heat from your roof not only increases your energy bills but reduces the lifespan of your AC unit. The effect is so strong that it created the Cool Roof concept to limit this effect on your home.

Material Efficiency Matters

There are many options available for the homeowner who wants a cooler roof. Some have to do with design, but most are material-based and come in at many price points and styles. The most important factor in energy-efficient roofing materials is reflectivity. The more sunlight reflected away from the surface, the more efficient the material. We’re going to cover most of the available materials by starting at the bottom and working our way up.

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most popular type of roof covering by a huge margin. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to install, durable, and come in a variety of styles. What they aren’t, however, is energy efficient. Even the light-colored shingles soak up the sun and send most of the heat into your home.

Shingles exist that are more reflective due to special reflective granules on their surface, but the underlying material is still fairly inefficient, so their effectiveness remains low.

Tile Roofing

Roofing tiles come in a variety of materials and a seemingly endless list of shapes. All are more efficient than asphalt shingles because they allow better airflow through the roof covering, which helps to reduce heat transfer.


Slate tiles are, of course, incredibly heavy and require a much stronger roof system if they are to be used on your home. Outside of the extra airflow, slate is only moderately more efficient than asphalt shingles.

They can be painted a lighter color to help your roof shed heat, but the main reason to pick slate is their natural beauty, so most homeowners wouldn’t see this as a viable option.


When you think of clay roofing tiles, you probably picture rounded red tiles on a house in the American Southwest, and you wouldn’t be wrong. But that’s only a portion of what is available.

Clay tiles come in many shapes and colors and can also be painted to reflect more heat. They can also be coated in a reflective film to make them even more efficient in shedding heat.


Cement tiles are growing in popularity for both siding and roofing due to their incredible durability and available style options. The manufacturers can produce virtually any shape and color, and reflective elements can be cast into each tile. Cement is already a poor heat conductor, so reflective cement tiles are especially energy-efficient.

The weight of cement tiles is a concern, so your roof needs to be designed or retrofitted to handle the increased load. Cement tiles are not an inexpensive option, but you should not have to retile your roof again in your lifetime.

Metal Roofing

Metal is probably the fastest growing roofing material of the time. It is available in many styles and almost any color and is very easy to install. A metal roof allows the most airflow through the roof covering and is, by nature, highly reflective. Add to its natural properties through color and additional reflective films, and there is no more efficient roofing material available.

Again, the cost is high, but the longevity and durability of metal roofing can offset the initial cost.

Green Roofs

If you have a flat roof or a very shallow pitch with a raised edge, you can opt for a Green Roof. This system involves using soil to create a park-like setting of a garden (or both!) on your roof. While the concept is simple, doing it correctly is extremely expensive.

First, your roof needs to be strong enough to handle a massive amount of weight. Then, you would need to completely seal the roof against possible leaks and contact with the soil to prevent rot. You would also need to design a fail-proof drainage system under the soil to prevent water from flowing over the sides during heavy rain.

Afterward, though, you would have a highly insulated roof benefitting you throughout the year as well as a brand new outdoor living space to enjoy with your friends and family.

Additional Benefits

Tile, metal, and green roofs all have the added benefit of being fire resistant, which provides peace of mind as well as a discount on your home insurance.

Cool Roofs are also helpful to your neighborhood by no longer contributing to the heat island effect created by standard roofs in residential areas. Some heat-reducing roof systems are also part of the Energy Star system and qualify for tax credits to help pay for the installation. If you are considering getting a Cool Roof in your Moline area home or you just have some questions, contact us at Mainstream Home Improvement. We’ll be happy to get you started toward having a more energy-efficient home.

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