Roof replacement is rarely a happy job. It's messy, time-consuming and expensive. If it's time for you to install a new roof, however, you can make the best of it by including energy-saving features that can cut down on your utility bills and take some of the sting out of the expense. Check out these ideas for energy-efficient roofs that will save you money and make your house the envy of the neighborhood.

  • Make it a Cool Roof: Cool roofs reflect a high percentage of sunlight, so they absorb less heat and help moderate the temperature inside your house during the summer. The flip side of the equation is that you miss out on some free heat from the sun during winter, but according to the Environmental Protection Agency, “cool roofs result in net energy savings, especially in areas where electricity prices are high.” One study found that homeowners save as much as 50 cents per square foot on their monthly energy bills with cool roofs. If you decide to go in this direction, the federal Energy Star program certifies roofing materials that effectively reflect away the summer heat.
  • Installing a Skylight: If your house design can accommodate a skylight, it can be an attractive addition that helps you save on your energy costs. Skylights are a boon in the wintertime because they allow sunlight inside to passively heat up your home, and you can add a removable cover in the summer to block that heat when it's not wanted. Proper glazing of the skylight can help prevent air leaks to the outdoors, but you can still open the skylight on a warm day to release hot air that has accumulated near the ceiling. The Energy Department recommends that a skylight cover no more than 15 percent of your floor space, and less in a room with a lot of windows.
  • Going Green: You can literally have a green roof by planting grass or other vegetation on the top of your house. This can confer several advantages; it helps insulate the house, trapping warm air in the winter, and it absorbs sunlight to help keep things cool in the summer. As a bonus, green roofs absorb water as well, so you don't have to worry as much about runoff. Just make sure that you have a secure waterproof layer between your growing medium and the house itself.
  • Awnings for the Win: Install some awnings from the roof that cover your windows and you can reduce solar heat gain as much as 77 percent in the summer, according to the Energy Department. Make sure the awnings are ventilated so the hot air doesn't get trapped in the space around the window, and take them down in the winter so you can soak in every bit of energy the sun has to offer.

Whatever efficiency measures you choose for your new roof, you can feel good about reducing your energy consumption, meaning you're lessening your reliance on fossil fuels and the accompanying contributions to climate change. And you’ll definitely feel smart when the utility bills arrive. For more ideas about how to get the most from your roof, contact a home services professional today.