Lately, I've been hearing a lot about cool roof technologies, so I welcomed the chance to learn more at a recent seminar. Cool roofs, also referred to as white roofs, have special coatings that reflect sunlight and emit heat more efficiently than traditional roofs, keeping them cooler in the sun.

Cool roofing technologies can be implemented quickly and at a relatively low cost, making it the fastest growing sector of the building industry. U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu is among the many cool roof enthusiasts. The Secretary recently announced plans to install cool roofs at all DOE buildings when constructing new roofs or replacing old ones.

According to ENERGY STAR®, Americans spend about $40 Billion annually to air condition buildings. Traditional roofs absorb 90% or more of incoming solar energy. The higher the roof temperature, the harder the air conditioning system must work to keep interiors cool.

In contrast, cool roofs can reduce the roof surface temperature by up to 100°F, thereby reducing annual air conditioning use by as much as 15%. This helps to reduce energy costs (by keeping attics and ducts cooler), improve occupant comfort, cut maintenance costs, and increase the life cycle of the roof.

Federal tax credits are available for some cool roofing materials. If it's time for your roof to be replaced, consider cool roofing a viable, cost-saving option.