These days, we all want to do our part for the environment – but in doing so, homeowners must reconcile the desire to be eco-friendly and the often-considerable financial investment of the project.
To make matters worse, having to consider the sheer volume of solutions and products available on the market designed to make your home a greener dwelling can certainly be a mind-boggling experience; in fact, it may even turn some homeowners off the idea altogether.
That being said, there are many investments you can make that are both eco-friendly and cost effective, and if you take the time to learn how to take full advantage of them, the process can be surprisingly painless.
Summer or winter, one of the items in your home that will have the one of the greatest impacts on both your heating/cooling costs and your home’s carbon footprint, is the innocuous thermostat. On it’s own, your thermostat is harmless – but if your home is losing heat or jettisoning cooled air, your thermostat could be costing you a considerable amount of cash.
Prevent Heat Loss with Proper Home Insulation
Once built, your home’s greatest environmental impact relates to how efficiently it uses and preserves energy. Proper insulation can mean your home is able to rightly retain heat in the winter and cooled air in the summer – reducing the frequency your HVAC system is required to work in order to maintain a comfortable ambient temperature. A few simple guidelines about insulation:
- Know your home’s R-value. It’s an excellent gauge to determine whether or not you have the right type and amount of insulation for the climate you live in.
- If you’re unsure of where to begin, consider hiring a third party evaluator to inspect your home to identify any areas of concern.
Your Roof Provides More Than Just Shelter
Unbeknownst to many homeowners, having the right roof can play a big role in not only saving you money on heating and cooling costs, but also have a transformative impact on the environment – and it all has to do with albedo.
Albedo, (as it relates to your roof) is the proportion of solar radiation that gets reflected back into the sky instead of being absorbed. The higher your roof’s albedo rating, the more sunlight gets redirected back into the sky and the less energy your home will use to keep it cool in times of intense solar radiation.
Bright Colour GAF Shingles
- Timberline HD – Birchwood
- Timberline Cool Series – Weathered Wood
- Timberline Cool Series – Barkwood
- Royal Sovereign – White
- Royal Sovereign – Silver Lining
Benefits of an Eco Roof – Get Comfortable
Companies that offer to convert your existing roof into an eco-friendly cool roof are not selling snake oil – there is considerable science behind the positive effects of having a highly reflective roof atop your home or business:
- The results of a study examining the peak temperatures of black roofs compared to white roofs are quite compelling. At the high end of the spectrum, observers noted a 23.7°C surface temperature difference between the two. Because heat energy seeks to be in a state of equilibrium within it’s environment, the heat absorbed by the black surface emanates down into the home, raising the ambient temperature, in turn engaging the cooling system, which as we know costs more money and can contribute to increased strain on the electrical grid.
- Cool roofs significantly reduce the UHI or Urban Heat Island The theory here is that many buildings in metropolitan areas have roofs containing asphalt, ductwork, and heating/cooling units. Each and every one of these items has a poor albedo rating.
The result of a vast amount of closely erected buildings with poor albedo ratings means the heat of the city rises surprisingly high compared to just outside the city, which can have a dangerous effect on members of our society that are particularly vulnerable to extreme temperatures (for instance, the very young or the very old).
- Studies conducted abroad have found that municipalities that either incentivize such projects or make them mandatory for new buildings have seen lower average temperatures within the city – and the cost to the owner/developer of the property can be negligible. That’s because increasing the albedo rating of a building can be as easy as laying down a layer or white stones over the existing roof, or stretching out a thin, light colored membrane over the existing surface. The reduction in cooling costs offsets the initial investment and over time such a conversion will have paid for itself.
The best part of all this is, the environmental benefits of considering albedo ratings when undergoing new infrastructure projects is not only limited to homes and businesses. It’s estimated that by increasing the reflectivity of roads (in addition to roofs) in an urban setting with a population exceeding one million would reduce carbon emissions by 1.2 gigatons each and every year; that’s the equivalent of removing 300 million cars from the road.