Cool Roofs to Offset Hotter Summers: Can It Make a Difference? 

As the Earth’s temperatures continue to rise, we are seeing more and more extreme weather conditions. One of the most notable effects of climate change is the increase in average temperatures, especially in urban areas. This phenomenon is known as the urban heat island effect. 

In this blog post, we will discuss rising temperatures caused by urban heat islands and how cool roofs have the potential to offset hotter summers. Plus, you will learn how you can switch to a cool roof. 

Rising Temperatures 

Over the past 20 years, the Earth’s average temperature has risen six-tenths of a degree. From 1880 to 1980, the Earth’s temperature rose steadily at about .14° F per decade. However, the rate of warming in the four decades since has more than doubled.  

While this may not seem like much, it is enough to cause more extreme weather conditions such as heat waves, droughts, and floods. 

Additionally, with rising temperatures comes an increased demand for energy to support air conditioning. It is estimated that by 2070, the electricity demand for cooling will triple. This increase in demand will not only put a strain on the power grid but will also contribute to increased greenhouse gas emissions. 

Urban Heat Islands 

An urban heat island (UHI) is an area that is significantly warmer than its surroundings. UHIs are created when there is a lack of vegetation and an abundance of manmade structures. These conditions cause cities to retain more heat than rural areas. 

As cities continue to grow, the problem of UHIs will become more prevalent. It is estimated that by 2050, 68 percent of the world’s population will live in cities. This increase in urbanization will only exacerbate the problem of UHIs. 

These metropolitan areas are significantly warmer than their surrounding rural areas due to human activity. UHIs can be up to 22°F (12°C) warmer than the cooler, rural areas that surround them. 

The heat island effect is caused by a number of factors: 

  • The large amount of concrete and asphalt in urban areas absorbs and radiates heat. 
  • The lack of trees and vegetation in urban areas decreases evapotranspiration, which helps to cool the air. 
  • The high density of buildings in urban areas prevents wind from flowing freely, thus trapping hot air. 

Fortunately, there are steps we can take to mitigate the effects of climate change and reduce the urban heat island effect. One such solution is cool roofs. 

What Are Cool Roofs? 

A cool roof is made of roofing material that reflects more sunlight and absorbs less heat than a traditional roof. Cool roofs can be made of a variety of materials, such as metal, tile, or asphalt. They are often white or light in color to reflect more sunlight. By reflecting sunlight, cool roofs can stay up to 50°F (10°C) cooler than dark-colored roofs. 

Cool roofs have many benefits. For one, they can reduce the amount of heat transferred into the building. This can lead to lower cooling costs in the summer months and improve indoor comfort. Additionally, cool roofs can extend the life of the roof by protecting it from UV damage and thermal cycling. 

Not only do cool roofs keep buildings cooler, but they can also save energy and money. It is estimated that cool roofs can reduce air conditioning costs by 10 percent to 30 percent. 

How to Switch to a Cool Roof 

If you’re interested in switching to a cool roof, there are a few things you should keep in mind. 

First, it’s important to select the right material for your roof. For example, metal roofs are good reflectors of sunlight, but they are also good conductors of heat. As such, they may not be the best choice for cool roofs in hot climates. 

Second, you’ll need to consider the climate when choosing a cool roof. If you live in an area with hot summers and cold winters, you’ll want a material that can withstand both extremes. One option is white membranes, which are reflective and durable. 

Finally, you’ll need to make sure that your cool roof is properly installed. This means ensuring that there are no gaps or holes in the roofing material. If your roof is not properly sealed, it will not be as effective at reflecting sunlight and keeping your building cool. 


There’s no question that the Earth’s temperature is rising and that manmade changes  

are hastening this impact. However, there are things we can do to mitigate the damage and slow things down. Cool roofs are just one way that homeowners can take control of their impact and lower energy costs. 

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